30 years! It’s been a rollercoaster ride. There have been so many highs and lows, but thirty years later we are still saving so many lives.
I’ve been a worker at the Animal Refuge Center for 27 years, and a volunteer three years before that. On one hand, it feels like I’ve been there an eternity but then again, sometimes it feels like I started this journey just yesterday.
In the early morning hours of January 12, 1993 we had a fire that not only destroyed our original shelter (a metal barn with built-in rooms and cages) but also took the lives of 69 cats and kittens. Watching the flames shoot through the roof of the barn as it crumbled and collapsed into mangled metal that night made us feel like we had lost all hope. It was an event that defined us and the strength of future volunteers and employees at ARC for the next 26 years to come.
In 1996, we received news that hundreds of animals in Southern Alabama were being housed in horrible conditions. A plea was sent out to help rescue them and we responded. When we arrived, there were almost 700 animals: small dogs having nothing more than fruit or milk crates for shelter in a hurricane zone. We returned to Kentucky with more than 32 lives saved.
In 1997, after the Alabama rescue came the legal case of the decade in Hardin County, as we helped Hardin County Animal Control enter a house in Radcliff to rescue more than 65 Yorkshire Terriers. These animals were in the worst shape I had ever seen. Some of these dogs had limbs trapped under matted, filthy fur and we thought at first that they were three-legged. Karen Brandenburg, the owner of these dogs, went to trial where she was fined more than $22,000. But the judge’s hands were tied due to lack of animal cruelty and protection laws in Kentucky, so Ms. Brandenburg served only one year in jail. Not much justice there. In the end, we helped save 27 dogs and found them wonderful homes.
A year later, in 1998 we would go through another rescue at a hoarder house where we saved almost 30 cats.
In 2012, Hardin County Animal Control called for our help again to save dogs that came from a Chihuahua puppy mill right here in Vine Grove. A new life began for more than 25 dogs and puppies in our care.
In April, 2016, two of our volunteers at ARC spotted a small black kitty dragging itself along the streets of Radcliff. It turned out that this kitty was paralyzed below the waist but managed to survive out on the streets for almost a year before she was discovered. This little girl was caught and dubbed by all as “one tough little Cookie”. Out of this story was born Cookie’s Legacy; a spay and neuter fund for our Community Cats, which to date has spayed, neutered and released hundreds of homeless community cats and prevented the outbreak of thousands more. Thank you, Cookie, for inspiring this program.
And of course, last year we were approached once again by Hardin County Animal Control to rescue 54 cats and kittens out of one house in Cecilia. Over half of them have now found homes and the rest are happy at ARC, hoping one day to find their Forever Home as well.
To celebrate 30 years of livesaving work, we’re looking to have a “Puppy Plunge” on September 14th of this year. One of our workers has an in the ground pool and we want to invite the public’s pooches for a dip. There will be more info on this special event in our next newsletter.
Just recently the Animal Refuge Center was recognized by MuttNation Foundation, an organization founded by country singer Miranda Lambert and her mom Bev Lambert, which gives grants to shelters that they feel are doing much-needed lifesaving work. Two years ago we received a grant from the Petfinder Foundation for the same reason.
It’s obvious that this job comes with its ups and downs. But when people tell me that I sacrificed so much to work at ARC…my first response (as I choke back tears) is, “It’s my life and my passion.”
If you would like to see ARC’s lifesaving work continue in our community for many years to come, please take the time to donate to the cause right here at our website. You can also print out coupons from our digital edition at right and mail it in.
Your pledge to help homeless pets will save countless lives.
–Penny Edwards, Shelter Manager, President, Board of Directors
The Animal Refuge Center, Inc.