MOUNT VERNON — As of late Thursday, when Knox County Animal Shelter Warden John Carhart provided a dog shelter update to county commissioners, the dog shelter population was at an all-time low.

There were just three dogs in the shelter late this week, one is awaiting adoption at a rescue and another — a young female boxer — ready for home adoption. Another dog, a female yellow lab, had just come in and was placed in isolation for a few days before she can be adopted. She should go fast once available, Carhart said, as five other dogs were recently adopted, all this month, creating the all-time low number.

The other dog, Odi, is the lone remaining Pittie Paw Rescue dog, a defunct dog rescue operation shut down in late 2018 for reasons related to criminal negligence of animals. But chances are good that Odi, who has been at the shelter for more than 600 days but is friendly and well socialized, will soon have a rescue operation adopt him as well, Carhart said.

Commissioners commended Carhart and his dog shelter staff, as well as volunteers with the Dogs of Knox Fund, who have emphasized adoption and rescue. At one time, in late 2018, the shelter had a staggering number of dogs to try and place in new homes — 101 of them, Carhart recalled. About two-thirds of them — 67 — were Pittie Paw dogs. Due to the efforts of Carhart and his staff, more than 60 of them were either adopted or placed with rescue organizations.

So to go from 101 dogs to three is an unprecedented turnaround, Carhart noted. The reasons for the diminished number are not completely clear, but it appears to involve a renewed emphasis on dog owners caring for their dogs like never before — a rare silver lining amid a worldwide pandemic. Carhart said Dogs of Knox volunteer efforts, such as helping host a “Clear the Shelters” adoption event, have helped get shelter dogs adopted, as has social media networking.

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews