One Day; Danville-Boyle County Animal Shelter

Published 8:30 am Monday, November 27, 2017

Dan Turcea and Debbie McCown

The Advocate-Messenger is introducing a new weekly feature called One Day. Every Monday, we will feature a photographic essay on what happens in one day for a local person. It may be someone you recognize, someone you’ve heard of or someone who does a lot of work behind-the-scenes to make Boyle County better. These people work hard and often go unnoticed; this is our attempt to give them a little of the credit they deserve. If you know of someone or some group that deserves to be featured in a One Day essay, call us at (859) 236-2551 and provide a name and how we can get in contact with the person or group.

The Danville-Boyle County Animal Shelter is a place where unwanted, abused and stray dogs and cats are cared for until they are adopted by a kind heart or their owners come searching for them. Sometimes, these creatures are taken by an animal control officer under stressful circumstances, such as if they are in a vehicle when the driver is charged with DUI, or their owner is arrested during a drug bust.

Dan Trucea, director of the Danville/Boyle County Animal Shelter loads a 40-pound capacity washing machine with dirty towels and blankets last Wednesday. He says the washer and dryer run all day.

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One day — Nov. 22 — Dan Trucea, director, and Debbie McCown, an officer at the shelter, worked in unison to get the job done. The day started doing laundry; puppy poop was wiped up; phones were answered; several puppies, a dog and a cat were placed in crates, loaded into the back of a covered pickup truck and hauled to the vet’s office for surgeries; and two stray dogs were caught — all before 9:30 a.m.

Turcea and McCowan agreed that their jobs can be very discouraging at times. Seeing the condition some of the animals are in and knowing some owners don’t care — “That makes me mad,” McCowan said.

They both said they’ve seen the worst in people, but the animals they care for are innocent. McCowan said there are really bad stories about animal abuse. Once, she went to pick up a dog on a Friday that someone reported as being undernourished. When she arrived to get the dog, the owner said it was fine, because he had just fed it on Monday.

Those types of owners make her very frustrated. “They don’t even want to learn how to take care of their pets.”

She also said that Kentucky is on the bottom of the list for animal cruelty. “It’s the worst state.”

Trucea said he never adds up the number of dogs they have at any one time — there are just too many.

While working in the laundry room, Trucea still answers the phone. The caller was reporting two stray dogs followed him home and they need to be picked up.

During the holidays, it’s common for owners to surrender dogs to the shelter because they don’t want it underfoot. Many times, they’ll bring in a “stray” or call animal control to come and pick it up, when in reality, it’s their own dog. They know this because sometimes the caller slips up and calls the dog by name, McCowan said. They’ve even gone on calls to pick up a stray and a child runs out of the house calling for it.

She said working with these dogs and cats, “You have to have a heart.” But once a friend told her, “You have to think with your head and not your heart.”

Even though there is a lot of dirty work at the shelter — washing towels and blankets all day, continually cleaning feces and urine out of kennels, loading donated supplies into storage, and hauling dogs and cats to the veterinarian for spaying and neutering — there are good times, too. McCowan said,

“I like animals,” McCowan said. “And I like to see good outcomes, like sending a dog to a good home.”

Animal control officer Debbie McCowan carries a crate full of puppies into the vet’s office for their surgeries.

At far right, animal control officer Debbie McCowan chats with Casey Clem at Town and Country Animal Clinic after dropping off several animals for surgeries.

After a boy dropped off dog food and treats he received in lieu of birthday gifts, Turcea gets ready to carry them to the storage room.

While animal control officer Debbie McCowan is coaxing a stray dog into a large crate, Jim Sears holds the dog’s apparent “best friend” a smaller black dog who wanted to stay with his friend, but didn’t want to get into the crate.

After coaxing a stray dog into a large crate, animal control officer Debbie McCowan gets ready to round up the dog’s apparent “best friend” a smaller black dog who wanted to stay with his friend, but didn’t want to get into the crate as Jim Sears watches


After returning to the animal shelter with two stray dogs McCowan runs a wand over the dog’s back searching for a possible microchip that could identify its owners as Turcea keeps the dog under control.