RUSSELLVILLE — Tracey Moser remembers breaking down after visiting the Logan County Humane Society several months ago.
It was after she saw claw marks on the concrete floor, made by a dog trying to get out of its kennel. The place had previously been overcrowded and in poor shape with a rodent infestation, animals standing in their own feces, big dogs in small kennels, dead animals, sickness and aggression.
“There were 225 dogs the first day I came out and they were tied everywhere. They were in the dirt, filthy and having puppies,” said Moser, now the director of the Humane Society. “The previous director said she had 60. I had already spayed 89.”
Now the shelter has 127 animals, 68 of them dogs. There are 33 cats and kittens in foster care. The number of animals at the shelter varies, depending on what size they are. Moser would prefer to keep 40 dogs and about 20 cats.
Former shelter director Kathy Maddox resigned in April and board members were removed following a lengthy investigation by the Daily News.
Lorri Hare, executive director of Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society, was among those leading the charge for change. Hare and members of her staff worked to get the facility in better shape. They evaluated and made sure proper veterinary care was provided to animals that could be healthy again. Some animals had to be euthanized. Staff from Warren County still volunteer at the shelter.
In the wake of the shakeup, Moser hopes to show Logan County Fiscal Court that the organization has changed.
“The county said they would help us. They are leery because they don’t want to put money into something that would not be taken care of,” she said. “They see the changes. We put lipstick on the pig.”
The shelter appeared cleaner during a visit this week by the Daily News. The animals were in appropriate kennels for their size and were clean and healthy looking. Staff had the dogs out for walks so they could get exercise, rotating them so that all had a chance to be out of their kennels for a while. Quarantined dogs were kept away from the rest. The dogs and cats came to the front of their kennels, sticking out paws and licking fingers as a visitor stopped to talk to each of them. While some of the dogs barked when unknown people came in, none was aggressive.
Logan County Judge-Executive Logan Chick said from what he has seen so far, the situation has improved.
“They’ve done some cleaning. It looked to me like it’s running real good,” he said. “They got animals placed. It’s a pleasing place for people to come visit.
“They were dealing with overcrowdedness and overcrowdedness caused it not to be cleaned well,” he said. “It wasn’t a desirable place to take your family.”
There is still work to be done. Moser wants to build a new shelter, but there isn’t enough space on the current property, which is sometimes littered with trash from the adjacent county recycling center.
“The other day I found four rotten duck eggs in the fence. I’ve also found hypodermic needles,” she said.
The Humane Society is working against time as the weather begins to cool.
“We’re especially worried because the Farmers Almanac said this winter would be worse than last year. The shape that the shelter is in is heart-wrenching,” Moser said. “We can’t provide them what they need in this shelter. It’s a race against time to get them adopted. I don’t know what we’re going to do. Last year they just tied them up and let them stay where they were.”
A new shelter makes sense, Moser said.
“Maybe in the spring when puppy and kitten season starts, not only would it be easier to take care of animals, but also cost efficient,” she said. “A new shelter would be more inviting for people to come adopt them than this one that’s so creepy.”
Moser is looking at a piece of land she said would be good for a shelter. She has approached Chick about getting the county’s help. About $67,000 would be needed to purchase the property and break ground. A total of $250,000 is needed for the Humane Society’s part in building the shelter. So far, the shelter has $170,000 from a private donation and $13,000 from fundraisers and other donations. She hopes the county supplies another $250,000.
“We guesstimate that it will cost $500,000. That would bring it up to code and make Kentucky law happy,” she said. “Our building will be identical to (the Hildreth) adoption center” in Bowling Green.
In fact, the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society is like “a big sister shelter,” Moser said.
“We are partners with them. They help us with medication, staffing, moving animals, bedding and spay/neuter,” she said. “Anytime we come across a situation that requires wisdom, I can call Lorri. She’s helping me with building plans.”
Shelters from across the region came to help with Logan County’s situation, Moser said.
“Shelters came from all over the place to help us when I put the plea out. They took animals with them to help us get this place cleaned up,” she said. “It’s like a goal that all shelters are like family. We want to fix Kentucky’s overcrowding situation. When you put a bunch of us together, good things happen.”
The Humane Society is looking for grants and donations toward the new shelter, Chick said.
“Y’all raise what you can and I feel like the court will do what it needs to do. I don’t think it will be something that will happen overnight because they’re raising money for the shelter,” he said. “I think they’ve had some pretty good commitments and promises.”
Moser has future plans for the Humane Society, but she is focusing on an adoption center.
“We haven’t put out bids yet,” she said.
For now, Moser has to make do with what she has. While she has received more than $97,000 from the city and county, much of it goes to payroll, the electric bill and euthanasia.
“It’s like we’re starting all over again,” she said.
Moser is giving herself a budget of $250,000.
“I have to give myself a list of what we do,” she said. “While we’re nonprofit, it still has to be run like a business. My budget is a forecast of what we bring in each year.”
Moser wants to do everything she can to help the shelter.
“I come six or seven days a week,” she said. “It’s that important to me.”
— For more information, find the shelter on Facebook: www.facebook.com/LoganCountyHumaneSociety.