Animal shelter and humane society await fiscal court decision
By Mason Watkins
MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. -
What's the best choice for animals in a local county looking for a home? Volunteers on one side of the debate are trying to make their offer more attractive. "We're gonna keep upping the ante as much as we can," said Michelle Freeman.
The conversation about whether to contract with the humane society or build a brand new shelter has been happening in McCracken County now for about three years. Both sides have different ideas about what would be best, but the one thing they can agree on is that they're ready for the fiscal court to make a final call. Animal shelter supporters are trying to convince commissioners to make a decision in their favor by sweetening the deal with some financial support from the community.
The animal shelter, tarped up to hold in heat through the winter, was always meant to be temporary. Volunteers who work there on a regular basis said the best solution is a brand new building. "I really don't think it would cost a million dollars to build a new shelter. We could cut the frills," Freeman said. She knows commissioners are concerned about the cost. That's why she's been collecting pledges. "Today, I'm happy to say we have over $43,000. Its changing daily. More and more people are getting involved."
Without a final call from the fiscal court, volunteers can't actually collect money or donations. Diana Cruickshank said, "Just about everyone I've talked to has said 'I will donate when it comes to be.' So, that's part of our problem."
It's also a problem for the humane society. Director Terry Vannerson said it's holding up their plans to bring the county a discounted spay and neuter program. "In January I have to make a decision how we're going to go... whether we're with the county or not," she said. In her opinion, uniting is the best choice for the animals. Her reasoning: "The training we have and the experience we have to go on and the fact that we have the opportunity to go ahead and enlarge and have a state of the art building."
Animal shelter supporters are just as adamant, though, taking the position that the county is large enough to have two separate shelters.
The pledges for a new McCracken County Animal Shelter will become null and void if the county contracts with the humane society. If commissioners vote to build a new shelter, people would get a year to pay out their pledge in full.
The next fiscal court meeting is this coming Monday, so they could take a vote then. This could be an issue for the new fiscal court to take on when they take over in January.
McCracken County Deputy Judge Executive Doug Harnice said the county could set up a fund for donations. The money would have to be filtered in through their general fund if they decide not to contract with the humane society.