Olive Branch Updates County Commission
Linda Henriksen, of the Olive Branch Animal Rescue & Refuge, appeared before the Tyler County Commission at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 26 to address community concerns.
Henriksen thanked the commission for placing her on the agenda to speak. She noted the Olive Branch is a private entity made up of 11 board members and receives funding from state and local grants, plus donations.
She stated the organization has recently been the target of vicious rumors and conversation, accusing it of sending animals to Canada for dog meat. She also mentioned the Olive Branch is accused of using citizens’ money unwisely in the care for the animals the organization rescues.
The commission donates $5,000 per month to the Olive Branch, and Henriksen wanted to make it clear the rescue uses every bit of that money for medical expenses, food, shelter, and other care for the dogs and cats rescued. She noted any funds left over go into a building fund.
The average medical expense in any given month amounts to $3,500 to $5,000. Henriksen said the Olive Branch recently had as many as 63 dogs, and at that point, was unable to take in any more
In the past year the Olive Branch has spent $98,000 on kennels. Even with that, there was still no room, and the Olive Branch had to house some dogs in its barn, which the organization doesn’t like to do. Henriksen noted the barn did provide a place of shelter.
Henriksen spoke about the Olive Branch’s effort to have cats spayed or fixed and then set free in the community where there are feeding stations.
The annual budget for the Olive Branch, according to Henriksen, is around $467,000. She said all of those funds are put back to use for the care of the animals it takes in. During 2017 and 2018, Henriksen said, the Olive Branch had taken in and adopted a lot of dogs.
“The policy of the Olive Branch is to not take in dogs which are not suitable for adoption,” Henriksen said. “We recently had an issue with a pit bull; we follow guidelines with these dogs. We have Sistersville Police Chief Rob Haught come in and do some testing. We don’t just adopt out vicious dogs without first making sure they are suitable. Thank God we found a suitable home out of state for the pit bull.”
“I wanted to come in and thank the county commission for the donation of $5,000 per month they give us. I wanted to set the record straight that we are not a pound shelter as some people believe. We cannot be a pound shelter or we lose our grants.”
Henriksen said the Olive Branch is happy to work with the county, and also Wetzel County, Pleasants County and Moundsville to provide shelter when possible. She noted since Tyler County doesn’t have a shelter, it often works out well for them.
Henriksen again thanked the commission for its yearly donation and guaranteed it would all be used wisely for the care and shelter of the animals they take in.
Henriksen also presented the commissioners with a letter from people in Canada who adopt from the Olive Branch. The letter states that adopted animals will not be used for dog food or experimentation. Henriksen said that anyone can go to their Facebook page and see exactly who they adopt to. She also mentioned anyone is willing to come into the Olive Branch and see what they do.