animal shelters

Kevin Willis

It’s the time of year when animal shelters across the state become inundated with kittens.

Margie Patton, with the Barren River Animal Welfare Association in Glasgow, says many in the shelter community come to dread the spring and summer months because of the number of cats that are dropped off.

She says it’s a problem that could be largely solved by increased spaying and neutering.

“Most people don’t realize that female cats can get pregnant when they’re four or five months old, and so often people come in and they’ve had this surprise litter,” Patton says. “So we’re trying to encourage people to spay or neuter their cats before they’re four months of age.”

According to Patton, BRAWA has made solid gains in recent years in the number of dogs it’s been able to match with new owners. But the ability of cats to procreate at such a prolific level makes it nearly impossible for the shelter to handle the number of felines that are dropped off.

“They can have three litters a year, four litters a year. The females will stay in heat and just keep having kittens. We’ve had some who were in here to get spayed, who had eight-week old kittens, and they were already pregnant again.”

Patton says many kind-hearted people feed stray cats in their communities. She suggest bringing those strays to the shelter to be spayed or neutered is an even better idea, because it’s much easier to find a home for one cat, as opposed to a litter of kittens.

Emil Moffatt

Over the last decade, thousands of dogs rescued in Barren County have found new homes, not only in South Central Kentucky, but also in other parts of the country. It’s thanks to a partnership between a Glasgow animal shelter and PetSmart Charities.

A few minutes before five o’clock on a mild March morning in Glasgow, a large green van pulls into the parking lot of a one-story brick building.  About a half-hour before, the lights of the animal shelter came on, an employee of the Barren River Animal Welfare Association took several shelter dogs out for a walk in preparation for the long road trip ahead.  The destination for 24 dogs is a shelter in Dubuque, Iowa.

Volunteers begin streaming into the shelter’s lobby more than an hour before sunrise. It’s all-hands-on-deck for the next few furious minutes as they prepare the dogs for the journey on PetSmart Charities’ “Rescue Waggin’”

“Once they get here, we’re supposed to be able to load one dog every five minutes or three minutes," said Margie Patton, who runs the shelter in Glasgow.  "Sometimes we can do that, sometimes we can’t.  We have volunteers who will have dogs ready, so that when one goes out the door, the next one is ready to be checked by their vet tech."

A mild-mannered western Kentucky farmer who never turned away a stray cat left a portion of his estate to every county-run animal shelter in the state.

County officials received checks earlier this month for $1,432.47 from a man they never met, a Muhlenberg County dairy farmer named Bland Hardison.

Hardison died in 2008 at age 86 and had set up in his will a gift for the state's animal shelters, said his widow, Jonell Hardison. In total, Hardison set aside nearly $1 million in donations to various charities upon his death, and the estate took years to settle.

Jonell Hardison said Wednesday that her husband loved his pets and even the strays that would wander onto the farm.

Concerned citizens protested Tuesday morning outside the Taylor County animal shelter. The shelter will be closed to the public in April, and will instead, become a holding facility. Animals won’t be available for adoption by the public. Instead they will be transferred to other county shelters after spending one day in the holding facility. 

Harry Reif is president of the Taylor County SPCA.  He, among others, is looking for answers.

"It's Taylor county tax money that pays for the shelter, and the people of Taylor county feel they should have a voice in how it's operated and what the facility is used for," suggests Reif.