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Shelter task force elects leaders, begins review

BY CORIANNE EGANcegan@paducahsun.com

The 12 members of Paducah and McCracken County's new Animal Shelter Task Force met for the first time Thursday, taking time to hammer out where the board would like to direct future discussion.

The task force will focus on the future of the McCracken County Animal Shelter. The shelter, which has more than 100 dogs and 13 cats, has had issues with cleanliness, and the building itself is not suitable for an animal shelter. The task force will examine three options: making upgrades to the current building, partnering with another agency or building a new shelter.

"We have to be fiscally responsible," Mayor Gayle Kaler said, "but we also have to have the best quality animal shelter we can. There are ways to do that and spend less money."

Kaler and Judge-Executive Van Newberry opened the meeting by reading the task force its charge, then took their seats and allowed the board to elect officers and begin proceedings. New board chairman Dr. Tim Davis asked the panel to think about assigning subcommittees, and members agreed to visit the county's shelter before the next meeting. The board also agreed to keep discussions limited to low-kill options.

"In an ideal world, every shelter would be no-kill," said Dr. Danny Everett, a veterinarian who works with the shelter. "But that's not reality. I hate making that decision as much as anyone else in this room does, so we should strive for low-kill."

The task force asked Newberry and Kaler to reach out to adjacent counties who don't have animal shelter options - such as Ballard and Carlisle - to see if they would be interested in being part of a new or improved shelter.

The board has until May 1 to give the city and county a recommendation on the shelter's future. Thursday's meeting was filled with introductions, but Davis scheduled the next meeting for Monday.

"This is a daunting task," Davis said. "There's an awful lot of information to go over and request in a very little time."

The task force was created Feb. 25 when Kaler and Newberry each appointed six members. The panel includes people who have served on previous animal shelter boards; volunteers and residents who foster animals; county and city officials; doctors; veterinarians; and people in the business community.

Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.

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