Revamped Garrard shelter offers adoptions

November 14, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

LANCASTER - "It is so clean in here, and these dogs are all so sweet. It's hard to choose. If I could I'd take all of them," said Paula Murphy, looking down at four sleeping puppies sprawled out across each other.

Murphy and her 4-year old son, Dalton, came from Bryantsville Saturday to visit Garrard County's newly renovated Animal Shelter.

The Murphys had come to adopt a new pet for Dalton, whose dog Breena was recently hit by a car. They were eyeing a bulldog-and-husky mix. The shelter's new adoption policy now allows visitors to take home a pet directly from the facility, located at 368 Hanging Fork Road.

The shelter is run by Tevis Graham, the county's animal control warden, and his wife Sharon, who is deputy. They took control of the shelter on June 16 and have made several changes.

Their daughter, Jessica Isaacs, walked attentively through the facility, talked to the animals, fed them, and let them out to interact with the visitors. She attends school at night but spends most of her days helping her parents maintain a home for the 19 dogs and one cat who were at the shelter Saturday.


Prior to the Grahams' arrival, the shelter basically served as a temporary home for stray animals picked up in Garrard County. Some animals were shipped to the Jessamine County Humane Society for possible adoption.

At the Garrard shelter, an animal is spayed or neutered, given all shots and wormed before they are sent to their new homes. Total cost for an adoption is $76.50

Seeking good homes

Even though one of the shelter's top priorities is helping the animals find a new home, the Grahams don't let their charges go home with just anyone. They go out of their way to make sure it's to a good setting.

"We want the interested party to spend some time with the animal here on the property, which we supervise. Then, we make a home visit after they've filled out an application. We make one follow-up visit that is unannounced after the adoption is final (and the animal has left the shelter), which they're told about up front. We have to make sure that the animal and owner are a good match," Graham said matter-of-factly.

While this approach may seem be overly intrusive, Graham said there are good reasons to be so picky.

"The hardest part of this job is to respond to calls about a neglected or abused animal. We've rescued dogs that are completely skin and bones from neglect. Others that have been beaten. I just can't believe anyone could treat an animal .... " Graham said, shaking her head and trailing off in emotion before finishing her sentence.

Because the Grahams have rescued animals from dire circumstances, they take extra care to make sure the environment inside the shelter is as inviting as possible. A quick tour of the facility revealed well-kept pens and animals responding happily to visitors.

"We walk through each and every morning and speak to all of them, love on them, see how they're doing. You can't talk to one and not talk to all of them," said Graham, who refers to the animals as "babies." "You may have a favorite, but you can't show it while you're out there with them."

Nineteen dogs

Out of the 19 dogs that are in the Grahams care, nine are pure breeds.

There's Maggie, the Dalmatian, completely unnerved by all the incessant barking and jumping by the Jack Russell across the way. A basset hound that's at least three-feet long with big droopy eyes. There are three labs dying to get out of their pens and play with visiting kids. And a big teddy-bear of a Doberman named "Cowboy."

All of the dogs seemed well behaved and listened to Graham and Isaacs remarkably well.

"It's attention, I'm telling you," Graham said. "If there's anything I would tell someone they need to be prepared for when getting a pet, I'd say giving them plenty of attention and love. Bottom line, it's the same as a child - if you're not ready for one, don't get one."

The Garrard County Animal Shelter is in need of any kind of donated items used for caring for animals, especially for cats. For more information, call (859) 792-1562 or (859) 339-9117.

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