EARLIER: Shelby shelters 1st to be 'no kill'

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By Bobbie Lanham

Shelby County animal rescue officials say their facilities are the first in Kentucky to be totally "no kill."

The county will complete one year of required no-kill performance on Wednesday, having put down only eight feral cats, sick animals and aggressive dogs and achieving a 90 percent adoption.

A facility must not euthanize more than 10 percent of the animals it collects to qualify as "no kill."

The Shelby County Animal Shelter reached that threshold during this period. The Shelby County Humane Society has qualified for no-kill status since its inception in 1978.

Shelby County's status was recently recognized at a conference of the No Kill Advocacy Center in Washington, which has cited no other Kentucky county for this accomplishment.

"I have been talking about this [happening] for years and years and years," said

Barbara Zekausky of the Shelby County Humane Society, which works with the Animal Shelter to find homes for dogs and cats.

She said Rusty Newton, Shelby County's Deputy Judge Executive and Acting Animal Control Director, was instrumental in helping the county become designated no kill.

"We ... appreciate the continued support of the Shelby County No Kill Mission and other organizations and individuals that work to ensure that all of our adoptable animals find a good home," Newton said earlier.

He was unavailable for comment Thursday.

The Animal Shelter took in 952 animals in 2008, and Shelby County Animal Control Officer James Collins reported only 176 of those were destroyed.

"We don't euthanize any animals here unless they are too ill to recover, or have a contagious disease or are too aggressive to be adopted," Collins has said.

American Humane Association reports that 9.6 million animals are euthanized each year in the U.S. That's 64 percent of those collected.

Since 2004, the Humane Society has spayed or neutered 12,400 animals. LifeBridge for Animals, a non-profit animal advocacy group, has recently equipped a surgical room at the Animal Shelter, where volunteer veterinarians spay or neuter animals.

No Kill Mission, a program started by Kelly Jedlicki, secretary of the Humane Society Board of Directors, has been raising money to help Shelby County become no-kill county.

Another group is the newly formed Catsnip that traps feral cats, spays or neuters them and releases them. Woodstock Animal Foundation of Lexington has helped sick animals in Shelby County recover to be placed in homes.

The no-kill status will be celebrated May 30 at the Animal Shelter on Kentucky Street in Shelbyville.