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Dog dilemma

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Shelter still picking up dogs dumped at county line

By Stephen Lega

The Marion County Animal Shelter continues to deal with overcrowded conditions, largely due to dogs being dumped near the Marion-Taylor County line in recent months.

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"We're up to almost 40 dogs that we've picked up in the past six and a half weeks," animal control official Kay Turpin told the Marion County Fiscal Court Thursday. She later added, "We are overwhelmed with Taylor County animals."

As of Monday morning, the shelter had 82 dogs. Tuesday morning, county animal control officials picked up another 20 dogs that had been dropped at the county line.

Sara Gribbins, the county's other animal control official, said she's never seen so many dogs in one area.

"It just keeps on and on and on," she said. "Riding down Campbellsville Highway, they're talking about dogs being hit. They were also shot."

In November, an inmate who did work at the Taylor County Animal Shelter sent a letter to the Central Kentucky News-Journal claiming that animals had been buried alive at that shelter. Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers and Taylor County Animal Shelter Director John Harris have denied the claims.

The Kentucky Board of Veterinary Examiners said it planned to launch an investigation into the allegations, but the Taylor County shelter is open and operating.

Marion County has an agreement to accept dogs from Washington County, but the shelter said they are not supposed to accept dogs from outside of those two counties.

Nevertheless, Taylor County residents have continued to try to bring dogs to the shelter.

Turpin said they try to check the license plates of the vehicles that come to the shelter to see where they are from, although they don't always catch it. Earlier that day a woman from Campbellsville delivered a dog to the shelter, but the staff didn't realize it until it was too late.

Gribbins said she called the woman later and told her she would be billed for the Marion County shelter housing her dog.

"That's the only way I know to maybe even try to stop it is to bill 'em for boarding," Gribbins said.

Magistrates Roger "Cotton" Smothers and Steve Masterson suggested that they check the person's driver's license before accepting any dogs dropped off at the shelter.

Gribbins said some people never get out of the car. They just let the dog out and drive off.

Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly said they may want to post a sign saying they require two forms of ID before someone can drop off a dog.

"If they don't show it, don't accept the animals," Smothers added.

The overcrowding at the shelter has also prompted them to take a closer look at their adoption policies.

Gribbins said they are only adopting dogs if they are spayed or neutered, which caused one person to get upset recently when the shelter refused to adopt a dog to him.

Gribbins also suggested a few other changes to the shelter policy to discourage people from dropping dogs there just because they don't want to care for them anymore.

"If you drop a dog on us and it doesn't get adopted, I think you should be billed for us having to euthanize it," she said.

The court asked Gribbins and Turpin to draft some proposed policy changes and to bring them to the next fiscal court meeting.

Jail to add beds for substance abuse programs

Marion County Jailer Barry Brady has been seeking ways to keep more of the beds full at the Marion County Detention Center. The state has been releasing prisoners as a cost-saving measure, and those empty beds also mean reduced revenue for the detention center.

Last week, Brady got some good news. Marion County will be allowed to designate 128 beds for substance abuse program participants.

At this time, the jail already designates 42 beds for a six-month substance abuse program for male inmates. The detention center will be adding 40 beds for a three-month program for male inmates and 42 beds for a three-month program for female inmates.

Brady said there is a backlog of inmates trying to get into substance abuse programs, which means those beds will remain filled.

The court voted to allow Brady to hire three additional employees to operate those programs.

In other news:

- Judge Mattingly gave $500 of his community welfare funds and the magistrates gave $100 each from their community project funds to help the Marion County JROTC program.

The JROTC program would like to build an obstacle course near the tennis courts at the high school. This would include climbing walls, a rope bridge, climbing ropes, monkey bars, vaults and pull-up bars.

ShaKyra Young and Sydney Reed of the JROTC program said the obstacle course would be used for physical training, but it could also be used for conditioning for sports programs and for field day activities at the high school. By having their own course, the high school may also be able to host competitions as well.

- The court approved the purchase of a used ambulance for $19,000.

- The magistrates also approved a renewal of the dental insurance policy for county employees. Delta Dental offered a renewal option with the same benefits and same premiums, which the county accepted.