Beating the odds
Most dogs are placed by shelter
Every year, over a thousand dogs find their way into the Lincoln County Animal Shelter. Through the efforts of volunteers and Shelter Director Dude Cress, 94 percent of the dogs are adopted out to families in Lincoln County and, increasingly, across the country. (Photo by Katelynn Griffin)
Earlin “Dude” Cress, the director of the Lincoln County Animal Shelter, has been overseeing the facility since its opening about three years ago. The majority of the animals that are brought to the shelter are strays that are picked up by Animal Control Officers. However, some are surrendered by their owners, usually due to the animal being incompatible with the owner.
Luckily, the animal shelter has a high placement rate, thanks to some much needed outside help. Hillary Culver runs the Black Cat Rescue and is important to helping these animals find homes. The shelter places 94 percent of the dogs that it takes in. “If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t be doing nearly as good as we are,” Cress said.
Culver comes to the Lincoln County Animal Shelter at least once a week to take photos of the animals available for adoption. She then places the photos on petfinder.com, a web site dedicated to helping people find their perfect furry companions. The photos may even be sent to other rescues that may have room for more animals in their facilities.
She is able to place animals in homes, many traveling north, to states such as Maine, Pennsylvania and Michigan- some go as far as Canada. Technology has played a big part in the adoption of these animals.
“The internet has made a big difference in getting these dogs a home,” Culver said. Since the internet has brought everyone closer together, it is not uncommon for a person in New York to see a picture of a dog or cat that they wish to adopt. Then they get into contact with Culver and thanks to a group of volunteers, they will transport the animal to the owner.
Kristie Jones is one such volunteer who lives in Springfield, Kentucky and makes the drive to Lincoln in order to transport the animals that they save. She recalled one adoption in which a person paid $368 for a Delta ticket in order to have the dog flown to Oregon.
Southern areas have an overabundance of pets in shelters, but northern areas are literally seeking animals for adoption. This difference can be credited to the north’s intensive spay and neuter laws.
Jones and Culver both agree that if Kentucky had such laws it would help tremendously. Throughout the state there is a major problem with overcrowded shelters and it gets worse the closer you get to the mountains. In Hazard the shelter faces a 96 percent euthanasia rate. Culver stated that one reason for Lincoln’s lack of spayed and neutered pets is due to resident’s low incomes.
However, there is a facility in neighboring Danville that offers affordable spay and neuter services at a discount. Happy Paws Spay/Neuter Clinic offers low-cost affordable services, directed toward people on public assistance or those with low or fixed incomes. The clinic is operated by the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society.
According to Kentucky law, dogs that are picked up as strays have to be held for a week, but the rescue groups can immediately take a dog that has been surrendered. Unfortunately, the rule does not apply to cats. Felines are not as protected as their canine counterparts and in fact there is no waiting period for a stray cat. However, Cress does hold the cats in order to give Culver a chance to try and save them. Culver is currently working on getting a better system to help cats and kittens.
“We could use volunteers, fosters and transporters,” Culver said. With all the work that Jones and Culver, plus the numerous volunteers from other organizations, put into saving animals, they would rather be out of business. “Our greatest dream is to not have to do this,” Jones said. She also stresses that since summer is upon us, please remember to provide your pet with plenty of fresh water, shade and don’t leave your dog in a car.
It was a consensus among all of those interviewed for this story that in order for rescue groups to become obsolete, there needs to be an increase in responsibility by pet owners, strict spay/neuter policies and an increase in adoptions from local shelters.
The Lincoln Animal Shelter charges a small fee for adoptions, but it includes spay/neuter, rabies shot and a dog license. Located in Stanford, the shelter is opened from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday and until noon on Saturday.
“We encourage people to check the local shelters; adopt before you shop,” Jones said.
If you are interested in animal adoption or helping with the process, contact Culver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about Happy Paws' low-cost spay and neuter programs, call (859) 691-1137.