Spencer County Animal Shelter to reopen this fallJuly 26, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
CHRISNEY — If all goes according to plan, Spencer County will reopen its animal shelter in Chrisney in September.
Word spread this week that the Spencer County Animal Control Board had plans to reopen its shelter. Spencer County Commissioner and Animal Control Board member Tom Brown told The Herald Wednesday that those rumors were true, adding that the county plans to contract with It Takes A Village Canine Rescue of Evansville to run the shelter.
According to the It Takes A Village’s website, the organization is no-kill, meaning “that we never euthanize for time or space purposes. None of our animals have a “time limit” to be adopted. We have cared for some dogs for years before finding a forever home.”
They do write that they will humanely euthanize in cases of “extreme, untreatable illness, as recommended by our vet, or severe aggression which risks the safety of the community."
The county will still have its own oversight through its animal control board.
“It should be a better operation than we had before,” Brown said.
The move will likely also result in a slight cost saving for the county. Under the old structure, the county budgeted about $76,000 annually for the shelter, Brown said. The contract with It Takes A Village is for $6,000 monthly, or $72,000 annually.
Spencer County Animal Control and the shelter it runs in Chrisney are not the same as the Spencer County Humane Society, located in Dale.
According to Herald archives, the county closed its animal control department and shelter in October 2018 and terminated the director, Christina Payne, after reports surfaced of cats being euthanized through freezing. Former animal control employee Bridget Woodson came forward with the reports in August 2018. She worked in the shelter. A criminal investigation followed the reports, but no charges were filed due to insufficient evidence and Indiana’s animal cruelty laws.
In February, the animal control board reformed, with two additional members, and was immediately hit with news that Alley Cat Allies — an animal rights group in Bethesda, Maryland, that got involved after the reports surfaced — was suing Spencer County Animal Control, Spencer County Animal Control Board, Spencer County Board of Commissioners and Christina Payne.
The lawsuit asked an Indiana judge to file an injunction forbidding the shelter from using inhumane and illegal methods of euthanization, and to bar the shelter from reopening until the board adopts humane policies and best practices for the treatment of animals and trains all employees on those policies.
The county and Alley Cat Allies have since settled out of court, clearing the way for the shelter to reopen.
The news has been met mostly with support. A post on the News Now Spencer County Facebook page, which is not affiliated with a news organization and gives Spencer County residents a place to share news and events, garnered only positive comments, with people recognizing the need for the shelter to reopen.
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