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Friends of Animals

BY KELLY RODAMER 

Sweet Owen Contributor 


Hilari Gentry, founder and director of Owen County Friends of Animals (OCFA), with one of the many dogs to come through the shelter. OCFA has a budget of approximately $35,000 a year, relying heavily on monetary and in-kind donations.

Tucked away just outside the heart of Owenton lies Owen County Friends of Animals (OCFA), a non-profit organization dedicated to the rescuing of orphaned and abandoned animals and the education of proper animal care to the community. 

Set up at 80 Old Monterey Road, OCFA operates the Owen County Shelter from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. and 5-7 p.m., Monday through Friday, with varying weekend hours. The shelter has 13 kennels, but with additional crates can house up to 25 dogs at a time. However, OCFA aims to adopt out unclaimed pets and reunite lost pets with their families as quickly as possible.

Their mission is stated on their Facebook Page, https://www.facebook.com/OCFAnimals, and can be summed up in this way: To educate pet owners on proper pet care, to provide adoption services and vetting assistance to those in need, and to advance spay and neuter programs to ensure a safe and long-term solution to the problem of unwanted pets.

Since its inception in 2002, OCFA has saved over 6,000 dogs in addition to helping with the rescue, recovery, and rehoming of the occasional cat, buzzard, hawk, owl, opossum, raccoon, deer, box turtle, and snapping turtle. 

A day rarely goes by without a Facebook post from OCFA. They’ve become the go-to call for Owen countians who find stray dogs. The staff and volunteers aim to find owners quickly by relying on the community to like and share their Facebook posts. 

Though the organization has a base of more than 10,000 followers, many don’t know that OCFA operated the county shelter from 2008 through October 2021 with no funding. The county has maintained the shelter building and paid utilities, but no other designated funds were available to the shelter. In October 2021, the shelter began receiving funding from the Owen County Fiscal Court. In return for the funding, OCFA assumed responsibility for overseeing and paying the animal control officer previously paid through the county. 

With approximately $35,000 a year budgeted, there is still a heavy reliance on monetary and in-kind donations to run OCFA and the shelter effectively and efficiently. 

“We can always use help caring for dogs at the shelter,” Owen County Friends of Animals Founder and Director Hilari Gentry explained. “This is an organization created to address a community problem, so help from the community is more than welcome. The dogs need as much positive interaction with people as possible.”

Volunteers are needed daily and can expect to walk dogs, clean kennels, play with dogs in the exercise and play area, feed dogs, and do laundry. The shelter can house up to 25 dogs at a time, and the more people who volunteer, the better.

While most volunteers can generally expect to stay on-site, the animal control officer, transporter, and seasoned volunteers are often in the field, rescuing or reunifying misplaced or lost dogs. 

Gentry tells of one of her fondest reunification stories. “A car with Barren County plates was stopped for erratic behavior here in Owen County. There was a super sweet female pit bull in the car. I posted pictures of the dog in some Barren County and surrounding area neighborhoods and chamber of commerce social media sites. A very relieved preacher from Horse Cave, Kentucky, contacted me and told me his home was broken into by a mentally unstable person and his dog was stolen. The dog was overjoyed when her owners picked her up.” 

Stories like Tilly’s aren’t always the norm, but the goal of all lost pet posts is reunification. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case, and sometimes these lost pets become abandoned pets and take up residence at the shelter until an adoption takes place.

While in the shelter, volunteers like Kaylan Centers, Chris Thayer, Tina Day, Kristi Gaull, and others take care of the dogs by providing them with love, care, and attention. 

Gentry explains that many dogs come to the shelter in bad shape from acts of cruelty or neglect. “They’ve not known love from humans and it’s our goal to teach them humans can be loving and to help them have positive interactions with people.” 

All the love and care on-site volunteers give can only be done with the community’s support. The biggest need of the shelter and OCFA is money for vet bills. OCFA pays more than $30,000 annually for vetting services for the animals they care for and to assist community members in much-needed services they cannot afford. 

A large chunk of the vet bill goes to spay and neuter orphaned, abandoned, and abused animals to fight the unwanted companion animals epidemic. More than 4 million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized every year due to overcrowding of shelters and a lack of suitable homes for these animals.

Gentry and OCFA urge all pet owners to spay and neuter their pets. Research has shown many health and behavioral benefits that accompany sterilization, as well as the benefits of reducing the population of animals that are unable to be properly cared for. OCFA cares greatly for the health and well-being of all animals and asks that Owen County residents familiarize themselves with proper pet safety and care, along with the county ordinances, so they can make informed decisions about becoming pet owners.

In addition to monetary donations, OCFA always needs Pedigree dry and canned dog food (chunks), paper towels, Dawn dish-washing liquid, and Odoban disinfectant. With a revolving door of animals, specific items are regularly added to an Amazon Wish List when needed.

Volunteer help and donations are at the heart of the success of Owen County Friends of Animals. Donating time and money is a truly selfless act, and Gentry and her team appreciate the help and support they’ve received for the last 22 years. 

With every donation or volunteer hour, a dog in Owen County is shown love, care, and kindness. The team at OCFA hopes that their volunteer base continues to grow and that more Owen countians can experience the selfless love that can come from engaging with and helping an orphaned, abandoned, or abused animal.

Interested in becoming an OCFA volunteer? Text Hilari at (502) 514-1894 or call Elizabeth at (502) 750-1673.


There are several ways to donate:

• Mail checks to OCFA, PO Box 234, Owenton, KY 40359

• PayPal: ocanimals@gmail.com

• Venmo: @ocfanimals

• Register your Kroger Plus Card to participate in the Community Rewards Program (#83036 in Frankfort/Louisville area or #39920 in Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati area)

• Register your Amazon Smile account to donate to Owen County Friends of Animals.

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