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Friends  oversees the policies and procedures for the safe adoption of animals from the Shelter.  Our goal is to ensure that animals adopted go to loving safe homes and that animal owners have the ability to care for their new furry friends.

Rescue Operations

Friends strive to support the efforts of the Shelter staff in rescue programs. Last year over 1,400, (yes you read that right,) one thousand four hundred homeless dogs and even a few cats were rescued and transported to loving homes as far away as Chicago, and Minnesota . Harlan County cannot have enough adoptions to prevent the euthanasia of the many hundreds of animals that come through the doors of the Shelter. By networking with rescue groups from other areas we can prevent the destruction of life and provide others with the joy of adopting a rescue pet from our mountains.

Spay and Neuter Programs

Friends help to underwrite the cost of spay and neuter programs in the county. We work with a network of Veterinarians and low cost providers to help pet owners prevent the arrival of unwanted puppies and cats.

Click here to download the Voucher Application
for the Harlan County Animal Shelter Spay/Neuter assistance program.


Friends are currently working with L.M.U. School of Veterinary Medicine to establish a working relationship with students needing to develop clinical skills thru the closely supervised teaching arena. This will result in more access to low cost spay and neuter options and also improve the health and well being of our shelter population.

Friends are also working to develop a elementary based school program designed to educate our children on responsible pet ownership.


Mutt-i-grees is an innovative Prek-12 program that builds on children's affinity to animals and showcases the unique characteristics and desirability of shelter pets. Mutt-i-grees teaches social and emotional skills and bridges the gap between humane education and Social and Emotional Learning.


The Curriculum includes lesson plans to focus on emotional competence and resiliency and will teach students critical skills that support self, social awareness, problem solving abilities, and teamwork. The lesson plans will have a dual focus on children and animals; each lesson plan include objectives and activities that feature principals in child development and humane education.

Mutt-i-grees is currently being implemented in several primary classrooms at James A. Cawood Elementary School. To learn more about Mutt-i-grees you can visit or contact Stephanie Chitwood, school psychologist at Harlan County Schools (

Trap and Release

HCFOS has recently been rewarded a grant from the Two Mauds Foundation to implementation of the Trap and Release program in Harlan County. Trap and Release known as TNR works by trapping and transporting feral cats to LMU Veterinary School where they are spayed/neutered, vaccinated for rabies, and then transported back to a shelter where they will be released.

TNR is successful because it breaks the cycle of reproduction in cat populations. TNR is used over trapping and euthanasia because there isn't enough manpower to hunt down and trap all feral cats in a community and because euthanasia isn't the most pleasant procedure and isn't without cost. TNR is backed by research showing it can significantly lower cat populations and maintain a healthy balance. The program will begin in spring and continue as long as funds permit.

Donate now to
Friends of the Shelter


Lost a pet? Register it here! Lost and found pets in Harlan County, Ky.

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