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Animals: forgotten casualties of tough economic times

By Jamie Baker-Nantz

Kathyrn Howell of Dry Ridge already had a new puppy.

Boy, was she surprised when her granddaughter saw a black vehicle shove two Golden Retrievers and a small Chihuahua/terrior mix house dog out and drive away in front of her home on Cason Lane.

She was even more surprised when one of the retrievers gave birth to 10 small, fuzzy babies – a litter of all girl puppies.

Howell was only able to save eight of the puppies.

Since that Sunday afternoon when the extra mouths to feed showed up at her door, they’ve wormed their way into their hearts.

“I think these dogs were someone’s pets and were well taken care of and maybe they just couldn’t afford to feed them anymore,” Howell said.

Howell, with the help of other family members, has tried feeding the ‘strays’ every dog food she can buy, but they won’t eat.

“The only thing I’ve been able to get them to eat is if I make gravy and pour it over the dog food,” she said. “I just want to know about them – their names, their history. No other questions will be asked.”

Unfortunately, this scenario is one that Marsha Chaney, Grant County’s Animal Control Officer, seeks almost on a daily basis.

Last month, Chaney said she took in 44 dogs and nine cats that were given away by their owners. When comparing the number to February, the numbers for dogs given up doubled.

“People are telling us they’ve lost their job and can’t afford to feed them or they’ve lost their homes and can’t take the animals with them or they’re moving in with relatives because of the economy,” she said.

Chaney said she’d rather see the owners try and find the animals a home before they bring them to she shelter because of the shelter’s high intake. Last month, the shelter took in 97 dogs total.

“I’d rather they be brought here than dumped or left tied up in a back yard,” Chaney added.

“There have been cases where we could almost count every rib on a dog that was left inside a home the family moved out,” she said.

Kentucky law sets the penalty for animal cruelty, which includes abandonment, as up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Chaney is an advocate of spaying/neutering animals.

Grant County’s Animal Shelter offers two low-cost spay/neuter clinics each month.

“You save lives when you spay and neuter and that’s being a responsible pet owner,” she said. “Shelters won’t be overwhelmed with unwanted animals.”

The dogs that found themselves at Howell’s house are lucky. She’s planning to keep the Golden Retrievers and has found homes for the others, including three of the eight puppies.

“I just hope the owners will reach out and tell us their history,” Howell said. “Then, maybe we could find them better homes. I understand that life hits you with things you don’t expect and if it’s a choice between feeding my kids or grandkids then I’m going to take care of them first.”