There’s a great energy at Leitchfield Animal Shelter in Grayson County, Kentucky, known for the Twin Lakes in the area. After spending a morning with her, I think that contagious energy has a lot to do with the new director, Christina.
Christina has worked at the shelter for five years, as an ACO, a kennel tech, the assistant director, and as of a month and a half ago, the director. She’s had a lot of time to watch her predecessors do it their way, and now she is doing it hers.
Her way includes freshening up the spaces with bright paints and welcoming touches. She wants the shelter to be a place people want to come—to adopt an animal, to volunteer, to help them change the story here.
Technically a municipal open-intake shelter, they work very hard to save all the animals, euthanizing only as a last resort. The shelter is blessed with the Twin Lakes Humane Society whose volunteers not only help at the shelter (some like Bambi, are there so often most people think she works there), but raise funds to pay for medical needs, spay/neuter, and any supplies the shelter cannot afford with its budget.
Christina is determined that everything at the shelter be transparent – she believes that when people know what is happening, they will step up and help. She knows that education and transparency are the keys to making the community see the shelter, and its animals, as theirs.
Her bright smile and tremendous enthusiasm for the animals, the volunteers, the staff, and the future of the shelter are contagious. When I asked how the shelter was doing, she said, “Well, it hasn’t always been good, but we’re on an upswing.”
She’s another shelter worker who has seen the worst of people but still believes in the best of them.
In 2022, Leitchfield Animal Shelter handled about 700 dogs. With just 22 kennels, that means that most dogs have kennelmates.
Christina is very grateful for amazing foster homes she can depend on to help, including Allison, a previous employee who volunteers, fosters, and does pretty much anything. Christina depends on her knowledge and skills. She also talked about Sarah Jo, gushing that she’ll take the really tough situations to foster – actually prefers them.
The little shelter was busy, bustling with volunteers, staff, and community members. The shelter serves the county of Grayson and the city of Leitchfield.
There are three large play yards. Nancy spent some time in the yards doing a photoshoot with five dogs, including a blind hound dog.
The community is engaged with this shelter and that engagement is likely only to grow with Christina in charge. She is ready to stand up for her animals and invite people to come and see what they are doing. Last year the budget for food was $200 for the year. That is changing Christina told us, but along with an increase in the budget line item, she also reached out to a local feed mill to ask if they would work with the shelter so they could buy their dog food locally. Christina also got the local Walmart to donate their broken bags. Much of what Christina finds herself doing is rebuilding bridges. The shelter hasn’t always been a positive and transparent place, so she knows that a big part of her new job is mending relationships and turning the page for this little shelter.
She’s also established relationships with veterinarians in the area and negotiated discounted rates for the shelter. The staff holds firm on the requirement that everything adopted be spayed or neutered. If they aren’t already altered by adoption day, adopters sign a contract to bring the animals back for their surgery. And if they don’t, the staff is willing to reclaim those animals, even if it means tracking them down out of state.
Christina would love to someday build a surgery at the shelter so that vets could come to the shelter to do their vet work. She knows that veterinary care is critical to the success of the shelter.
She’d also really like to add a ventilation system to the puppy room which is currently a space in the back of the older shelter building lined with corrugated metal and no windows. She props doors open to allow airflow and tries to get the puppies outside every day, putting the ones who are not yet fully vaccinated in individual large crates outside so they can get some fresh air, too.
With an engaged community, reasonable access to veterinary care, and the leadership qualities that Chrsitina is bringing to her new job, I have no doubt that Leitchfield Animal Shelter’s best days are ahead of them.
If you’d like to support the shelter, consider shopping their Amazon wishlist.
You can also donate to Twin Lakes Humane Society to support the shelter financially through paypal at Adopttlhs@gmail.com.
Until each one has a home,
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Learn more about what is happening in our southern shelters and rescues in the book, One Hundred Dogs & Counting: One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles, and a Journey Into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues (Pegasus Books, 2020). It’s the story of a challenging foster dog who inspired me to travel south to find out where all the dogs were coming from. It tells the story of how Who Will Let the Dogs Out began. Find it anywhere books are sold. A portion of the proceeds of every book sold go to help unwanted animals in the south.
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