Roughly $3 million in state grants is available to animal shelters to help handle the 285,000 animals who become homeless in Kentucky each year, 85 percent of which probably are euthanized.
"We do everything that we can, and it always comes down to a funding issue," said Dr. Linda Grimes, chairwoman of the Animal Control Advisory Board, which announced the grants Wednesday. "It's not at all that they want to put those animals down."
She said some shelters in urban areas do a good job of getting pets adopted, but rural areas often struggle. Some rural shelters have to put down all the animals they receive.
She said the Kentucky euthanasia rate mirrors the national average.
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County-run shelters or shelters that contract with counties are eligible for the grants, she said. State law requires each county to have a shelter or contract with someone to provide animal shelter.
It's the first time in at least five years that the grant money, which comes from bond sales authorized by the General Assembly, has been available, said Bill Clary, a spokesman for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. Animal-control issues are handled by that department. Clay said records on such programs are maintained for only three years at the department, so he wasn't immediately sure of the amount of past grants.
The deadline to submit applications is July 15. The board expects strong competition for the limited amount of money.
The Animal Control Advisory Board also oversees the spay/neuter grant program, funded by the sale of spay/neuter license plates. About $700,000 has been awarded since the license plate was introduced four years ago, Grimes said. But requests for the plates have slowed. About $60,000 is available this year.