Gary and Julie Bowman have taken the initiative to do something about stray animals in Monroe County.

The Bowmans live in Louisville but own a farm in Monroe County.

“Every time my wife and I go to Monroe County we always go into town and we've noticed for quite a while a number of stray dogs and cats, but primarily it seems we see dogs a lot,” Gary Bowman said.

The Bowmans are supporters of the Kentucky Humane Society in Louisville and have volunteered their help to get a some type of animal welfare program started in Monroe County.

“My wife and I approached the county judge, the mayor and the chamber of commerce and we told them we would like to help,” Gary Bowman said.

The Bowmans told community leaders they thought they could get some monetary or at least educational assistance from the Kentucky Humane Society.

“Not only is it unsightly when people come into town and see these stray dogs running everywhere, but it is a safety issue and it's a health issue,” Gary Bowman said.

There is no animal shelter in the city or the county and that is due to the cost involved to operate one.

Currently, the county employs an animal catcher to pick up the stray animals in the county.

The catcher, Leroy Smith, is also the county's deputy solid waste coordinator.

Smith takes the stray animals to Tri-County Veterinary Services along West Bushong Road. The stray animals stay at the clinic for about five days, after which they are euthanized if no one comes to claim them.

It costs the county $205 for the stray animals to be housed at the veterinary clinic for five days.

“See, we are out a lot of expense,” Monroe County Judge-Executive Mitchell Page said.

The judge-executive has looked into the cost of operating an animal shelter. He contacted county leaders in Allen County who told him in 2018 it cost $115,800 to operate their county animal shelter.

“It's an expensive thing,” Page said.

Since the Bowman's initial meeting with community leaders, several people have expressed an interest in wanting to help.

The Tompkinsville-Monroe County Chamber of Commerce has also formed a committee that is looking into the creation of an animal fostering program.

“We are meeting for the first time as a committee on June 26,” said Sharon Walker, president of the chamber of commerce.

This is also the meeting where the Bowmans will be making a donation to try and get the animal welfare program started.

“The funds can be used anyway they see fit as long as it is used for the animal welfare program,” Gary Bowman said.

The Bowmans, so far, have taken three litters of puppies to the Kentucky Humane Society from Monroe County, and all of them have been adopted.

Tompkinsville Mayor Scotty Turner commended the Bowmans for the work have done so far in trying to start an animal welfare program.

The mayor doubts an animal shelter will be built in the city anytime soon due to the cost involved.

“Ultimately, that's our goal, if we can come up with the funding for it,” Turner said.

Monroe County is not the only Kentucky county to not have an animal shelter.

An effort is also underway to get an animal shelter in Hart County.

The group spearheading the effort, Animal Rescue Kares, which was formed in 2015 and sponsors events, such as the 5K Doggy Dash, to raise money to benefit animal welfare.

Developing an animal shelter in Hart County is the group's long-term goal, but its primary goal is to do something to slow down the number of animals that end up in shelters.

“We voted to do something now, to make a difference now,” said June King, a board member of ARK, adding the one thing that can be done immediately is to hold spay and neuter events where people can obtain vouchers to get their animals spayed or neutered.

The meeting during which the Bowmans are scheduled to make their donation will start at noon on June 26 at the judge-executive's office at the Monroe County Courthouse in downtown Tompkinsville.

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