Last updated: August 07. 2013 9:19AM - 125 Views

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I believe I’ve heard it all now. Just the other day I heard from a distraught client that a stray cat with wounded, partially amputated foot and a maggot infestation was turned away from the Harlan County Animal Shelter (HCAS). The reason, “If we euthanize any animals, the Humane Society of America will close down the shelter.” That is totally false. The Humane Society has no authority over the shelter.

Like most of us I assumed that the Harlan County Animal Shelter existed to serve the tax paying citizens of the county. That, sadly, is no longer the case. Unfortunately the HCAS now exists to serve outside rescue groups and national animal humane groups. That’s right! Those in charge of the animal shelter now turn away local citizens who want to adopt, drop off strays and have injured strays humanely euthanized.

Case in point, the shelter no longer takes in stray cats. None at all. They say, “Cats are predators and can fend for themselves.” Sick and injured cats, too? Really! What about the wild animals who are at the mercy of a domestic overpopulation of stray cats?

This summer, I have heard from you, the citizens of Harlan County, on a daily basis about our dysfunctional animal shelter. Of course, those involved with running the shelter may deny all this, but you know better because you see the result. Let’s be honest.

When I came to Harlan 15 years ago to join my father’s veterinary practice, we had no shelter. I sat on the shelter advisory board with other concerned citizens when it came time to organize and build the animal shelter. At one of our meetings I was asked by Joe Grieshop if I thought the stray animal population of the county could be under control with three years. My reply was maybe 10 years if all goes well. Well, all has not gone well.

Out tax funded public servants are missing the big picture here or have other agendas. It all comes down to simple common sense. One: You can’t save all unwanted and abandoned animals. The shelter does not have the capacity for this nor do the rescue groups. Two: If you attempt this you are neglecting the greater stray population. Three: If you neglect to control the stray population you directly contribute to an increase in the number of stray animals. Seems like common sense to me. How about you?

Unfortunately, some animals must be euthanized for the greater good of all animals (domestic and wild) and people as well. No county government has the resources to save all the stray animals — healthy or not. This is not a county facilities purpose. County animal shelters contribute to the stray population when they adopt anti-euthanasia policies. If state and national associations with their millions of dollars of donated money, want to build a privately funded “no kill shelter” in Harlan County, then great. Let’s get started. To date I haven’t seen that type of commitment. We are on our own.

For whatever reason, the state of Kentucky lacks the rule of law to guide county shelters on their mission to control stray populations. You voices need to be heard at all levels of government so that this situation can be rectified. I have talked to many government officials who agree that new laws need to be passed. Please call your local and state representatives and voice your opinions on this problem. Remember you vote does Count, especially at the local level.

Dr. Doug Mickey

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