The drab concrete block structure in Junction City looked like the last stop for a prisoner of war, but, in 1972 in Boyle County, it was the best hope for an unwanted dog. The sad building was an improvement to what had existed before — nothing.
Since then, the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society has made remarkable strides but has not yet run out of puppies and kittens — or ideas.
“We can do better,” said Executive Director Kathy Nelsen, who has been with the agency for seven years.
“DBCHS turns 40 in 2012, and we will celebrate all year long,” Nelsen said. “And we are planning great things for the future.”
How it began
Charlotte Bateman, Sally Jackson and Max Cavnes filed articles of incorporation Aug. 13, 1972, to establish DBCHS to “promote, institute, and provide humane treatment, care, control and assistance to any and all animals in need of such care.”
Boyle County operated a dog pound at the time near Perryville. There was no running water there or lights or heat.
The humble beginnings of the humane society in Junction City joined forces with Boyle County Fiscal Court after DBCHS bought 2.27 acres next to the Boyle County Fairgrounds for $12,000.
One of the first things the newly formed “humane society” did was take a field trip to Franklin County to see a facility there which then became the template for new construction here. At that time, even the concept that there might be other options besides destroying unwanted animals was so new and radical that the point of such a society required an explanation. A newspaper article from Aug. 27, 1972, about the fact-finding trip said:
“The record of the Frankfort Society has been somewhat astounding. The procedure for receiving an unclaimed animal includes what is called an “animal adoption.” During the past 13 months, the group, by adoption, has placed 207 dogs, 167 puppies, 50 cats, 71 kittens, one hen, a hog, a duck, a billy goat, a pig and two rabbits in addition to boarding 430 dogs.
Danvillians traveling to Frankfort included Mr. and Mrs. West T.Hill, Mike Marsh, Mr. and Mrs. Max Cavnes, Mrs. Leon Woodrow, Mrs. Robert Bateman, Mr. and Mrs. Joe Davis, Chauncey Alcock and Jackie Cox.”
In 1978, the Charlotte Batement Memorial Animal¿Shelter opened on the property near the fairgrounds and became a home to both the humane society and animal control. The new facility not only housed and treated dogs to be adopted but also opened its doors to cats.
An editorial in The Advocate-Messenger on June 7, 1978, said the difference in the new facility and the old dog pound was “about equal to the difference between the words ‘shelter’ and ‘torture.’”
An important decision that has shaped the direction of the organization was to sterilize every pet adopted out into the community.
Along with adding space over the years and upgrading security, DBCHS has established a pet cemetery on the property, started a dog training program called Mutts with Manners at Northpoint Training Center, and hosts regular adoption events at PetSmart in Nicholasville.
Happy Paws, the DBCHS’s low-cost spay and neuter clinic, has spayed or neutered more than 6,000 dogs and cats since opening in 2007, preventing many thousands of unwanted pets from entering the population.
A foster care program for pets to bridge between the shelter and a new adoptive family and free monthly obedience classes for new owners of dogs adopted from the shelter are among the additional programs added in recent years.
A new web presence went online in 2009 with links to information about pets available for adoption.
More than 50,000 animals have been taken into the shelter in the 40 years since DBCHS opened. Preventing litters from all the animals adopted into the community also has prevented untold suffering.
Nearly 1,400 pets were adopted from DBCHS¿in 2011 alone.