In 2005, the Harlan County Animal Shelter euthanized 98% of the animals it took in. Now years later, leaders there have worked to reduce that number, and it's earned them statewide recognition.
If only animals could talk, we would all know their story. But the ones who make it to the Harlan County Animal Shelter these days have a better chance of finding a happy home.
"We are limiting the numbers that are coming in," said Duncan Caldwell, of the Harlan County Animal Shelter.
Caldwell said it's a community effort.
The shelter offers spaying and neutering services to the public, which officials say has helped control the pet population.
"With the euthanasia numbers so high, you've got to sit back and say to yourself, there's got to be a better way," said Caldwell.
Now less than 10% of the animals that come in are euthanized. Rescue organizations from Chicago and Minneapolis make their way to Harlan County to take the animals back to be adopted.
For these efforts the shelter was named Animal Shelter of the Year by the Kentucky Animal Care and Control Association.
"That is a huge change for a rural Southeastern Kentucky shelter to accomplish that," said Caldwell.
"As long as I live, I'll keep it," said Ollie Bates, of Harlan.
Folks like Bates are glad the shelter is providing spay and neuter services, because she has a new cat and wants to make sure it's taken care of.
"It was raining. It came on my porch, and it wouldn't leave, so I started feeding it," said Bates.
The shelter's main focus is rescuing animals as well as spaying and neutering them.
Because of that they only adopt out five to ten animals each month.
Spay and neuter procedures are based on a client's income level. There is a small co-pay for all services.
For more information, call the shelter at 606-573-8867.