Shelter taking hits on policy

Nola Sizemore Staff Writer

September 13, 2013

Making a second trip to a recent meeting of the Loyall City Council, local veterinarian Dr. Doug Mickey complained about the Harlan County Animal Shelter’s euthanizing procedures.

Loyall resident and Harlan County Animal Shelter Advisory Board Member Pete Vowell defended the shelter’s policies and Harlan County Animal Control Officer Duncan Caldwell, saying “Caldwell is doing a good job with very limited resources and help.”

Mayor Clarence Longworth added the shelter had been “good” in the past to loan the city traps to catch stray cats. He added he was aware the shelter doesn’t have to take cats, but the stray cat population has grown in the city.

“The stray dog population has decreased dramatically,” said Longworth. “We took them all to the shelter and it has helped with the problem.”

Mickey said he felt the cat policy had changed “in the last years” and he “didn’t know why the shelter won’t take cats other than their anti-euthanizing policy.”

“They told us from the start, the shelter can’t get rid of the cats,” said Longworth. “Shelters across the state don’t take cats.”

Mickey said when rescue groups get involved, the shelter seems to be “done with collecting animals.”

Longworth said he fears cats will be destroyed inhumanly if there is no other alternative.

“We have a petition out to give people of Harlan County first consideration in adopting and dropping off strays and euthanize the rest,” said Mickey. “That should be the mission of the shelter, I think. They have a guy working there, on a salary, and he’s the animal control officer. Well, there’s not much control going on.”

Vowell joined the conversation saying as far as the shelter accepting animals, the regulations are all geared toward dogs - not cats.

“I know they have had cats at the shelter,” said Vowell. “The shelter is not constructed in a way to house cats. They have a very small space to house cats and there are so many stray cats in the county. This is the fourth animal control officer the county has had and budget wise they are limited. We started out with nothing — an old garage converted. I want to take up for the animal control officer because he is responsible for the entire county, approximately 30,000 residents.”

Vowell suggested Mickey attend the shelter’s advisory board meeting to express his concerns.

Loyall resident Becky Burgess suggested Mickey go to a Harlan Fiscal Court meeting and speak directly with the court and Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop about his concerns since they are ultimately in charge of the shelter.

“Duncan Caldwell doesn’t have control, no group in Florida has control. No one else has control. Joe Grieshop is the one who has control,” said Burgess. “If you want to know something and know correctly, go to Joe Grieshop’s office or fiscal court.”

Longworth said he had been told when residents called Grieshop’s office about the shelter they are being told to call the city of Loyall.

“You can’t get through to talk to Joe Grieshop,” said Mickey. “You can’t get him to answer anything. It’s convenient to come to the council meeting because it’s at 7 p.m. The fiscal court meetings are at 10 a.m. when no one can attend them. That cuts out a lot of working people who would like to go to these meetings. Good luck if you’re trying to get in touch with Joe Grieshop.”

Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, nsizemore@civitasmedia.com