Local county to decide on animal shelter contract

Three years of controversy over how to shelter local animals could come to an end Monday night. “I believe the decision will be done tonight, and the minds are made up,” said animal shelter supporter Darren Sparks.

McCracken County Judge Executive Bob Leeper said he would be shocked if anything happens at Monday night’s commissioners meeting that would derail a vote on whether to contract for animal shelter services with the humane society. The county broke ties with them back in 2011 because of inhumane euthanasia practices and opened their own, temporary shelter.   

It costs $241,000 a year to run the McCracken County Animal Shelter, and the cost to build a brand new one mounts up to at least $1 million. Under the proposed contract, the county would pay $217,500 a year. It’s a cost saving plan for tax payers, but animal shelter advocates said they think the animals could end up losing in the long run.

Sparks has been volunteering at the county animal shelter for about a year. He said these animals deserve a decision. “I think everybody knows that this should have been done a long time ago,” Sparks said.

The county has considered building a new shelter, or contracting again with the humane society. “I think it’s for the betterment of the community and the animals,” said Director Terry Vannerson. She also emphasized that their policies and services have changed. “There were some things that weren’t right in the past, and we have made a 360 degree turn on it. We have changed everything.”

Shelter supporters like Sparks are still concerned about the humane society housing bully breeds like pit bulls, adoption pricing, and the shelter’s euthanasia policy. “I can forgive, but I don’t necessarily want to put myself back in that situation. It’s like the saying, ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,'” Sparks said.

The ultimate decision is up to county leaders, but animal lovers alike said they’re just ready to know what it is.

The proposal does address Sparks’ concerns about euthanasia, bully breeds, and pricing. There’s a cap at $300 for adoptions, the humane society would have to shelter pits and pit mixes, and euthanasia would only be used if an animal is sick or dangerous.

There was a local rescue interested in running the county’s animal shelter, but Judge Leeper said he was not comfortable entering into two negotiations at once.

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