Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Leitchfield Animal Shelter Director Jessica Williams addresses the Leitchfield City Council Monday night regarding a dispute over a puppy turned over to the Shelter in November, as City Councilmembers Margaret Fey, left, and Margie Decker look on.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Leitchfield Animal Shelter Director Jessica Williams addresses the Leitchfield City Council Monday night regarding a dispute over a puppy turned over to the Shelter in November, as City Councilmembers Margaret Fey, left, and Margie Decker look on.

A dispute over the ownership of a puppy was brought before the Leitchfield City Council Monday night.

Opening the discussion was Leitchfield Animal Shelter Director Jessica Williams, who explained a situation regarding a puppy brought into the shelter by a city resident on Nov. 13 and transported to a rescue in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 21.

Because the animal was under 6 months old, the shelter classified it as a puppy, per Kentucky Revised Statute 258.095 and Leitchfield Ordinance 90.15, and immediately posted it as available for adoption or rescue.

State and city law defines a "dog" as a member of the canine family 6 months of age or older, meaning that a puppy does not fall under the restrictions of laws that designate how long a dog must be impounded in the shelter before it can be adopted or transported elsewhere, according to Williams.

The issue arose because the Decker family claims that the puppy was their property, and they were not notified that the animal was in the shelter's possession; however, Williams said, during the eight-day period in which the puppy was in the possession of the Leitchfield Animal Shelter, a lost animal report was not filed.

Additionally, Williams said the puppy had neither a collar nor a microchip when brought in to the shelter, so its owners could not be identified. A lost report was filed on Nov. 24; however, by this point, the animal had already been transported to the Ohio rescue and become the rescue's property.

Andy Decker said the puppy, a Great Dane and Pyrenees mix, was part of a litter born on July 16 and was given to a family members. The puppy went missing on Nov. 10 after having been let outside to play on Providence Road.

Decker said the puppy was reported lost on Nov. 12, but the shelter did not file the report. His family noticed the puppy had been transported out of state after seeing a photo on Facebook and proceeded to contact the Ohio rescue, as well as the Leitchfield Animal Shelter to request the dog be returned.

Williams said the individuals who turned the puppy over to the shelter said it was an owner-surrender and that, because of the animal's age, the puppy became the Leitchfield Animal Shelter's property after one day, so shelter employees immediately set about seeking transport elsewhere.

Leitchfield Mayor William Thomason said that the shelter needed to have the dog returned to the Decker family and that shelter employees should wait 10 days before transporting animals. City Councilmember and Leitchfield Mayor-Elect Rick Embry also said the shelter should attempt to have the dog returned to the Deckers.

Per City Ordinance 90.19, any dog, cat, or other animal species found running at large may be impounded by the city in an animal shelter and confined therein, and, in the case of licensed animals whose owners can be readily identified, notice is given to the owner. The ordinance states that impounded animals will be retained at the shelter for "a reasonable time not exceeding 10 days."

Williams said the puppy had to be transported elsewhere to ensure there was room for additional animals to be housed in the Leitchfield Animal Shelter, and, because the dog is now the property of the Ohio rescue, the rescue could refuse to return it. She also said she worries the rescue will no longer work with the Leitchfield Animal Shelter because of the issue.

Leitchfield Animal Control Officer Aubrey Alvey said he was concerned that, by making an exception in its policies for the Decker family, it will set a precedent that could lead to the overpopulation at the Leitchfield Animal Shelter and endanger animals in need of rescue by forcing the shelter to house all animals it receives for the maximum 10 days.

Despite this, the City Council asked the shelter employees to attempt to have the animal returned to the Decker family. This decision led Leitchfield Animal Shelter volunteer and Twin Lakes Humane Society board member Bambi Snyder to resign her position on the board and to say she will no longer volunteer for the shelter.

In a Facebook video, Snyder said she cannot continue to give her time and energy to a city that does not wish to abide by the laws it set forth.

Andy Decker said that, after the issue is resolved, he will have all of his family's dogs microchipped.

In an update on Saturday morning, Williams said that Leitchfield's City Attorney and the attorney for the Ohio rescue had, as of Thursday, determined that the puppy should not be returned, and that it would be heading to a new home this weekend. 

In other business, the City Council:

*Voted to name Captain Brandon Cook the new assistant chief of the Leitchfield Police Department per the recommendation of Chief Bryan Langdon.

*Voted to close Flower Lane, a narrow, dead-end street, per the request of Warren RECC. The closure is not expected to restrict any access. Warren RECC intends to widen the roadway and maintain it for its own use.

*Heard a report from Public Works Director Sheila Puckett that, so far, her department has picked up over 260 tons of brush and estimates there is at least that much more remaining. She asked citizens to be patient with Public Works while the department works to pick up the remaining brush.

*Voted to add proclamations recognizing former Grayson County Tourism Director Anya Turpin and proclaiming November as Home Care and Hospice Month into its meeting minutes.