HAZARD— More than 100 cats and kittens lives were saved last week at the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter (KRRAS) by volunteers, community members, and the media. In a bold move that could have gone the wrong way by having the public scrutinized them , KRRAS posted on their Facebook page Sunday evening on August 9 that more than 50 cats could potentially be euthanize if they were not adopted by Thursday, August 13.
“Realistically what I did was I cried for a long time, for two days, and then I said well I could feel sorry for myself and keep crying or I can turn this over to God because I can’t think of anything to do. I woke up Sunday morning with the idea to just storm the media. To beg the public for help. It was too big for 1 or 2 or 3 of us, we needed all the communities to come together to fix this.” said Tammy Noble, who chairs the KRRAS board, in a phone interview.
On Sunday morning, August 9, KRRAS took photographs of all the cats and kittens. That evening KRRAS uploaded all the photos to their Facebook page and wrote on their Facebook wall that more than 50 cats could be euthanize if they were not adopted by August 13. Noble contacted radio stations in Letcher, Knot, and Breathitt counties. Each of the radio stations agreed to give Noble airtime during part of their morning show on Monday, and Tuesday to discuss with the radio station’s listeners about how KRRAS was trying to adopt out cats and kittens, and how the public could help. All three radio stations also posted on their Facebook pages urging the public to help KRRAS.
Noble explained KRRAS’s decision to post the photos and the Facebook post about the cats potentially being euthanize.
“If the public don’t know, they can’t help you.” she said. Noble stated that a lot of animal shelters don’t want to tell the public that the animals in their shelters could possibly be euthanize because of the negative publicity, but Noble felt the reward of saving hundreds of lives out-weighted the risk of public scrutiny.
Noble said everyone at KRRAS knew that the public was their last hope and Noble was in awe with the positive feedback from the surrounding communities.
“It’s Eastern Kentucky, you know, its like our hearts are big… I was in awe, I really was in awe.” she said. Noble said that people were waiting in lines at the gates to KRRAS before volunteers had arrived on Monday and Tuesday mornings. People came from all across the state to adopt a cat or kitten, volunteer, or donate money to help offset the cost of adopting a cat or kitten. Noble said they had come people from Frankfort, Lexington, Corbin, Harlan, Floyd County, and Campton. People who showed up told employees and volunteers at KRRAS that they heard it on the news and saw on social media that more than 50 cats needed to be adopted out or faced being euthanize on August 13.
Adoption rates were lowered to $5 for cats and $10 for kittens, because KRRAS had donors who sponsored the cats and kittens for adoption. Almost Home was one of the rescues that sponsored cats. Noble said that KRRAS also had individual donations from people who couldn’t adopt any more animals, but wished to sponsor a cat or kitten. KRRAS spayed and neutered every cat, and also had them vaccinated.
Noble couldn’t believe by Tuesday night that 102 cats had been adopted. KRRAS had opened early and stayed late both Monday and Tuesday. A sign was posted on their gate Tuesday evening that told the public that all cats had been adopted.
“It was amazing, honestly, it was beyond blessed. God stepped in and took care of it. He brought all those people together, because there was no way that we could have done that on our own. Like I said, we had to make a decision to either announce a negative and beg for help or just euthanize them and nobody would have ever known.” she said.
Noble was proud of the communities response to KRRAS”s plea for help in saving cats lives from being euthanize.
“It was incredible… everyone coming together for a common cause. It is amazing what people can do when they work together.” she said.
Noble felt that words did not do the justice that she felt towards everyone that helped out, and offered these words for them.
“I just want to thank the public… it is truly incredible, I just can’t… I was thinking today was Wednesday and how I was like Oh my Gosh, how many are going to be left at the end of the day and in 24 hours 102 cats had been adopted. I want to thank the public, the employees of the shelter, the volunteers, the donors, the people who even just shared it on Facebook, the people who helped get the word out there. That is the thing I want to do, is thank all the people. I don’t know how you could even express the gratitude. I think saying thank you is a shallow word compared to what the public gave us.” she said.
TJ Caudill can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.