About Us

PennyI ATTENDED A CONFERENCE in Memphis, TN in April, 2014 called Adoption Options. The speaker from Petfinder.com asked all the shelter and rescue groups to introduce themselves.
When it was our turn, I told everyone that ARC was celebrating its 25th anniversary that year. To my surprise, the room erupted into applause. We heard comments like, “That’s wonderful!” and “Fantastic!”
It’s hard to believe that in July 2014 we’ve been here for 25 years, serving Hardin and surrounding counties. My mom Inge traded some of her favorite stories at the conference, like the story of Buddy, the beagle that later became our mascot.
His journey to ARC began at Hardin County Animal Control, where in the late 1980s the main form of euthanasia was gunshot. Buddy was older and not highly adoptable, so he was to be euthanized. Yet he escaped death–not once, but twice, only to run back to the very officers who were supposed to end his life. The second time around, Animal Control decided enough was enough and ARC got a phone call asking us to take this old beagle.

Animal Refuge Center, Summer of 1992
Animal Refuge Center, Summer of 1992

Buddy lived life to its fullest, marching up and down the driveway like a Pied Piper with his entourage of cats following.
I remember the days of the barn, our original shelter, days of no running water, no heat, no air, fetching water in milk jugs from the house in a cart and placing them under heat lamps to keep them from freezing while workers huddled around the kerosene heater to keep warm. Still we wept when the barn burned down on January 12, 1993: the loss of life, those 69 cats and kittens was enormous.
We’ve survived the fire, Winter Storm ‘94, the Flood of ‘97, and three cases of severe animal abuse and neglect between 1996-1999 when we took in 27 animals or more at a time. Between rescuing 27 cats and 5 dogs from a hoarder in Alabama, falling madly in love with 27 Yorkshire Terriers rescued from a horrific breeder and 28 cats in horrible shape taken from a hoarder in Radcliff, we’ve seen our fair share of animals living in terrible conditions. It’s amazing to see these same animals go from having a look of fear in their eyes to becoming our shelter greeters.

Outdoor enclosures in progress for the declaws, Feline Leukemia and FIV positive cats sponsored by the Stiths; Spring 2014
Outdoor enclosures in progress for the declaws, Feline Leukemia and FIV positive cats sponsored by the Stiths; Spring 2014

Thanks to our supporters the Stiths we now have outdoor enclosures for the declaws, Feline Leukemia and FIV positive cats so they can enjoy the great outdoors as well. Trust me when I say that ARC has come a long way. With all the renovations of the house and the outdoor shelters, we have made it more comfortable for our animals and easier to maintain for the staff and volunteers at ARC.
The younger rescue groups at the conference wanted to hear some of our stories. I guess it gave them a sense of hope that a small shelter can survive through very tough times. Many things have factored into us making it through our first 25 years, such as a great veterinarian like Dr. Beismer giving her time, groups like The Kentucky Cattlemen’s Foundation donating food, and businesses like Feeders Supply and PetSmart which make pet adoptions more accessible. There are so many reasons why we are still here after 25 years, but most of all it’s because of you, our supporters, that we’re not just surviving but actually thriving.
Not only in life, but also in death, so many of our supporters like Karen and Louis Tighe have given so much and made it possible for ARC to keep serving.
When I reflect back over the last 25 years, it’s like a slideshow of memories. There are so many we could fill several books, but now it’s time to start a new chapter, making space for new memories. Thanks to all of you, and here’s to the next 25. –Penny Edwards

“ARC to me is the greatest place on earth. When I walk in I am greeted by friendly furry faces. The animals are very generous with their love and affection. Between the fur babies and the staff you feel very welcome.” – Audrey Nelson


“The Animal Refuge Center has been my constant for over 20 years now. That’s over half my life and it has become my ‘second home’.
I’m a ‘cat person’ so I guess that means I’m not normal. The good news is that everyone that comes to the shelter loves animals and is a little strange in their own way.
I may be forgetting someone, but I think I’ve adopted 6 cats from ARC and my parents have also taken 4 home. There’s really no reason to go anywhere else, as they know the personalities of all their animals and are great at matchmaking.
The shelter has been around since 1989 and just keeps growing and evolving and it’s an awesome place to volunteer. All it takes is one time and you’ll never forget ARC and will probably be back again and again.
” – Don Phillip Chafee


Our Mission: The Animal Refuge Center is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has served Hardin and surrounding counties in Kentucky since July 29, 1989. It is a no-kill, cageless animal shelter facility that shelters animals and acts as an adoption agency, finding loving homes for all in its care. At any given time ARC houses at minimum 130 cats and 15 dogs.
Since we are no-kill, our veterinary expenses for special needs and long term care can be extensive. Some of our residents include FIV, Feline Leukemia, diabetic, senior pets, etc.
Our cats are housed in a communal environment in a renovated Ranch-style house in Vine Grove, Kentucky. Our animals are accustomed to the daily activities of ARC Staff and volunteers in addition to playtime and socialization, which makes them easier to adopt.

The Animal Refuge Center has a mission to educate on the humane treatment of animals and assist in finding spay/neuter solutions for the public.

The Animal Refuge Center receives no government or county funds but relies on support of volunteers in the community. Monetary donations are always welcome and appreciated. However, there are many other ways to support ARC. The Animal Refuge Center offers supporters the opportunity to sponsor the pet or pets of their choice in a $120 per year pledge, or just $10 per month. They receive a photo card and sponsor packet to keep as they give an animal of their choice shelter, food and veterinary care.

Volunteers are always needed to assist with Pet Adoption Days and fundraisers. ARC accepts aluminum cans for recycling. Pet supplies can often be used. Volunteers can help with animal care and socialization and maintenance of facilities. The need is great and volunteers are ALWAYS welcome. Volunteers under the age of 18 will need a permission waiver signed by their parents before they can volunteer with us.
Still not sure where to start? Check out our Volunteer Page for ideas on how you can help!

Spread the word about the Animal Refuge Center and its work for the homeless pets of Hardin County, Kentucky to all your friends and family! We can't do our work without YOUR support!

2 Thoughts to “About Us”

  1. Julie

    How do I contact you?

    1. admin

      Right here at our website. Menubar at top has our Contact email link, the sidebar at right has our shelter’s phone number. 😉

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