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Residential Wildlife Rehabilitation Center May be Forced to Remove Some Pets

OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/20/13) - "What we do in life, echoes in eternity" is printed on the the wall as you walk in the front door of John and Kristin Allen's home. The Allen's appear to be the All-American family, who currently reside in a typical cul-de-sac off of Hwy. 54. What the family of six have decided to do in their spare time sets them apart from the norm.

Kristin Allen is a licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator who has practiced for more than two years. The Allen's are owners of several domestic pets such as dogs, cats, as well as a rabbit. The family also owns a number of wildlife animals including fawns, raccoons, squirrels and opossums. All animals either live inside, or in the backyard, of their modest home.

"It is normal? No," Allen said. "But it is not illegal."

The Allen family told SurfKY News in the past year, they have rescued and cared for 140 injured wildlife animals.

"These animals are our pets," Allen said. "When we call their names, they come."

Since these wildlife animals are not considered livestock or used for utility, the Allen's are not currently in violoation of any laws. But, because of numerous complaints, that is about to change.

According to the Allen's, many state officials have visited their home including Animal Control, the Health Department, Kentucky State Police and the district Planning and Zoning Department. Recent complaints have ranged from alleged rats roaming the yard to the dogs barking too loudly.

SurfKY News spoke to Earl Henderson who lives next door to the Allen's. He said it is the odor that disturbs him and his family the most.

"I have grilled out once in the past year and a half," Henderson said. "My family can't even sit on the back porch and talk or enjoy a glass of lemonade."

Henderson went on to describe the conditions that follow a heavy rain. Considering how the ground lays, he claims the filth and feces from the animals are drained to his yard.

"I don't like that, I don't like the smell and I don't think I ought to have to live in something like that," Henderson said.

One case even went to a district court at the beginning of this year. Kristin Allen was nearly charged with a criminal misdemeanor for "offensive odor" and "disturbance of the peace." The court found Allen not guilty and the charges were immediately dropped.

Although the Allen's won this battle, they have not won the war. The Planning and Zoning Department decided to reevaluate their ordinance in regards to residential wildlife rehabilitation. The Allen's would be "grandfathered" in, meaning they would be able to keep their sheep. However, under the revised Animal Control ordinance, it is likely the Allen's will have to move their sheep.

Kristin Allen told SurfKY if the changes pass, the sheep will be relocated to their seven acre property less than ten minutes from their home.

"I have mixed emotions about it," Allen said. "We will put up an electric fence and try to protect them from the coyotes."

If it were possible, Allen claims she would build a new home on their land where the sheep will be living. However, she said those plans 'are not the cards' for the family right now.

"People may not like where I do what I do, and believe me, if it were up to me, I would be on those seven acres," Allen said.

For now, the Allen's are continuing to care for both domestic and wildlife animals around their home while time permits. She explained their efforts as something the community needs. Allen said the world would be a much better place if others would do more good, too.

"When I get to the gates of Heaven, God is not going to ask me what kind of house I lived in, he's going to ask me what good I did in this world," Allen said. "And, I can tell you a lot of good things I have done for these animals."

Join the conversation and tell us what you think on the 'SurfKY Owensboro' Facebook fan page.

Evan Gorman
SurfKY News

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