NICHOLASVILLE — The Jessamine Humane Society has given notice that it will end its operation of the county animal shelter on Sept. 20.
That doesn't mean the shelter will close, but it might mean that Jessamine Fiscal Court will have to assume operation until someone else takes over, Jessamine County Judge-Executive Neal Cassity said.
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The fiscal court operated the shelter at City-County Park before 2000, when the county entered into a contract with the humane society to run it. The contract was for $65,000 a year, but Jessamine Humane Society president Kim Hurst estimated that members put $30,000 of their own money into the operation.
Last month, Jessamine Fiscal Court decided to put operation of the shelter up for bid after a group called SAVE — Shelter, Adopt, Volunteer and Educate — expressed interest in running the shelter. The county has advertised to accept bids for the shelter's operation, but the Jessamine Humane Society decided not to submit a bid.
"When we realized that someone was willing to step up to the plate and take over the daily operation of the shelter, it kind of came as a relief to us," Hurst said. "Frankly, we're financially exhausted. This is 24-7. We operate that place 365 days a year."
Hurst said they decided "it's probably best that we not submit a bid."
"We put in countless volunteer hours and our own money just to keep the facility open ... we just saw this as an opportunity to move forward," she said.
In a written statement, the humane society said it "has shouldered additional financial burden each time a cruelty case has resulted in animals confiscated" by county animal control officers and put into the humane society's care.
"Despite the generosity and donations of concerned people, these have been very costly to the humane society," the statement said.
And there were misunderstandings about the role of animal control and the humane society. "The humane society's role is as caretaker of the animals. We are not law enforcement," the statement said.
The humane society still has in its care 40 of the 74 horses seized from a Jessamine County farm in March.
And Hurst said some people were not happy with the humane society's adoption policy and procedures "because we are very careful about the placement of animals."
Hurst estimated that the shelter has 30 cats and 35 to 40 dogs at the moment.
"We're still working with adoptions and we're still there and trying to get them out to foster homes," Hurst said.
Meanwhile, the humane society plans to build its own shelter on property off U.S. 27 near Camp Nelson, Hurst said.
"We'll probably take a month to catch our breath, to be honest, and then we'll move forward."