HAZARD- Southeastern Kentucky is best known for three things, beautiful scenery, coal, and the enormous stray animal population. Thanks to efforts by the Kentucky River Regional Animal Shelter (KRRAS) the stray animal problem may soon be controlled.
Last week, officials with the KRRAS set out 10 live traps in an attempt to capture a pack of feral cats who inhabit the CVS and Dairy Queen parking lots on the Johnny Cox All-American Drive. The cats would then be transported to the HOPE Clinic in Versailles, Ky., to be spayed or neutered and then released back into the area.
Tom Caudill, manager at KRRAS, said that the shelter caught a total of nine cats in this operation, which took place from Wednesday through Friday of last week. The animals were all altered and released by Monday, and Caudill said these efforts will greatly help reduce the uncontrolled breeding in the area and help limit the pack size.
In 2011, 95 percent of animals brought into the KRRAS were euthanized. Last year the percent dropped to 9 percent, reported Tammy Noble, board chairman for KRRAS. Noble said that the shelter attacked the problem from several angles.
“The way that we’ve done that is not just with rescue efforts, which that plays a major role in it, getting animals out to no-kill rescues, the other part is, in 2012 we started our first income based spay and neuter program, we’ve done over 1,000 animals through that,” Noble said.
Noble went on to say that the goal was to prevent animals from coming to the shelter and being euthanized. The reduction in the euthanization rate through rescue efforts and spay and neuter programs helped keep this number down.
“That equates out to about 6,000 animals not being euthanized,” said Noble about the reduction.
KRRAS offers multiple other programs to area residents to help control the pet population, Noble said. Two years ago, the shelter began an income based spay and neuter program. There is a waiting list for the program currently, but anyone with a household income of less than $55,000 per year can call the Kentucky River Area Development District (KRADD) office and apply. The cost for the program is $50.
KRRAS also began a free pit bull and pit bull mix spay and neuter program this year. The program is funded by the ASPCA and the HOPE clinic received a grant to cover the cost of performing the operations. They have altered 12 pit bulls in this program so far this year, Noble said.
The grant to the HOPE Clinic funds the spay and neuter for pit bull and pit bull mixes in Kentucky. Any resident of Kentucky can transport their pit bull there for a free spay or neuter, Noble reported. KRAAS put together the program to help area residents transport their animals to help offset the cost of transportation as pit bull are the number one breed euthanized in animal shelters.
KRRAS also offers a voucher program for spay and neuter. Residents can call the KRADD office to be put on the waiting list for the program. Noble reported that there were approximately 50 people on the waiting list and the cost was $30.
Another program offered by KRRAS is Spay-it-Forward. Noble stated that this program is offered to people who have a female dog that is pregnant and who do not want the puppies. If the owner agrees to keep the dam, they would pay a fee of $35 which would cover the cost of vaccinating both the puppies and the mother and also cover the cost of spaying the mother. The owner would have to agree to keep the puppies for two weeks before either bringing them to the shelter or having them picked up by the dog warden. This helps to prevent the parvo virus from coming into the shelter, reported Noble.
Noble said that if the four counties in the region the KRRAS services each offered this program to one person per month it would prevent 300 dogs from coming into the shelter every year.
Noble went on to say that she had offered the program to 60-70 people and only two had turned it down.
KRAAS is continuing to try to help control the pet population and to help stop uncontrolled breeding of both cats and dogs, Noble stated.
“We’re not just attacking the population … we’re trying to stop them from coming into the shelter by spaying and neutering,” Noble said.
Gwendolyn Holliday can be reached at 606-436-5771 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.