Jail all the dogs!

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By Stephen Lega

With deepest apologies to Johnathan Swift, I have a modest proposal for the Marion County Animal Shelter and the Marion County Detention Center.
Let's put some dogs in jail.
Before you doubt my sincerity (which some of you might if you read my boss's column in last week's Enterprise accusing me - ME - of being sarcastic), hear me out.
The Marion County Animal Shelter is overrun with dogs, and it's not something they can control.
In November, the Central Kentucky News-Journal in Campbellsville reported on a letter it received from an inmate accusing the Taylor County Animal Shelter of burying dogs that were still alive. The Taylor County judge/executive and the Taylor County Animal Shelter director have both denied the accusations.
Nevertheless, it would appear that some Taylor Countians have refused to take their animals to their shelter. Instead, the Marion-Taylor County line has become a dumping ground for unwanted animals. The Taylor County Animal Shelter is open, and hopefully, people who live in Taylor County will begin taking their dogs there again.
For now, Marion County has to deal with an excess dog population. In December, the Marion County Animal Shelter reported having 70 dogs at one time, and this past Monday, the shelter was up to 82 dogs.
I can't ever remember seeing as many dogs at the shelter as I did on Saturday morning. I've been to the shelter numerous times in the past six years for a variety of reasons, but I've never seen it like that. Many individual kennels were doubled or tripled up. Even the large fenced-in areas meant to house multiple dogs seemed to have more than usual.
When Marion County has more animals than can be adopted, it's inevitable that some of them will have to be euthanized. Every animal control official I've spoken to since I moved to Lebanon has mentioned how depressing that part of the job is.
The shelter staff is doing the best it can to deal with the situation, but with limited space, they don't have any other option, especially as more animals continue to come into the shelter.
Meanwhile, the Marion County Detention Center has the exact opposite problem. Too many empty cells means declining revenue. Local taxpayers don't realize how fortunate we have been to have a jail that was self-sustaining for several years thanks to the revenue it generated from housing inmates and prisoners for neighboring counties and the state.
The state has released several prisoners early as a cost-savings measure. As a result the Marion County Detention Center has empty cells, which also means declining revenue. This fiscal year was the first time since I've lived in Marion County that Jailer Barry Brady has had to turn to the fiscal court for assistance.
Brady has tried to find ways to keep the jail as full as he can. He has contracts with federal agencies and the military. Last week, he received approval from the state to designate more beds for substance abuse programs, and Brady seems confident that those beds will stay full once the programs are fully implemented.
For now, however, the daily count at the jail is still lower than Brady would like.
This is where my modest proposal comes in.
The next time the animal control officials receive a report of stray dogs roaming near the county line, maybe they could just take them to the jail instead. Then, Brady could bill Taylor County for housing the dogs.
Of course, Taylor County officials would probably want proof that the dogs came from their county before they paid the bills.
Oh, well, it was just a thought.
On a completely unrelated matter, does anyone know how I can get my tongue unstuck from my cheek?