Animals receive hearty holiday meals, gift bags at Warren Co. shelter

230 dogs and cats received the meals courtesy of a generous adopter.

Shelter animals treated to feast, gifts and goodies this holiday season

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio (FOX19) - A holiday tradition at a local animal shelter is even bigger and brighter this year because of an adopter who decided to give back.

Tuesday was a busy day at the Humane Association of Warren County, where the holiday spirit is not in short supply.

The 230 dogs and cats staying at the shelter enjoyed hearty holiday meals as part of the facility’s Feast for the Beast event. Executive Director Joanne Hurley says it is something staff members and animals alike look forward to every year around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“It was so much fun watching the animals. They had such a good time, and everybody was like just in a really good mood,” Hurley said. “These animals give to us every day, every day of their life, and I get a little choked up talking about it, but ya know, I feel it that deep.”

This year’s seasonal celebration is extra special, Hurley says, because a dog named Inga and her owner decided to pay it forward.

After patiently waiting for her forever family, Inga was adopted from the shelter, but it took time.

Inga, Hurley says, went through rigorous training to help with severe anxiety and ultimately spent more than five years at the shelter before getting her happy ending.

A viral video finally helped connected Inga with her perfect pet owner in Vermont.

“It does our hearts so good to see her in the life that she’s always deserved,” Hurley said. “It was the best thing to ever happen because what we learned on this journey was not only how to manage her anxiety, but how to apply these techniques to other dogs in the shelter.”

Knowing there are so many canines and felines still in need of a home, Inga and her owner sent staffers dozens of goodies that they were then able to use as part of their brown-bag surprise.

“We get these untreated brown paper bags, and we stuff them with toys, treats, ones, things like that, and the animal is actually able to rip this bag apart and find their little treats inside,” Hurley said.

It is an act of kindness Hurley says is making an impact during a year that has been difficult for many people.

“It really gets you into the mission and what we’re there for in the first place, and I think it’s a great distraction, and it’s good for the animals. It’s good for us,” Hurley said.

When it is safe to travel, Inga and her owner plan to return to Warren County for a visit.

Hurley said the pandemic has been tough on the shelter, so donations through the shelter’s website or Facebook page are appreciated. They also have an Amazon wishlist.

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