By LeeAnn Cain / Staff Writer
“We’re down but we’re not out.”
That’s what Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter Director Deana Myers said Monday as she and her shelter’s employees and volunteers continue their efforts to recover from the Friday fire that destroyed the building and killed many animals.
The staff is trying to find a building to lease between Williamsburg and Corbin, according to Myers. Myers said the shelter’s staff had secured a portable shelter structure from Mike Cassidy of Jessamine County that will be set up by Thursday. This structure is similar to a kennel, and has heating and water. Myers said it will be able to house about 20 dogs.
Myers said she doesn’t know the dollar amount that the shelter’s insurance will cover, but she knows it won’t be enough to fix the building’s interior and it won’t help the animals that are in need of immediate rescue.
The shelter is currently closed to the public and will be for about a week until the temporary shelter gets set up and the inside of the building is cleaned out, Myers said. The shelter requests that the community not drop off cats or dogs, but rather keep them until the shelter has its temporary units in place. The shelter will continue to take in strays and abandoned animals, and Myers said that people are needed to foster these animals until a place is found for them.
All of the animals left homeless by the fire have been placed in either homes or rescue organizations, according to Myers. Most have been moved to the Lexington Humane Society or Wagging Hearts of Chicago, but local rescue organizations such as Homeward Bound of London and Hope For Animals Rescue Team of Corbin have taken in a few. The three cats that were rounded up will be taken for adoption at Pet Sense in London.
Four dogs have been adopted by their foster families: Bugsy, Rex, Sammy, and a dog named Larry who was adopted by a firefighter with the same name.
Humane traps have been set for the one missing dog. According to Myers, her staff has heard him barking in the woods near the building.
Eight cats are believed to have escaped the building, but only three have been found, according to Myers. It was originally thought 29 cats perished in the fire; however, that number has risen to 34 and that number could change.
The Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter takes in about 5,500 animals per year and saved 2,000 animals last year. Myers said she wanted the shelter to come back “bigger and better” with the capacity to house even more animals.
Details about the night of the fire are also slowly coming together.
According to Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell, Detective John Hill responded to a call from the shelter’s alarm system reporting a broken office window about 9:35 p.m. although Hill determined that the building’s doors and windows had not been breached.
Harrell said that Hill observed that the attic was on fire. Hill alerted emergency responders to the blaze and helped firefighters and shelter staff rescue some of the dogs before the shelter’s roof collapsed.
Kentucky State Police began an investigation into the fire about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, but the investigation is left mostly to the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department according to Kentucky State Police Post 11-London Public Affairs Officer Trooper Lloyd Cochran.
According to Cochran, the cause of the fire is still undetermined, but foul play isn’t suspected. The investigation continues by KSP arson investigator Brian Lewis.