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WV flood volunteer rescues dog, searches for owner

Photo submitted to The Journal  Local attorney Matt Harvey and his dog named Clay, whom he rescued from Clay County after flooding ravaged many counties in the southern part of the state, are shown.
Photo submitted to The Journal
Local attorney Matt Harvey and his dog named Clay, whom he rescued from Clay County after flooding ravaged many counties in the southern part of the state, are shown.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — When Matt Harvey saw a limping dog in Clay County after devastating floods ravaged counties in southern West Virginia in late June, he immediately knew he wanted to help her find a way back home.

Harvey said the dog, who he fittingly named Clay, was in poor health.

“We tried to give her water and food, and she didn’t really take any at all. She’d walk away from us, and then she would lay down and have her tongue flop out and get covered in gravel,” said Harvey, an attorney at Taylor and Harvey law firm in Martinsburg. “She was limping, and her energy level was awful. Honestly, to me, it appeared that she had just given up, like she was waiting to die. So, I grabbed her and put her in my car.”

Harvey had traveled originally to Greenbrier County with supplies to help with the flood relief, but ended up in Clay County shortly thereafter because the roads leading to Greenbrier were so damaged and eroded that they became impassable.

After Harvey put Clay in the passenger seat of his car, he said she seemed to perk up.

“I had left my car running – it was hot that day – and when she felt the vent, it was like a health ray or something hitting her in the face,” Harvey said. “I had to drive to the high school for further instruction, which was about a 20 minute drive, and within two minutes, she was snoring.”

Upon arriving at the high school, which was transformed into a makeshift distribution center for the donations coming into the area, Harvey said he found a harness for Clay and began asking if anyone knew to whom the dog he had found wandering around a pile of debris at a Clay County park and ride belonged; no one knew.

Although he wanted to help Clay, Harvey said he had no idea where to begin.

“I didn’t know what to do, so the first thing I did was call the local shelter. I called the Clay County Humane Society, and they were really overwhelmed with everything going on,” Harvey said. “They asked if I could keep her until they found the owner, and I said OK. I put her on Facebook and started getting a lot of likes a shares.”

Someone notified Harvey of a mobile pet checkup station coming to Clendenin the next day, so he took Clay there and discovered that the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association was taking in animals rescued from flooding and holding them longer than normal until they could be reunited with their owners or adopted.

Although Harvey left Clay in Kanawha County, he kept tabs on her while she was there, and decided to adopt her once she became available in late July. But, Harvey said he has a bigger mission in mind after bringing Clay to the Eastern Panhandle.

“I technically own her, I technically adopted her, but I’m kind of treating it as a fostering relationship because I really want to find her owner,” Harvey said as Clay sat in his lap, occasionally giving him a kiss or wandering curiously around his office. “I can’t imagine that she was an outside dog. She appears to be too socialized and too smart to have just been kind of on her own. So, I can’t help but feel that there’s a family out there that probably has no idea she even made it, and they might not even be in Clay County.”

While Harvey said he would certainly be sad to see her go, he hopes that he can help Clay find her family back home.

Staff writer Emily Daniels can be reached at 304-263-8931 ext. 132 or

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