Humane Society animal shelter evacuates as Kentucky River floodwaters rise

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, March 2, 2021

With the Kentucky River spilling over its banks, the Franklin County Humane Society decided to evacuate the animal shelter on Monday.

“I think it was probably around 2 p.m. when (shelter manager Kerry Lowary) knew the evacuation would be necessary and that it would need to be immediate,” FCHS President Sam Marcus told The State Journal. “Since the water level was projected to rise above Kentucky Avenue by Tuesday morning, evacuation had to be completed before the end of the day.”

By 9 p.m. Monday, all the animals had been moved to the Woodford, Lexington and Anderson humane societies, so no foster homes were necessary. Marcus said Tin Woof Inn also took in eight dogs.

With the Kentucky River expected to crest at 39.9 feet — 40 feet is major flood stage — at 1 a.m. Thursday, Marcus said it will be close as to whether the animal shelter building will flood.

“My understanding from others is that in 2010 water was about 18 inches inside the shelter,” he said. “The crest then was 42.84 feet.”

As of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the latest observed value, the river was at 37.66 feet. Kentucky Avenue, along with basements in homes, floods at 38 feet.
Marcus credited Lowary’s leadership for making the evacuation run as smooth as possible.

“She had a plan. She thought of everything and she executed that plan perfectly in a calm, capable manner,” he said. “There was no chaos, no frustration, no anger or confusion, all of which I would have demonstrated under the circumstances.”

Marcus said that all the animals are fine and that operationally the humane society is doing well.

“The only thing the community can do to help is get us over the finish line fundraising for the new shelter,” he added.
“If this doesn’t demonstrate the need, nothing will.”

According to Marcus, in order for the new animal shelter to become a reality, community involvement from every sector — businesses, corporations, professionals and individuals — is a must.

“We are asking schools to lead fund drives and challenge each other to sponsor things like dog kennels or cat condos,” Marcus explained. “Frankfort’s largest employers can schedule employee fundraising drives and pledge to match their contributions.”

Permanent naming opportunities are also offered for donor recognition.

To find out more about the humane society’s new shelter fund, email

Donations may be made by visiting or by sending a check to the Franklin County Humane Society, 1041 Kentucky Ave., Frankfort, KY 40601. Be sure to specify the new animal shelter on the memo line so it will be deposited into the right account.

“The FCHS deserves to have good things and an appropriate new home that Frankfort can be proud of primarily because of Kerry’s leadership and ability to create positive outcomes for our animals,” Marcus said.

The humane society expects to move back into the animal shelter over the weekend, but that depends on the river level.