Kentucky Shelters

This is the second article about Kentucky issues. Part I appeared in our October 2018 newsletter.

Since its inception, National Great Pyrenees Rescue (NGPR) has pulled dogs from Kentucky shelters. Great Pyrenees became popular among farmers when coyotes became a problem in the state. Like all breeds that become popular, Pyrenees are now overpopulated in this area. As a result, 25% of all the dogs rescued by NGPR come from Kentucky. Because NGPR has always had a presence in Kentucky, we have seen firsthand the deplorable state of some of the county-operated shelters as well as shelters that provide excellent care of the animals. In 2016, a study done by the University of Kentucky found that only 12% of county shelters were in compliance with Kentucky Revised Statute 258.119 and more than 50% of these shelters were in violation of three or more parts of the law. KRS 258.119 sets the minimal standards for shelter care including:

  1. Segregate male and female animals by species;
  2. Provide separate runs or holding areas for ill or injured animals. An ill or injured animals shall be treated with proper veterinary care or euthanized;
  3. Provide quarantine for dogs and cats presented to the shelter;
  4. Provide holding areas with protection from the weather;
  5. Provide appropriately sized runs and cages;
  6. Provide potable, uncontaminated water to every animal at all times, and palatable, uncontaminated food daily.

Because there are no penalties in this law, county shelters can and do operate with impunity. With no state oversight written into the law, there are no inspections or compliance reports. In 2018, a lawsuit was filed to force the state of Kentucky to acknowledge its responsibilities, enact laws to gain compliance for training shelter staff as well as monitoring and enforcement to ensure continued compliance.

NGPR fights a daily battle to save as many Great Pyrenees and Pyr mixes as we can; however, we can only save as many as we have places to put them while the dogs are getting medically treated and awaiting that pryfect furever home. We always need more volunteers to foster so we can get these great dogs and puppies out of shelters and into homes. Help us help these wonderful dogs and volunteer today.

Companion animals, in particular, are valued members of our families and although some states have better laws than others, there is always room for improvement in every state.


Joye Estes is a former NGPR Board Member and Kentucky State Coordinator. You can email her at or find her on Facebook.



2016 Study of Current Conditions of Kentucky County Animal Shelters and Degree of
Compliance with Kentucky Animal Shelter Laws

Kentucky Government Statute 258.119

Kentucky Governor and Agriculture Commissioner Sued Over Conditions of Kentucky Animal Shelters