August 26, 2013

Animal advocates address concerns about number of shelter euthanizations

By Nita Johnson
Staff Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Animal advocates are concerned about the number of animals who are euthanized at the county’s animal shelter and they brought their concern to magistrates.

Kathryn Callahan, an attorney with animal rescue organizations, addressed the Laurel County Fiscal Court on Thursday, stating the rate of adopted animals compared to the rate of euthanized animals at the local shelter is atrocious.

“During the 2012 calendar year, 3,986 animals were brought to the shelter, and 3,819 of them were killed,” Callahan said. “That’s 96 percent and only four percent that are left alive.”

Callahan cited several state laws regarding the holding time of unwanted animals, stating some of the dogs brought into the shelter had microchips but the owners had never been notified of its whereabouts. She warned that some type of action was needed, not only to protect animals from euthanasia, but to avoid potential lawsuits by the dog owners.

Callahan said allowing rescue groups to come into the shelter would allow unclaimed animals to be moved to other areas — especially northern Kentucky — where they could be adopted. Another county had allowed this and their euthanization rates dropped dramatically.

“The other county had 99 percent euthanasia rate and once they allowed animal rescue to come in, they dropped to 51 percent,” Callahan said. “The law says animals have a minimum of five days at a shelter with the exception of being wounded or suffering. Now you are paying for euthanization for a fee, then the cost of burying the bodies at the landfill for a fee. This would help the taxpayers and save the animals.”

Westerfield agreed to meet with the animal advocates, starting with Homeward Bound members, at the next committee meeting on Sept. 9.