Through the thick of COVID isolation, many families looked to animals for joy in a time when there wasn’t much enough to go around. Unfortunately, post-pandemic, those same loving animals are being turned into Kentucky shelters every day, by the dozens. Many shelters are having to post urgent euthanasia lists to Facebook to get these animals into foster or forever homes as fast as possible.
Leslie County Animal Shelter, a shelter serving the county’s 10,000 people, is fighting the same battles, having to pause accepting additional animals for weeks until they can get more dogs and cats into homes. Still, they are in a better spot than years ago, thanks to the hard work of many in the county to build expanded, enhanced facilities.
Anna Carey, who helps manage shelter projects in her part-time role with the Leslie County Fiscal Court, explained that about 15 years ago, the shelter was way out in the county and inaccessible to many. They were able to build a new facility on the same road as the detention center, easily accessed from the highway. Initially, they built a small facility and dog runs that had no ceiling.
Knowing the animals deserved more, the current county administration allocated some coal severance funding to improve the facility, adding a roof and heating and cooling. As a result, they have been able to expand the number of dog spaces from 16 to 32, with an additional area built for pregnant dogs and their puppies.
Because the facility was patch-worked together, the buildings are very inefficient. The shelter faced an average power bill of $1,251 each month. Enter Mountain Association’s Energy Team.
Several months ago, we worked with them to do a free assessment of the facility to look at ways to save on these high bills. Since then, the shelter has completed a lighting upgrade to LED that is expected to save $1,450 per year. We also worked with them on programmable thermostats that they can remotely control and set to schedules that make the most sense for energy savings. We are currently working with them to explore solar with battery back-ups and have secured grant funding to the tune of $82,000 for their project with support from General Motors, Solar Finance Fund, and other partners. This will save more than $4,000 per year and add resiliency in the face of power outages.
“It’s the Fiscal Court’s responsibility to be fiscally responsible,” Carey said. “By doing these projects, we are looking out for county’s financial future.”
If you wish to support the shelter, please consider donating to PAWS Leslie County, a nonprofit that fundraises to give adopters spay-neuter vouchers. Because the county does not have a veterinarian, the shelter is unable to mandate spay and neuter, though gracious vets in nearby counties give discounted rates to Leslie County Animal Shelter adopted pets.
Our energy assessments are free thanks to funding from the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy.