Gifts To Our Community: Louisville Metro Animal Services
As we embark on the season of gift giving and receiving, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the community-wide gifts that benefit residents of Louisville and Southern Indiana. If you haven’t appreciated these gifts as much as you could have, now is the time.
For Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS), 2019 will be a big year because it will complete the $11.5 million construction of its new shelter, replacing the old one on Manslick Road that was built in the 1960’s. The state-of-the-art building will feature 33,000 square feet of space for a new ventilation system, a public veterinary clinic, seven play yards for dogs, a grooming room, a half-mile exercise track, and a separate room for small mammals. LMAS director Ozzy Gibson says the new facility, which is located on Newburg Road next to Animal House, its adoption center, is long overdue.
What the public may not realize is that, by law, LMAS is required to take all abandoned/stray animals, which means it is very easy for its space to become overcrowded, especially during the summer months. Gibson, who became the director in 2016, has tried to interject some unique ideas into how LMAS is operated. “I’ll run a gauntlet to try to adopt any adoptable pet,” he says.
One approach that LMAS now offers is free adoptions for any dog over 40 pounds and any adult cat through its Pay It Forward program. Even though the adoption cost is zero, and the animals are spayed/neutered and microchipped, Gibson says adoptees “have to go through an adoption process as if I was asking $1,000 per animal” because he and his staff want to ensure that adopted animals are going to responsible pet owners. This program helped move an additional 1,000 animals out of the shelter in 2017, and 2018 looks to duplicate that.
Gibson credits Friends of Louisville Metro Animal Services with helping LMAS reduce the number of animals in its shelters. Another program that the 501(c)(3) nonprofit has created is VIP Status, which benefits individuals who adopt a dog that has been at LMAS over 100 days. They receive three years worth of vaccinations and well checks for their adopted dog, as well as a harness and crate. These efforts have resulted in LMAS earning the coveted no-kill shelter designation.
While Gibson hopes that the continued efforts on spaying/ neutering will one day decrease the stray population, he also realizes that people may abandon their pets for a variety of reasons, including financial strain or illness. “I want you to have your pet,” he says. “We are here to work with you.”