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Animal shelter task force researching costs, future

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

A task force continues to debate the future of animal control and shelter in the city and county as the deadline to make a recommendation looms.

The Paducah-McCracken County animal shelter task force met Monday afternoon. The group debated two primary options, presented by different subcommittees evaluating the idea of partnering with the McCracken County Humane Society or building a new shelter.

Diana Cruikshank presented a document that outlined the needs associated with building a new shelter. The proposal was based on an evaluation of shelters in the state with similar needs and included 96 canine kennels, a large common room for the cats along with two smaller rooms for sick felines, surgery, treatment, and grooming rooms in the veterinary area, an in-take space, an office for the director and employees, public reception area, outside play area, along with restrooms, storage and laundry facilities.

The projected cost for a 11,000-square foot complex would be $150 to $180 per square-foot totaling between $1.6 million and $1.9 million. The shelter would be run by an independent board that would oversee daily operations, personnel decisions and fundraising. The low-kill non-profit projected shelter would be paid for by the county and leased to the board, she said.

Cruikshank also updated the group about the immediate needs addressed during the March 17 meeting. She said the items that remain are about 15 additional outside kennels needed and repairs to the electricity, which are set to happen in the next several weeks. MP Lawson Construction in Paducah offered to donate the labor to pour a concrete base for another area for kennels, but the timeline depends on the company's upcoming schedule, she said. Deputy Judge-Executive Doug Harnice said a new computer for the office has been ordered by the county.

Lee King said the other subcommittee has continued discussions about a potential partnership with the county Humane Society based on a sized down proposal of a model in Lexington. She said the partnership would include animal shelter and control operations and an 11,000-square feet complex constructed by the Humane Society, which would house about 170 animals, built around a long-term agreement.

The group asked for additional time to continue the process with the Humane Society board, which meets Thursday night. No action was taken at the meeting, but King said the group recommends the Humane Society as an viable outside resource until additional details can be finalized. The positives mentioned included a standardization of control and shelter polices and an annual cost in the contract that wouldn't fluctuate.

Several task force members expressed frustration with the lack of detailed information specifically about the cost and kill policy for the potential joint shelter.

City Manager Jeff Pederson said there are too many factors still in flux, but if the process moves on the city and county could set the general guidelines in any outsourced contract.

The board will meet again at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 at the road department building on Coleman Road. The three-week gap between meetings will help to ensure both groups obtain additional information on expenses and potential policies and procedures, according to chairman Dr. Tim Davis.

He said the group could vote during that meeting or during a subsequent meeting depending on whether a motion is made to approve a recommendation. The board is still working to meet the May 4 deadline. The task force recommendation would then be presented to the McCracken Fiscal Court for a final decision.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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