Judge Executive Looks To Dissolve Animal Shelter Contract At Next Fiscal Court, "We Have To Get This Thing Right"
Darren Doyle, story and photo
Judge Executive Wil Cannon said today that he will present a plan to dissolve the county's contract with the Edmonson County Animal Shelter, owned by Greg and Kim Carroll, in the wake of the indefinite closing of the shelter. Director Kim Carroll was charged with second degree cruelty to animals on Friday evening and all the animals at the facility were relocated to other shelters.
"When you start to see a pattern, and I've seen it now for a year, where conditions should be getting better but they're not, then there's a problem that has to be fixed," said Cannon.
Cannon also explained how the contract between Carroll and the county works. He said that every year since 2008, bids have been offered for the services of County Dog Warden, an office required by the state with which each county must comply. He said the Carrolls have been the only ones that have ever submitted a bid, and according to the law, the county has been required to award them the contract. This year's bid was for $30K, and includes 24/7 dog warden service and a place to house all dogs picked up. The bid price is to include maintenance of the shelter property along with proper care for the dogs, giving them adequate food, water, and shelter.
According to KRS 258.095, the law states: The governing body of each county shall employ, appoint, or contract with an animal control officer, or shall contract with an entity that employs, appoints, or contracts with an animal control officer, and shall establish and maintain an animal shelter as a means of facilitating and administering KRS 258.095 to 258.500.
KRS 258.095 (13) describes the description of an animal shelter as it states: "Animal shelter" means any facility used to house or contain animals, operated or maintained by a governmental body, incorporated humane society, animal welfare society, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, or other nonprofit organization;
The Carrolls have previously stated that their shelter is not a non-profit, so according to the KRS, it would seem like they wouldn't be qualified to provide these services to any county in Kentucky. This in itself is one of the main questions yet to be answered in a pending lawsuit against the Carrolls and the Edmonson County Fiscal Court. The Carrolls and the county are being sued by a resident that claims the contract is illegal.
We reached out to Kim Carroll today and she advised us that she would provide a statement and answer questions soon, but not now, at the advisement of her attorney.
Cannon said the county's responsibility is to award the contract to the most qualified entity and trust them to do their job. He likened it to the county government awarding a bid for a roofing company to install a new roof on the courthouse. He said it's a bid process, awarding the bid, and hoping that the bidder holds up their end of the deal. He said the county has not and will not maintain an animal shelter, as it is not their job. It was contracted out to the Carrolls.
"The KRS doesn't break it down like I think it ought to," he said. "I wish there was a state agency that could tighten up the requirements. I think that would help."
Cannon did admit that there was more that the county government should have done, although not required by law.
"We awarded them a contract, so it's our responsibility (the county's) to make sure they're holding up their end of the contract. And in that, it's our responsibility to make sure they're not neglecting or abusing these animals. That's why I've encouraged our magistrates to stop by there and look around. Stopping by here and there should've kept them on their toes. If we say we're coming on a certain day, well, of course they'll do everything they can to make it clean or whatever is necessary on that day. I can say that none of us (county officials) have done as much as we should have to make sure that the Carrolls are doing all they can to keep it in shape."
He also said while there have been multiple complaints about the facility, he still says he has seen it in good shape on more than one occasion, as he's stopped by unannounced. He even said he adopted a dog there a few years ago and there were no issues at all.
"I don't think that the way this shelter was found on Friday was the way it is everyday. Unfortunately, it's not the only time things have been bad."
Cannon also referenced a newspaper article from last June that he said took his comments out of context and published photos that were unfair. Several citizens have accused Cannon of taking up for the Carrolls in the midst of horrible conditions at the shelter. Cannon said he didn't take up for those conditions or the Carrolls necessarily, he said the particular article wasn't entirely accurate and he was making it known.
"They misquoted me in the article," he said. "I'll admit the conditions weren't as good as they should have been, but they took pictures of sick animals that had been dumped there the day before and they made it out like that's the way things were all the time, and it wasn't right. That's why I said what I did. However, there were parts of the shelter that was filthy, and I agreed it was. There was no excuse for that, but sometimes newspapers and tv paint a picture of what they want you to see and not the whole thing."
Cannon said if the magistrates vote to dissolve the current contract, with which he was confident, the contract would become void immediately. "We'll actually be going against the law without a running shelter, but we have to get this thing right. We've had no other options for another contract. No one else has ever given us a bid, and we tried very hard to find that last year. We'd like to see a non profit humane society place a bid, but nobody has, and we've reached out to so many to place a bid. Not just anyone can run an animal shelter. Kim knows this, she knows how to run a shelter, I just don't know why things have gotten to this point."
He said that whoever is awarded a new contract for dog warden and animal shelter services is going to hold up their end of the deal.
"The Carroll's facility isn't perfect. They've made improvements and added on through the years, but it's all we've ever had to pick from. Well, they're not an option anymore. Looks like the county will have to violate the law for at least a little while until we can get our ducks in a row and get it right."