LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Eight months into her new job of taking a Louisville agency with a troubled past in a new direction, Metro Animal Services Director Jessica Montgomery still gets distracted sweet-talking cats.

She had to stop a couple times while taking us on a tour of the facility on Manslick Road.

Montgomery has more than 15 years of experience working in animal welfare, including serving in Iraq as a veterinarian nurse in the army.

"My gut told me this was the right place. I got to meet my team and we talked and we just clicked,” Montgomery said. “Ultimately, all I've ever wanted to do is work with animals -- and I love Louisville.”

Louisville Metro Animal Services needs a positive direction. It has had a troubled past with previous management, including one employee who was running an online escort service and another accused of sexual harassment.

When asked what she felt was her biggest challenge, Montgomery said, "The past. Trying to outlive that shadow of the past, because we've done some great things."

The great things include over 80 percent of animals leaving the shelter alive, which Montgomery attributes to increased relationships with local rescues.

"We do a transport every two weeks here. It's 20 animals or more going to rescues or shelters in other states that don't have any animals. They need animals because they have a waiting list of people who want to adopt them. We're like, ‘sure take some of ours.' They're leaving us spayed or neutered; they've got microchips, all their vaccinations."

Another success is the spay and neuter programs.

"The spay/neuter programs we have are working,” Montgomery said. “Statistically showing we have less intake of cats because those programs are out there."

Montgomery said before she arrived there were rows and rows of cats. The reduction of intake means there's fewer now.

The area for the dogs is noisy and overwhelming. Montgomery says, ideally, they would have more space there.

LMAS has found more room at Animal House, the adoption house that opened five years ago. The animals have rooms in clean, bright spaces and even get treated to classical music playing in the speaker system.

Montgomery says facilities are not built like Manslick anymore.

"I believe it was built in the 1960s and -- what I understand -- it was a temporary place. We do the best we can with what we got because the animals deserve it," said Montgomery.

Eventually, a new intake facility will be built on to the back of Animal House.

"Yesterday. I want to get out of here yesterday," Montgomery said of the Manslick Road facility. But it will take several million dollars and lots of planning. That planning is in the very early stages.

On Memorial Day weekend, all adoption fees are waived for all military members and veterans. After Memorial Day weekend, a new, permanent discount will start for military members and veterans. They will always receive a 15 percent discount on adoptions.

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