Too many animals, not enough shelter

Friday, July 7, 2006
The city animal shelter is never empty. Above, some of the animals waiting for adoption and a chance at a new life.

Currently, Marshall County and the City of Lewisburg share an animal control facility, which is located on Woodside Avenue in Lewisburg.

The City of Lewisburg owns the animal shelter, but allows the county's animal control officer to house the animals that are captured outside of the city limits at the city's shelter until the animals can be adopted or euthanized.

Unfortunately, the shelter is only required to house the animals for a minimum of one week. Animals are not usually kept any longer unless it is warranted by special circumstances, such as a pending court case.

According to the shelter's records, from January to May 2006, the animal shelter has already eliminated 336 animals, most of which were dogs.

Jason Davis, the cities animal control officer, said that those numbers are low compared to previous years.

"We take in about twenty to twenty five per week now, but when we were able to take cats we would take in about twenty-five to thirty per week," he said.

The City of Lewisburg has created a 'no cat' policy, which it has been implementing over the past few months. Lewisburg City Manager Eddie Fuller explained that the reason the city has adopted the 'no cat' policy is because they do not have any city approved ordinances, which will allow them to legally house cats.

"We have dog ordinances in place, but if a cat has become a nuisance, threat or hazard, then the animal shelter is allowed to pick them up out of concern for public safety," he said.

Fuller acknowledged that the majority of the animals come from the county instead of the city. He is concerned that by adopting a stringent cat policy, then the county would be greatly affected.

"It's not a big problem for us. For the numbers that the county is handling it could become an issue for their officer," said Fuller.

The county is currently operating on a minimum budget for animal control because not only do they share facilities with the city, but they only have one officer. The city only has one officer as well, but the city's area of coverage is significantly smaller.

Kim Intino, Director of Animal Sheltering Issues for the United States Humane Society, said that the county and city would greatly benefit by separating.

"Shelters are very unique structures and adequate space is needed for the area that the shelter is serving," she said.

Intino advised that the county could utilize Federal Block Grants. Animal shelters can be listed as a major community improvement project in order to obtain funding.

"It is much easier to get money to build. It becomes a struggle to obtain money for operating funds," she said.

She suggested that one way to curb operating expenses would be to form a non-profit organization to utilize certain programs in the area or citizens who would be interested in donating.

By separating city operations from county operations, building separate facilities and trying to obtain all of the possible grants and donations, Intino said that both the county and city should have the options to better serve the public by being able to capture different kinds of domesticated animals and by being able to keep the animals longer, giving them more time to complete successful adoptions.

"I would be happy to speak with the county, city or any group of individuals interested in bringing a new humane animal shelter to the area," said Intino.

For more information visit or email Intino at