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County animal shelter nearing completion

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Construction could finish next month

By Marty Finley

Despite limited resources, PAWS Shelter Foundation has fostered the founding of a new county animal shelter on Peterson Drive, which will be turned over to Hardin County Animal Control this summer.

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Deedie Layman, foundation president, said the majority of the interior has been completed and work should conclude next month. The foundation intends to transfer the property to the county for Hardin County Animal Control by July 1.

Contractors juggled tasks this week, addressing water lines, lighting, electricity and painting as the foundation continued to reach out for donations — still $500,000 to $600,000 short of its financial goal of roughly $1 million, Layman said.

Hardin Judge-Executive Harry Berry has proposed a $513,000 budget for Animal Control this year, roughly $150,000 of which will be used to

increase staff and cover operation costs.

Two full-time employees likely are needed but the assistance may manifest in the form of several part-time employees or a part-time employee and another animal warden, Berry said.

The county will amass other costs, such as equipment, as it prepares for the move from the Nicholas Street shelter, Berry said.

Animal Control’s budget was $355,000 last year. Director Jerry Foley directed all questions about the shelter to Berry’s office.

The new location is much larger, expanding Animal Control’s space from around 2,000 to 14,000 square feet with state-of-the-art technology, such as an automated flushing system to wash away animal waste and keep holding areas clean, said Diane Shoffner, director of marketing and fundraising for PAWS.

A tour of the facility found sections cordoned off for adoption areas and “get acquainted” rooms, where visitors can mingle with prospective pets. The shelter houses a surgery and recovery room, a food preparation room, a “groom room,” a space to examine animals with illness or disease and a holding area for stray animals, which are kept for a week to give owners a chance to reclaim them before adoption proceedings start, Shoffner said. An exotic animal room has been devised near the back of the facility with access to the outdoors via a retained garage door, where the errant cow or emu could be situated.

One of the most prominent aspects of the new shelter is the installation of more than 130 kennels compared to the 60 or so at the current facility.

“This is going to double their kennel space,” Shoffner said.

“And hopefully every dog will have their own,” Layman added.

Contractors are completing a reception area at the front of the hall, office space and a break room for employees. Every room of the new shelter will be constructed but the county will be obligated to equip many of the rooms with appliances and furnishings, Layman said.

To thank those who have given generously, the foundation is developing a donor wall for display inside the shelter.

“It’s very overwhelming,” Layman said of the progress on the shelter.

Shoffner said PAWS is committed to the project because its members want to reverse Kentucky’s last-place ranking for animal protection laws by the Animal Legal Defense Fund. The statistic is attributed to numerous failures in negating animal abuses, such as inadequate definitions and standards for basic care, no felony provisions for neglect and abandonment, no restrictions on future ownership or possession of animals following a conviction and a prohibition on veterinarians reporting animal cruelty or fighting.

Shoffner said the state must do better, and the shelter will stand out as one of the strongest and best animal facilities in Kentucky.

Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com