In Conversation

Listen to the episode:


Louisville recently expanded services and protections for pets, opening an $11.6 million shelter, and launching an animal abuse registry that’s aimed at preventing convicted animal abusers from adopting pets. WFPL’s In Conversation spoke with officials from Louisville Metro Animal Services (LMAS) and the Kentucky Humane Society about current animal needs, the various programs they offer and what is expected of pet owners.

Our guests were:

  • Kentucky Humane Society PR & Marketing Director Andrea Blair 
  • Louisville Metro Animal Services Public Information Specialist Teeya Barnes
  • Friends of Metro Animal Services Executive Director Susanna Westerfield
  • Seven-week-old pit bull “Slugger”
Louisville Metro Animal Services Public Information Specialist Teeya Barnes (top center), Kentucky Humane Society PR & Marketing Director Andrea Blair (top left), Host Rick Howlett (left), Friends of Metro Animal Services Executive Director Susanna Westerfield (bottom right)Kyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Louisville Metro Animal Services Public Information Specialist Teeya Barnes (top center), Kentucky Humane Society PR and Marketing Director Andrea Blair (top left), Host Rick Howlett (left), Friends of Metro Animal Services Executive Director Susanna Westerfield (bottom right)

Louisville shelters have often struggled with kennel space limitations; officials have responded by waiving fees to prevent overcrowding and asking people to foster pets in order to make room. 

Friends of Metro Animal Services Executive Director Susanna Westerfield recommends that those who are able to properly care for a pet adopt or foster one like she did. Westerfield’s organization collects donations to support Louisville Metro Animal Services and to help pay for eligible pet owners’ adoption or medical fees.

“I just walked into the shelter and received what I got, and she’s mine,” Westerfield said. “It’s great, because what happens [is] it opens up that kennel for a sick or injured pet that really needs to be there.”

LMAS spokesperson Teeya Barnes says 80 percent of their shelter dogs are pit bulls because many owners refuse to spay or neuter them. Pit bulls breed large litters, and Barnes said many people don’t want to adopt them because they are misinterpreted as being aggressive. 

“Pit bulls used to be known as the nanny dog,” Barnes said. “We have a lot of amazing pit bulls that do not match up to that bad reputation that has been put out.”

Seven-week-old pit bull "Slugger" who is up for adoptionKyeland Jackson | wfpl.org

Seven-week-old pit bull “Slugger” is up for adoption

Overall, Kentucky Humane Society PR and Marketing Director Andrea Blair says Jefferson County is a good place for stray pets and animals to be rescued because services and organizations are available. But Blair said shelters in more rural counties need help.

“Some of the shelters we work with — they’re very, very rural and they have very little option to get animals out alive,” Barnes said. “So more and more, we’re helping those rural communities. And that’s where we’re really seeing growth and where we can make the most impact.”

Join In Conversation next week as we talk about Kentucky’s election results and how they could impact the future of the state.

Kyeland Jackson is an Associate Producer for WFPL News.