Henry County, Ky., Animal Control Officer Dan Flinkfelt, left, checks a dog, held by shelter volunteer Lisa Holbrook, for an identification implant, while Trimble County Animal Control Officer Russell Spaulding prepares a series of shots for the dog that was brought into the Henry-Trimble County Animal Shelter on Wednesday. The two counties share a facility that specializes in giving pets a second chance to find new families. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
Henry County, Ky., Animal Control Officer Dan Flinkfelt, left, checks a dog, held by shelter volunteer Lisa Holbrook, for an identification implant, while Trimble County Animal Control Officer Russell Spaulding prepares a series of shots for the dog that was brought into the Henry-Trimble County Animal Shelter on Wednesday. The two counties share a facility that specializes in giving pets a second chance to find new families. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie)
There's no such thing as a normal day at the office for Henry and Trimble county animal control officers and employees.

From receiving and responding to calls throughout the two-county area to adopting or sending animals to rescue organizations throughout the Midwest, each day is just a little different for the shelter in Sulphur, Ky.

Henry County Animal Control Officer and shelter director Dan Flinkfelt said shelter employees may set up at a local animal adoption fair one day or have several families stop by the shelter in search of a new pet. On other days, officers may receive calls from residents reporting anything from a stray animal to animal abuse or abandonment.

"We run across every scenario," Flinkfelt said.

But most of the animals picked up by animal control officers or surrendered to the shelter get a second chance to find another family. The Henry-Trimble County shelter does everything it can to place an animal in a forever home. For 2012, that meant placing nearly 500 animals in rescues throughout the Midwest, mostly in Kentucky and around the Chicago area, and over 100 local adoptions.

Just a little over 5 percent of animals - which is below no-kill shelter levels - are euthanized at the shelter, Flinkfelt said.

Even though the shelter could be considered one of Kentucky's no-kill shelters, the organization chooses not to use the designation.

"We don't want to be classified as a no-kill shelter," he said. "We don't want to be deceiving to the public."

The Henry-Trimble County Animal Shelter only puts down dangerous animals or animals with severe injuries. Yet when people drop off a stray in the neighborhood or release a family pet to the shelter, the first question asked is what the animal's future might hold or if the dog will be killed.

"When people walk in the door, they don't ask about the good stories," Flinkfelt said. 

Still, pictures of rescue survivors hang on the walls of the shelter - each with their own unique story. One photo shows a dog with a Christmas ribbon. Just months before, animal control officers rescued the dog from a wooded area where she had roamed wild for weeks. She was caught in fencing when animal control could finally catch her. 

Since then, the dog was taken in by a family who worked with her. She allows the family to be around her and has become friendly enough with humans to place the ribbon on her head within just a few short months.

Another photograph shows a rescue - a wolf named Sage - happy and healthy in a wildlife refuge where she now has room to run within a safe enclosure after being taken as part of the 2011 animal raid in Henry County, just months before the new two-county shelter opened.

The previous shelter building had no heat or air conditioning, plus the house was getting too small to serve the needs of the two counties. Then the Kentucky Humane Society didn't renew their contract for animal services with the two counties.

"We were wanting a new building," Flinkfelt said, and funds and donations finally fell into place. 

The new shelter building on Sulphur Road features 14 indoor kennels with outdoor access, a puppy room, a quarantine room and a vet room. The building became a reality with the help of a $150,000 grant from the state Animal Control Advisory Board and a donation of land from Republic Services, the corporate owners of Valley View Landfill.

The new shelter also has a larger staff. In addition to Flinkfelt, Russell Spaulding serves as the Trimble County Animal Control Officer. Two other part-time employees work at the shelter as well.

"The team we have now is a really good team," Flinkfelt said.

With the new building, officers also hope to continue expanding animal services offered to both counties. Flinkfelt hopes to be able to open a spay and neuter clinic on the property in the future.

"We have everything set up for it," he said.

PetSmart plans to donate medical equipment for the spay and neuter clinic once another building is acquired. The Humane Society of the United States also helped the shelter clear through some of the red tape to become a non-profit entity for the clinic. The counties wait for additional building funds for the project to become a reality.

The counties currently offer spay and neuter services through other organizations, and those services seem to have helped with the amount of abandoned puppies this year, Flinkfelt said.

Still, many of the rescued animals come from the same owners time after time. Owners often surrender dogs with the thought that animals are an item and replaceable, he said.

To cut down on rescues finding their way back to the shelter after adoptions, animal control officers look closely into a family's living situation and the care of other pets over the years. The shelter's pre-adoption questionnaire tries to make sure the pet matches the family and the family matches their new pet.

 "We turn away more (people) than we adopt to," Flinkfelt said.



The Henry-Trimble County Animal Shelter posts photos of dogs available for adoption online at www.petango.com/Henrytrimble and www.htshelter.rescueme.org.