Miscommunication and hurt feelings have led the longtime volunteers of the Grayson County Humane Society to announce their intention to vacate the Leitchfield animal shelter.
Earlier this year, a group of individuals from Grayson and surrounding counties addressed the Grayson County Fiscal Court to express their concerns regarding the Fiscal Court’s contract with an animal shelter in Edmonson County to take stray animals from Grayson County (animals not located within the City of Leitchfield).
This group, which came to be known as the Twin Lakes Humane Society, requested the Fiscal Court’s support to open a local shelter to house stray animals from outside the city limits of Leitchfield; however, no action was taken by the Fiscal Court on this matter.
Since that time, the Edmonson County animal shelter has closed following the director’s being cited and charged with animal cruelty by the Kentucky State Police, and the Fiscal Court, last Friday, June 17, announced it had signed a six-month contract with Daviess County to take Grayson County’s stray dogs.
Prior to this, however, the former Twin Lakes Humane Society President, Joey McClung, issued a press release to the Grayson County News-Gazette in which he detailed the Twin Lakes Humane Society’s plans to make a new Grayson County animal shelter.
In the article, McClung is quoted as saying, “With the help of the County and City governments and input from the existing City shelter staff at the current facility, we can make this new shelter one of the best in the state. We have already reached out to members of both City and County governments and feel 100 percent certain we can make this dream a reality.”
The article states that the Twin Lakes Humane Society’s hope was “to take what is currently available in the city and expand it into a full facility that will employ four, full-time workers,” with Sept. 1 set as a tentative opening date to have the new facility operational.
The Grayson County Humane Society (GCHS) volunteers posted their announcement on the Grayson County Humane Society/SPCA Facebook page on Saturday, June 18 of their intentions to vacate the Leitchfield animal shelter, following the publication of the aforementioned article, as well as comments from the community that led them to believe the Twin Lakes Humane Society intended to “assume control” of the Leitchfield animal shelter and that this was a “done deal.”
The GCHS volunteers—whom have spend the past 13 years raising money to support, care for, transport, and re-home “tens of thousands of dogs and cats” with no public funding—said in their announcement that they will vacate the Leitchfield shelter after the last of the animals housed there have been “safely placed” elsewhere.
Following the GCHS volunteers’ announcement, the Twin Lakes Humane Society attended this past Monday, June 20 Leitchfield City Council meeting to present a proposal for the city’s consideration to operate the existing animal shelter starting in the coming fiscal year.
Read by Twin Lakes Humane Society member April Bowman, the proposal states that the group has a goal of being a “debt free and self-sustained animal shelter.”
The prepared statement and proposal thanks the GCHS volunteers “who have spent the last 13 years doing a wonderful job contributing toward the success of the shelter and the adoption of countless animals.”
The proposed contract includes an annual $50,000 budget, through which the City of Leitchfield would provide facility repairs and maintenance, including upkeep of the existing buildings, as well as a part-time animal control officer to work Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Any after-hour and/or weekend calls would be taken by a member of the Twin Lakes Humane Society.
The proposal also includes a full-time (40 hours per week) employee who will serve as director of the shelter. This employee would be paid a salary from the City of Leitchfield of $30,000 per year. The proposal also includes two part-time equivalents who will work with a pay scale set at minimum wage.
The proposal states that the Twin Lakes Humane Society will hold fundraisers on a continuous bases in order to raise the necessary money to provide proper care to the animals they house until they can be adopted and/or transported to other facilities for the same reason.
The long-term vision of the Twin Lakes Humane Society 501c3 is to be 100 percent self-sustainable within 36 months.
Following the presentation of the proposal, supporters of the GCHS, as well as board members from the Twin Lakes Humane Society, exchanged, at times heated words for nearly an hour.
Supporters of the GCHS argued that the GCHS volunteers were being treated in a disrespectful manner and not receiving the appropriate recognition for their service.
Twin Lakes Humane Society board members sought to clarify their intentions. Bowman said she has personally “spent hours trying to bring these groups together” and has apologized profusely for the miscommunication.
Additionally, new Twin Lakes Humane Society President Ray Heavrin said, during the City Council meeting, that the other Twin Lakes Humane Society Board members did not authorize McClung to issue the press release used by the Grayson County News-Gazette and that the announcement of the group’s intentions was “premature.”
The City Council took no action on the Twin Lakes Humane Society’s proposal, but numerous city officials stated that no one from the city nor the Twin Lakes Humane Society had ever said the proposal was a “done deal.”
Leitchfield City Councilmember Kelly Stevenson said he does not understand why, starting now, the Grayson County Humane Society and the Twin Lakes Humane Society, both of which obviously are passionate about the care of animals, could not turn over a new leaf and work together.
GCHS Board Member Bettye Lane, the only current volunteer in attendance at Monday’s meeting, responded that there was too much water under the bridge and too many negative things said, and she did not feel that she could continue her volunteer service.
Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason said that, if the Grayson County Humane Society volunteers wish to step down, they must provide the city formal notice.
In other business:
*The City Council approved dropping the speed limit on Brandenburg Road from 45 mph to 35 mph past Sunset Drive.
*The City Council approved a rezoning request from Lauren D. Allen to change Johnson Way, Lot 10 from an R-2 (Single-Family) to an R-5 (Multi-Family), as well as the first reading of an ordinance making the change.
*The City Council voted to purchase plates to identify posts placed in James D. Beville City Park by Bobby Burden, of the Eagle Scouts. The posts identify various forms of vegetation throughout the park.
Reach Matt Lasley at 270-259-9622, ext. 2015.