Kentucky’s county animal shelter conditions have not been studied for over 20 years. Major goals of this study were to assess current conditions in Kentucky’s county shelters and determine the degree of compliance with Kentucky shelter laws. Additional information was gathered to determine the major problems and needs identified by shelter personnel and researchers. Data was used to determine if additional state funds or refinements and additions to current laws are warranted to ensure humane care of animals in Kentucky’s county shelters. Researchers consisted of a group of 6 veterinary students who traveled to all Kentucky county animal shelters. Ninety two county shelters were identified that service Kentucky’s 120 counties. Several regional shelters service multiple counties. Results showed that only 12% of counties were in compliance with all parts of Kentucky’s animal shelter laws, while over 50% of counties were in violation of 3 or more parts of the laws. Major problems identified by shelter personnel were lack of sufficient funding, pet overpopulation leading to crowding of shelters, insufficient work force at the shelters, and lack of education for both shelter personnel and the public. In addition to these problems, researchers also identified a number of other problems in many shelters, including inadequate, aging and poorly maintained facilities built with inappropriate materials that could not be properly cleaned or disinfected; poor ventilation, especially in cat holding areas; lack of appropriate veterinary care; and lack of appropriate quarantine areas. Overall conclusions are that the majority of Kentucky’s animal shelters are not in compliance with current animal shelter laws, and that a major factor contributing to poor compliance was lack of sufficient funding for animal shelter programs. There appears to be a significant need for additional state funds to improve county shelter programs. Current laws do not appear to be fully satisfactory at accomplishing the goal of providing good shelter animal care across Kentucky. Additions and refinements to current laws, including enforcement provisions, appear to be warranted. While great strides have been made in Kentucky’s animal shelters since the last study was performed 20 years ago, much work still needs to be done to bring Kentucky’s animal shelters up to modern standards of care.

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Notes/Citation Information

Veterinary Student Researchers: Rachel Cullman-Clark, Liane Lachiewicz, Matt Lamarre, Brad Rohleder, Kristin Sadler, Rachel Sparling. Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine, Harrogate, Tennessee.

Faculty Advisors:Dr. Cynthia Gaskill and Dr. Craig Carter, University of Kentucky Department of Veterinary Science, Lexington, Kentucky.

Funding Information

Funding for the study was provided by the University of Kentucky, Lincoln Memorial University, Morehead State University, and private donors.