PAWS & Humane Society of Edmonson County Working Together To Bring Animal Shelter To County
Darren Doyle, story:
Two local humane societies are finally coming together in a more focused effort to bring a self-sustained animal shelter in Edmonson County.
PAWS, a local group formed in June of 2016, announced in a press release that both their group and the Humane Society of Edmonson County have met multiple times and have agreed that working together is now their focus.
Many county residents have been confused as to why Edmonson County needs two separate humane societies, and the question has never been answered. Shortly after group members from PAWS attended a fiscal court meeting on June 13, 2016, which was the same day Edmonson County Fiscal Court dissolved its animal shelter contract with Greg and Kim Carroll after the Carroll's shelter was shut down by KSP in an animal cruelty case, Katie Smith announced the formation of the Humane Society of Edmonson County.
In the early stages, each group seemingly worked against the other and the fiscal court in the effort to bring a new shelter to the county. Katie Smith and her husband Ken, were both plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Edmonson County Fiscal Court in a case going back to 2013 regarding the former shelter. The court granted an agreed order of dismissal on May 15, 2017. PAWS had some personnel issues with their own board members not being on the same page, which raised more questions and confusion.
With both organizations doing separate fundraising events and the county government not sure of either's intentions, progress was slow as many saw each group doing more to undermine the other rather than for the intended purpose; however, according to both organizations, each group will help the other in a local effort for the betterment of animals.
"The Humane Society of Edmonson County and Edmonson County PAWS Humane Society Inc. have had two dual organization meetings recently," said Mike Stoyonovich, in an emailed statement. He is the newly elected PAWS President. "We both are 501©3 non-profit organizations that mutually contacted each other and found common ground through very transparent dialogue. PAWS has recently restructured its board of directors through election of new officers. I do not speak for the Humane Society of Edmonson County, (HSEC), (Katie Smith), but I can speak to our mutual goal of ensuring the best possible quality of life for all animals of Edmonson County and to build and maintain a quality animal shelter in Edmonson County," he said.
Katie Smith said much of the same.
"The Humane Society of Edmonson County reached out to PAWS about two months ago," she said in an email to the Edmonson Voice. "We were excited to have a positive response and have a meeting of our board of directors set. It seemed that PAWS had undergone or was still undergoing some major restructuring and looking toward the future."
Judge Wil Cannon said this was definitely a step in the right direction for the county.
"It looks very hopeful that they'll be working together and that's a good thing," he said. "It's very confusing to our residents having two separate groups here. You had people donating to one group that they thought was to the other, and so forth. I don't think it's government's place to say which group is good or bad or what, but as long as they're working together in the right way to help with our animal shelter efforts, I'll have to say that's a positive."
Cannon said his goal is for Edmonson County to build a shelter on county property and then contract its operation with a local humane society.
"When Bowling Green/Warren County Animal Shelter said they'd house our animals, it was only temporary," Cannon said. "They hoped that we'd be able to take care of our own in about a five year period. I'd like to see this happen within the next four years. Of course that will have to be voted on and approved by the fiscal court, but I think when the county can get some bills paid down, like our emergency radio system, we can all work together to see this happen."
Cannon said the county currently pays around $2000 per month on the county's new emergency radio system.
Mrs. Smith said both groups are working together to apply for a grant that would bring in someone to do a needs assessment for a county shelter and would supply an architect.
"By doing little things like that, give each other leads, tips, advice, splitting research, we can accomplish much more in a shorter time," she said. "The Humane Society of Edmonson County is looking forward to expanding on the budding partnership that we have with Edmonson County PAWS Humane Society. They have some great minds and people who certainly love animals as much as we do, working hard for our shared goal."
In a released statement, PAWS said, "We know this is going to be a multi-year process, but we feel with the combined efforts of both groups, it is a very attainable goal for the future. We hope that this is a very positive first step for our community, and will further benefit the animal welfare of Edmonson County."
Stoyonovich also said that in his opinion, the Humane Society of Edmonson County had worked hard in developing a successful spay and neuter program that has resulted in many benefits.
"They have also structured a program that has many contacts for cat adoption and rescue. HSEC needs to be commended," he added.
PAWS listed the board of directors as:
Judge Cannon said that it's a great step in the right direction.
"If everybody will work together with all the focus on what's needed in Edmonson County, I really feel like we'll have a chance to eventually have one of the best animal shelters around."
You can visit the Humane Society of Edmonson County's website by clicking here.
Click here to visit the Edmonson County PAWS site.