Animal shelter hopeful for grant approval

McLean County Animal Control Director Billy Jones holds Miracle, a kitten, at the McLean County Animal Shelter.

The McLean County Animal Shelter is back in business and plans to prosper.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture announced in June that local governments can apply for spay and neuter grants, with awards up to $3,000 through the Kentucky Animal Control Advisory.

McLean County Judge Executive Curtis Dame and McLean County Animal Control director Billy Jones have faith the county will qualify for the grant and alleviate current hurdles.

“Our problem that we run into is that we pick up a lot of strays and before we can let anyone adopt the strays, they need to be spayed or neutered,” Dame said. “[The grant] will help offset the cost in our budget where we can turn around and hopefully spay or neuter more animals.”

The shelter has been fortunate with donations from McLean County Public Schools, Riverside Care & Rehabilitation Center, and the non-profit group Saving Animals in Need Together (SAINT).

The spay and neuter grant would help frequent needs for citizens.

“I got people every day, just about, calling me and asking me...if we have some kind of system here in McLean County where we can have the animals fixed,” Jones said.

Dame and Jones hope the grant is approved so the shelter will be in excellent standing and become self-sufficient.

“It’s very hard to reactivate a shelter that has been dormant for awhile,” Dame said. “We’re trying to get ourselves up to speed and to be current.”

Jones stepped into his role in August 2020 and opened the shelter in January. While Jones was hired for animal control, he was keen on doing more.

“We are very blessed to have [Jones] because his heart’s in the right place,” Dame said. “[He] cares about animals and works very hard. He’s a one man army.”

“It’s very very busy,” Jones said. “I’m pretty much on call 24/7.”

Dame and Jones observe the county sees a ‘reproductive explosion’ in felines — when someone has a cat and cannot get it fixed due to cost.

“I believe that’s the biggest issue we [have] at the moment,” Jones said. “A lot of people got laid off [...] with COVID and everything. It’s rough getting back on track again.”

Dame states the grant would reduce the price for spay and neuter procedures for low-income citizens needing assistance.

The McLean County Judge Executive office submitted the application for the grant earlier this month and are currently working on estimated voucher costs.

While Dame and Jones are hopeful for approval, the program’s potential success is dependent on people taking advantage of the opportunity.

“We do all these programs, we get them all set up for people to apply for them,” Dame said. “That’s the one challenge that I think that we will face is getting people to come in and fill out the paperwork.”

If approved, Dame and Jones believe the grant would head the problem off before it begins.

“It will keep the population from growing,” Jones said.

“The goal of the whole program is to prevent that cycle,” Dame said. “That way, we have happy experiences with pets.”

Freddie Bourne, fbourne@mcleannews.com

Freddie Bourne, fbourne@mcleannews.com

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