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Sunday, April 18, 2021

Spencer County Animal Control: Partial settlement allows shelter to reopen

by Dean Bolin

Spencer County Commissioners have negotiated a partial settlement agreement between the county and Alley Cat Allies (ACA), a national organization advocating for the human treatment of cats, in order to re-open the Spencer County Animal Shelter.

The version of the settlement given to the Leader has not been dated by the Clerk’s office, but both the commissioners and the animal control board signed off on the agreement on July 18 and 19 respectively.

Under the agreement, the county will contact Evansville-based “no kill” facility It Takes a Village Canine Rescue (ITV) to operate the shelter once re-opened. ITV is known regionally throughout the area and has, during the time since the shelter was closed, attempted to assist the Animal Control Board. The organization has worked with Spencer County for over nine years, particularly with Dr. Kevin Kennedy of Hilltop Veterinary Services.

When the shelter opens, it must be open to the public and keep public hours. The county agrees to abide by state law regarding animal shelter management. Dr. Kennedy will serve as ITV’s veterinarian for the Chrisney facility.

ACA will not play a role in the actual operation of the facility. It will, however, be allowed to retain the services of Dr. Elizabeth Berliner DVM who will advise the facility in the design and implementation of the shelter’s programs, policies and procedures. Her first consultation will be prior to the re-opening of the shelter, then a second visit sometime after the opening. The doctor’s recommendations are to remain confidential (but must follow Court orders or Public Access requests if they arise.) ACA is allowed to publicly discuss the agreement, but may not disparage the county.

ITV is not a part of the lawsuit and is therefore not obligated to any requirements. They and the county may accept whatever recommendations from Dr. Berliner they so choose.

Spencer County legally does not admit any liability or wrong-doing by accepting the agreement. The lawsuit as it pertains to the county and ACA is dismissed with prejudice. That does not completely finish the matter as Bridget Woodson, who alerted the media to the troubles last summer, still retains her part of the case now listed as “pending.” As far as could be ascertained, neither her nor her attorneys participated in the settlement. Therefore her part of the case remains pending. When asked by local media for comment, Woodson deferred, citing legal reasons. 

ITV issued a press release earlier last week, expressing excitement for opening their second shelter in Spencer County. They particularly thanked attorneys Susan Odoys and Neal Anderson who negotiated the settlement, Spencer County Commissioners, Commissioner Attorney Jeff Lindsey, Dr. Kennedy and Spencer County residents who assisted abandoned and lost animals during the time when the shelter is closed. Though a date is not officially set, they are aiming to be open this fall.

On the ITV facebook page, many animal lovers praised the news, with some of the nearly seventy posts on the site being from Spencer County. 

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