By: Eugenia Jones
Gandhi once said the greatness of a nation (or perhaps, in this instance, a county) and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. With that being said and with the month of October officially designated as “adopt a pet” month, there are plenty of McCreary County stray cats and dogs who desperately need McCreary County residents to extend helping paws and become their life-saving heroes.
Since McCreary County Ordinances require the Animal Control Officer to respond to complaints of stray and dumped dogs and cats by picking the animals up and transporting them to the Knox-Whitley County Animal Shelter in Corbin, many wonderful local animals, through no fault of their own, innocently find themselves facing a shaky future that may, regrettably and relatively quickly, involve death through euthanasia.
The shelter, located in Corbin and serving a total of four counties, works hard to find good homes for all of the animals delivered to them. However, with the shelter in need of donations as it continues to rebound from a fire that destroyed the original shelter building in November 2013 and with a steady stream of incoming stray animals, it is impossible to find homes for all of the furry, four-legged creatures arriving at the shelter.
In the aftermath of the November fire, Animal Shelter Director Deanna Myers, shelter workers, and volunteers have provided limited space for stray animals in a temporary location as they continue to work tirelessly to complete the renovation of a 10,000 square foot building, purchased in February 2014, to permanently replace the original shelter building.
The process of “starting over” is time consuming since total renovation of the new building is required in order to meet Kentucky animal shelter laws mandating special requirements for the heating and air system, dictating kennel size, and more. Additionally, Myers is installing individual drains to make the new shelter more sanitary and to help control disease. Concrete blocks are being used for the kennels to make cleaning easier.
In order to complete the new shelter, which will house seventy-two dog kennels, a cat room, and an adoption visiting room, Myers is actively seeking monetary donations as well as donations in the form of sheet rock and concrete block to use to finish the building. Gently used towels and blankets, dog food, cat food, cat litter, and other supplies are always needed and welcomed.
Just as important, if not more so, is a critical need to find individuals willing to foster cats and dogs temporarily until forever homes can be found for them. There is also a dire need for volunteers who are willing to transport animals to no-kill rescue groups in Lexington and other Kentucky based areas. Volunteer foster parents and volunteer transport drivers directly save the lives of animals by providing “temporarily permanent” homes and by freeing up kennel space at the shelter for animals who might otherwise be euthanized due to a lack of space.
Although the Shelter transports many animals to the safety of the no-kill Lexington Humane Society and Kentucky Humane Society when slots are available, cats and dogs continue to be euthanized. While first priority for euthanasia is given to dogs with overwhelming health issues or aggressive tendencies, the Kentucky laws governing the overcrowding of animals at shelters can force a lack of kennel space to become the determining factor in the decision to euthanize animals. In circumstances when there is “no room at the shelter,” the availability of individuals willing to foster or transport animals to rescue agencies directly saves the lives of some of McCreary County’s most innocent and defenseless creatures.
Committed to saving as many animals as possible, Director Myers works diligently to educate the public, set up mobile pet adoption clinics, strengthen the volunteer program, work with rescue groups, and maintain “wish lists” for those seeking certain types of dogs. She is also strengthening the dog enrichment program by seeking more volunteers to assist with walking, grooming, and playing with animals at the shelter.
“We want a strong dog enrichment program,” Myers commented. “The more we work and play with the dogs, the more adoptable they are.”
Meyers is also adamant about the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
“There are many myths about the spaying and neutering of pets,” Myers commented. “Spaying or neutering does not make your pet lazy or keep it from being a loyal, loving animal. However, spaying and neutering will keep unwanted puppies and kittens from being born, and they help reduces the illegal and punishable practice of “dumping” or “setting out” unwanted animals. Spaying and neutering often prevents an animal from being picked up by animal control because the dog or cat is literally out “looking for love” in all of the wrong places!”
In addition, Myers reminds pet owners to make sure all pets are tagged and urges all pet owners to call the shelter if their pet goes missing.
For more information about adopting a pet, volunteering, or making a donation, call 606-526-6925 or visit either of the shelter related Facebook pages at Friends of Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter or Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter (both include photos of adoptable pets.) You may also call 310-6422 in McCreary County if interested in volunteering to foster or transport animals.