WKYT Investigates: The state of animal shelters in Kentucky

Published: Aug. 18, 2016 at 4:54 PM EDT
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One year after a WKYT investigation found some Kentucky animal shelters were not keeping up with the state's minimum standards, changes to the law may be coming.

A group of six students from the University of Kentucky and Lincoln Memorial University spent the summer going to all 90 county animal shelters.

"If you don't know what the problems are, it can be hard to really solve those problems," explained the group's leader, University of Kentucky Professor Cynthia Gaskill.

The group presented their findings, called the 'Current Status of Kentucky County Animal Shelters' this month to the Kentucky Animal Control Advisory Board in Frankfort. Results were gathered by rating how well each shelter complied with the state's minimum standards. The common problems identified in the study were a lack of funding, lack of education and inconsistent volunteers and workforce.

"You have to have a passion for this," said Rachel Cullman-Clark. "It was a lot of time and a lot of driving," she said.

The students rated the compliance of each county shelter with the state standards.

"Ultimately, the goal was to determine, is more funding at the state level necessary, and more oversight at the state level necessary," Gaskill explained.

The last law that was written on shelter standards took effect in 2007, and took the policing away from the state, and put it in the hands of the counties. "The counties have had 10 years to be responsible for their county shelter, and I think we found that that's not working," Cullman-Clark said. The group identified 26 shelters in the state, well below the state standards.

Gaskill said as the results were shown to the Kentucky Animal Control Advisory Board, "In some of these cases we cringed because we hated to give that shelter a red (low score) because the people in that shelter cared so much and tried so hard. They just didn't have the facilities."

The current shelter standard laws took policing of the animal shelters out of the hands of the state, and put it in the hands of each county. Cullman-Clark said, "The counties have had ten years to be responsible for their county shelter and I think we found that's not working."

Mike Cassidy is president of the Kentucky Animal Control Advisory Board. He listened as the group showed their findings for the first time to the board that reports straight to the agriculture commissioner.

"Excellent to show lawmakers why we need change," he said. "We never had those statistics in the past." Now, he said he has proof to take to lawmakers. "It's going to save us a lot of trouble when we go to Frankfort to try to introduce legislation." Cassidy said county shelters need more funding and more training.

1. Fulton County Animal Shelter
2. Carlisle County Animal Shelter
3. Tri-County Animal Shelter (Albany, KY)
4. Garrard County Animal Shelter
5. Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter (Hazard, KY)
6. Spencer County Animal Shelter
7. Martin County Animal Shelter
8. Greenup County Animal Shelter
9. Estill County Animal Shelter
10. Crittenden County Animal Shelter
11. Marion County Animal Shelter
12. Green River Animal Shelter
13. Ballard County Animal Control
14. Robertson County Animal Shelter
15. Floyd County Animal Shelter
16. Breckinridge County Animal Shelter
17. Anderson County Animal Shelter
18. Butler County Animal Shelter
19. Muhlenberg County Animal Shelter
20. Lincoln County Animal Shelter
21. Clark County Animal Shelter
22. Ward Vet Clinic (Hickman, KY)
23. Caldwell County Animal Shelter
24. McLean County Animal Shelter
25. Morgan County Animal Shelter
26. Rockcastle County Animal Shelter