By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer
COVINGTON - The Kenton County Animal Shelter plans to use the largest single donation in its 18-year history to help build a new adoption center.
Last year, a retired school janitor who lived with his Labrador retriever left the shelter $200,000. The gift inspired shelter officials to build the $1 million Uli Penn Adoption Center in memory of the 79-year-old Erlanger resident.
A larger adoption center will enable the shelter to extend its adoption hours to evenings and weekends and provide an area for activities such as obedience classes, and reduce the number of adoptable animals euthanized, said shelter director Aline Summe.
Of the 4,986 dogs and cats turned over to the shelter last year, 3,543, or 71 percent, were euthanized.
Nationwide, about 60 percent of the animals sent to shelters each year are euthanized, said Darlene Larson of the National Council on Pet Population and Study. However, that statistic includes no-kill shelters. The Kenton County Animal Shelter and the other major shelters serving Tristate counties must accept all unwanted animals that are brought in.
"When you volunteer, you see what little space the shelter has,'' said Covington resident Annette Klein, the shelter's volunteer coordinator and one of about 10 people who serve as temporary foster parents for litters of kittens or puppies, as well as adult dogs deemed adoptable.
"You see how important it is to have an adoption center so that they don't have to euthanize so many beautiful dogs and cats.''
Using Penn's gift as seed money, shelter supporters plan to kick off fund-raising for the new adoption center with a dog wash this Saturday.
For the next two years, shelter supporters plan to raise money for the new adoption center through such monthly community events.
They also plan to raise money through a direct-mail campaign, grants, corporate sponsors and the sale of naming rights for dog runs and other parts of the new facility.
"It would be nice if we could open the new adoption center by October 2005, when we celebrate our 20th anniversary,'' Summe said.
The shelter has 37 kennels, but those are used for both adoptable and other strays, as well as for animals being held for court cases.
With the 4,570-square-foot addition, the shelter could keep the adoptable animals in a separate holding area, Summe said. Volunteers currently are limited to working with adoptable animals because of liability and comfort reasons. With a larger adoption center, shelter officials could recruit more volunteers and make adoption center hours more convenient.
"I think we have the people who'd like to help with the adoptions, but right now we don't have the room, and we can't split up the functions," Summe said.
The new addition also would add 30 runs, Summe said. With the extra space, the shelter could keep adoptable dogs and cats - those with a good temperament and in good health - longer.
Kentucky law requires that dogs be held at least five days, so once new strays come in, the others must be adopted or euthanized.
When temperaments permit, dogs are sharing runs and cats are housed at least two to a cage. Also, in April, two more animal control officers began picking up dogs and cats on a full-time basis and another full-time animal control officer will be added July 1 when the Kenton County Police take over animal control operations for the Kenton County cities and unincorporated areas outside of Covington.
"With the human population increasing and more animal control officers coming on board, those numbers (of animals brought to the shelter) should only grow in the future,'' Summe said.
The shelter's new addition would have a dog adoption office with three dog-viewing areas on each side, a cat adoption room with up to seven cages for viewing and interaction with cats, a counter and display areas for sale items and educational materials, storage space and utility areas, a grooming room and dog and cat adoption offices.
Dog wash to help build center
Benefit dog wash is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Kenton County Animal Shelter, 1020 Mary Laidley Drive, across from Pioneer Park. Cost is $6 to $10, depending on the dog's size. Nail trim is extra.
Yard sale is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 22 at Pioneer Park, Ky. 17 (3L Highway).
Yard sale donations: Small items can be dropped off at the shelter. Call (859) 356-7400 for pickup service for larger items. To donate to the adoption center, mail contributions to Kenton County Animal Shelter, Attn: building fund, 1020 Mary Laidley Dr., Fort Mitchell, KY 41017.
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