McCracken County animal shelter and humane society enter contract
By Mason Watkins
MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. -
The seats were full of opponents to the merger, but the vote was unanimous in favor. As of January 1, 2016 the McCracken County Humane will care for the animals formerly housed at the animal shelter and become the sole animal facility.
Judge Executive Bob Leeper told the crowd he believe the humane society has proven itself over the past three years, but when the topic was opened up for discussion one last time, opponents disagreed.
"You can put a lot of things in your contract and you can cover a lot of things, but you can't cover what's in their heart," said Michelle Freeman. "They do not have a heart for the animals."
Darren Sparks has been outspoken about his concerns and told the commissioners he felt like no one listened.
"I'm disappointed that from the get-go," he said. "I feel that we haven't had a chance. That your mind is been made up."
He and other opponents have maintained that the Humane Society is selective about which animals it takes, it's business plan is about making money rather than helping animals, and their trust was broken by the poor euthanasia practices in the past.
Commissioner Bill Bartleman tried to ease concerns by sharing parts of the contract. Among other things he talked about how those concerns were brought to the bargaining table. In the contract, the MCHS is required to spend 90% of it's income for operating expenses and any total revenue exceeds its expenses for the three year period, MCHS will refund the surplus money to the County. He also reiterated the euthanasia practices will only be used if animals are sick beyond control or a danger to staff or other animals.
Finally, he said having a voting member on the MCHS board is a big step.
"When I met with the Humane Society, some of them are pretty adamant they did not want a voting member of the board appointed by the County judge, but through negotiations, I think they realize that was important to accountability," he said.
Diana Cruickshank took to the podium to talk about that position.
"Please make sure to be there and somebody who's going to be there," she said. "Not just somebody is going to show up for the board meetings."
The county will pay the MCHS $217,5000 a year to run the shelter with 90% of the money required to go to operating expenses. Either side can terminate the three year agreement at any time, but there has to be a six month notice. Leeper said that ensures they can make other arrangements, but doesn't see the deal ending any time soon.
The contract is effective January 1, 2016 but MCHS can start accepting animals when their expansion is complete.