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Officials from Henry and Trimble counties are preparing to enter an interlocal agreement to move forward a project to build an animal shelter.
Approval of the agreement was on the agenda for Henry County’s Fiscal Court meeting after deadline Tuesday.
Local officials learned at the end of December that Louisville-based Kentucky Humane Society had decided not to renew its contracts with the two counties.
KHS has been providing animal-control services to Henry and Trimble, including operation of an animal shelter in Eminence, since 2003. Henry County had been paying $90,000 annually for the service; Trimble had been paying $55,000 annually.
Roger Hartlage, a Henry County magistrate, was named chairman of a committee to get the project under way. Henry Magistrates Nick Hawkins and Mike Fisher also are on the committee, along with Trimble Magistrate David Scott.
Hartlage said Tuesday that the hardest part of the project is wading through government red tape to procure funding for the facility, which he estimates will cost at least $100,000 to build.
Trimble Judge-Executive Randy Stevens said last month that officials from both counties were working with Valley View Landfill, which has offered to donate 2 acres of buffer land on its property for the facility.
Getting the deed to the property – and finalizing the interlocal agreement – are the key to getting the project going so it can be completed by July, Hartlage said.
The next step is funding. He said one state grant that is available has a July deadline and doesn’t award funds until September. But, “we want to be up and running by July 1.”
The KHS contracts expire June 30. KHS has offered to provide interim support until the counties are ready to take over.
Hartlage said he and the others on the committee – and both Fiscal Courts and county judge-executives – “want to do this right.
“I think KHS has done a good job,” Hartlage said. “We could do a little better, especially with more spay and neuter.”
Hartlage said educating pet owners on the importance of spaying and neutering pets will be the key to reducing the unwanted pet population and, ultimately, reducing the cost to taxpayers.
“We want our animal control officer to be like the Maytag repairman – we don’t want him to have anything to do,” Hartlage said.
Scott agreed. “That’s our best hope – for people to be responsible and to have good spay/neuter programs. That’s our only hope” for controlling the animal population.
Asked if he thought spay/neuter should be mandated by county ordinances, Hartlage said no. “I think it’s better to get people to volunteer to have their pets spayed or neutered.”
Scott, however, said he would be willing to consider such an ordinance in Trimble County. “I think it may be something that really needs to be looked at.”
At the very least, Scott said controlling the pet population will require stricter enforcement of all existing animal-control ordinances.
He said the county could consider charging more for dog licenses to pet owners who cannot provide proof that their dog is altered.
Both counties want to keep the cost of building the shelter and providing animal control as low as possible, and keep euthanasia to a minimum.
“I’d love to see a clean, no-kill facility,” Scott said. Knowing there will be budgetary constraints, though, he said, “our goal is to do the very best we can with what we have to do it with. ... We certainly don’t want to have anything like we had before.”
Scott was referring to 2002, when a videotape sent to Louisville news media showed an employee of the Henry County shelter shooting dogs rather than euthanizing by humane injection. The facility also took in dogs from Trimble and Gallatin counties at the time.
A portion of the video, easily found online, shows the employee beating a dog against heavy machinery when it didn’t die immediately from the gunshot.
Shortly afterward, Henry and Trimble contracted with KHS to take over the facility. The intense media coverage of the incident also led the General Assembly to impose a ban in 2004 to prohibit counties from using gunshot to euthanize animals.
“Things change,” Scott said.
Hartlage and Scott both said they are impressed with the spirit of cooperation between the two counties.
“Trimble County has been a great partner,” Hartlage said.
Scott said officials from both counties appear to be on the same page, in terms of goals. “The thing that’s really impressive is the ability of the two counties to work together.”
Hartlage said he would also welcome any donations that might be made by local businesses, industry or individuals to help with the cost of the new facility, which could, in turn, help the counties afford a better shelter.
For more information about the project or to offer donations, call the Trimble judge-executive’s office at (502) 255-7196 or the Henry judge-executive’s office at (502) 845-5707.