An­i­mals sent away for adop­tion

Out-of-state re­lo­ca­tion low­ers county shel­ter pop­u­la­tion, helps bud­get

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - SCARLET SIMS

FAYET­TEVILLE — More than 200 dogs and cats have left the Wash­ing­ton County an­i­mal shel­ter this year for no-kill shel­ters out­side of Arkansas, ac­cord­ing to the lo­cal shel­ter di­rec­tor.

“More lives are saved,” An­gela Ledger­wood wrote in an email.

The county joined a re­lo­ca­tion pro­gram of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals this past March. All the re­lo­cated an­i­mals are adopted from the new shel­ters, Ledger­wood said.

The pro­gram is so new the so­ci­ety has not for­mally re­leased in­for­ma­tion about it. Sim­i­lar so­ci­ety pro­grams have re­duced kill rates at shel­ters and low­ered costs, said Sally Baker-Wil­liams, di­rec­tor of pro­grams for the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of the Ozarks.

The pro­gram helps Wash­ing­ton County save money and saves some of the an­i­mals lives, Ledger­wood said. No an­i­mals are eu­th­a­nized at the new lo­ca­tions, and none re­turn to Wash­ing­ton County.

“In essence, we have an­i­mals with­out enough adopters, and the re­ceiv­ing shel­ters have adopters with­out enough an­i­mals,” Ledger­wood said.

About 20 an­i­mals are taken out of Wash­ing­ton County two or three times a month, Ledger­wood said. On Thursday morn­ing, shel­ter work­ers loaded 24 dogs into an ASPCA van bound for Louisville, Ky.

Ledger­wood re­ferred ques­tions to the so­ci­ety about

the spe­cific shel­ters the an­i­mals go to. Emma Dick­son, media co­or­di­na­tor, said the or­ga­ni­za­tion is busy help­ing in dis­as­ter ar­eas in the wake of hur­ri­canes. She re­ferred some ques­tions to the Ken­tucky Hu­mane So­ci­ety.

The spay and neuter pro­gram has been so suc­cess­ful in Louisville the shel­ter doesn’t get pup­pies any more, said Beth Haendi­ges, the group’s pub­lic re­la­tions man­ager.

The Wash­ing­ton County shel­ter han­dled 2,422 an­i­mals last year. Of those, 982 were adopted, and 328 were killed for health or be­hav­ior rea­sons, ac­cord­ing to the 2016 an­nual re­port.

The shel­ter’s “live re­lease,” or num­ber of an­i­mals who left the shel­ter alive, was 2,094. Of those, some were taken to other shel­ters, oth­ers were re­claimed, trans­ferred via a res­cue pro­gram or sent for fos­ter­ing, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Spring­dale, Fayet­teville and the county shel­ters han­dle about 7,500 an­i­mals to­gether.

“Es­pe­cially in the South, the prob­lem is larger than any one group can han­dle,” Baker-Wil­liams said.

FEWER AN­I­MALS

As of June this year, 113 cats and kit­tens and 131 dogs and pup­pies went to Wis­con­sin, Iowa, Michi­gan, Ohio, Texas or Ken­tucky shel­ters, Ledger­wood said. Twenty-six of those were kit­tens, and 67 were pup­pies.

“Be­ing a part­ner with the pro­gram has al­lowed us to re­duce our surgery load, re­duce our length of stay and has greatly re­duced the num­ber of an­i­mals be­ing housed in the shel­ter — thus greatly de­creas­ing the over­all work­load of the vet­eri­nary staff,” Ledger­wood said.

There are 42 per­cent fewer an­i­mals at the shel­ter on av­er­age than a year ago. The av­er­age length of time an an­i­mal is at the shel­ter fell to 13 days from 17 a year ago.

With fewer an­i­mals, the county plans to nix a $106,861 vet­eri­nar­ian po­si­tion and con­tract for the ser­vice. The bid for vet ser­vices closed with­out any ap­pli­cants early this week.

The changes have trans­lated to an over­all bud­get de­crease, county records show. The de­part­ment re­quested $634,665 to run the shel­ter next year, down by $68,431 from this year. The fig­ures do not in­clude an­i­mal con­trol and civil an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cers.

RE­LO­CA­TION

The Fayet­teville An­i­mal Shel­ter used a re­lo­ca­tion pro­gram un­til the county’s shel­ter opened in 2012, said Jus­tine Lentz, shel­ter su­per­in­ten­dent. The pro­gram gave dogs a last chance, she said.

Fayet­teville’s eu­thana­sia rate at that time was 45 per­cent to 50 per­cent, said Tony Rankin, an­i­mal ser­vices pro­grams man­ager. Re­lo­ca­tion seemed like a great idea, but the no-kill shel­ters took the county’s most-adopt­able an­i­mals and ended up killing their own an­i­mals that were less de­sir­able, said Scott Harper, of Farm­ing­ton.

Harper was in­volved in the Fayet­teville re­lo­ca­tion pro­gram, he said.

“Most of us are OK with trans­port — as long as our an­i­mals are not dis­plac­ing other an­i­mals from find­ing a home,” he said.

No an­i­mals are be­ing dis­placed or eu­th­a­nized for space at the Ken­tucky shel­ter, Haendi­ges said.

“We only take in an­i­mals if we can,” she said. “If we don’t have the space, then we re­gret­fully de­cline. We never make room by eu­th­a­niz­ing.”

The kill rate at the Ken­tucky shel­ter is 4 per­cent and is for health and be­hav­ioral is­sues, she said. That’s be­low other shel­ters in Wash­ing­ton County.

Spring­dale’s eu­thana­sia rate is about 10 per­cent, Di­rec­tor Court­ney Kre­mer said. Fayet­teville’s rate in 2016 was 6.5 per­cent, Rankin said.

BACK­LASH

Some res­i­dents aren’t thrilled about the re­lo­ca­tion pro­gram be­cause there are fewer an­i­mals to choose from, Ledger­wood said.

“We are get­ting some back­lash be­cause we don’t have any an­i­mals,” she told jus­tices of the peace dur­ing a com­mit­tee meet­ing this month.

For ex­am­ple, Pet Palooza, the an­nual, low-cost adop­tion day, drew 584 people to adopt 30 an­i­mals, which was all the shel­ter had, Ledger­wood said. About 60 an­i­mals were adopted at last year’s event.

“If it were me com­ing to adopt, that would dis­ap­point me some,” said Mike Emery, chair­man of the county An­i­mal Con­cerns Ad­vi­sory Board. But the an­i­mals are get­ting homes, he said.

The pro­gram al­lows Wash­ing­ton County to keep dogs that need more at­ten­tion or health care, Ledger­wood said. The re­ceiv­ing shel­ters typ­i­cally want pup­pies and kit­tens, cer­tain dog sizes or breeds, she said.

“As an ex­am­ple, in­stead of fo­cus­ing our at­ten­tion on adopt­ing out the group of bor­der col­lie pup­pies that were sur­ren­dered, I can trans­port them, and I can help the pit-mix dogs that might have been over­looked be­cause of the col­lies. More lives are saved,” Ledger­wood said.

People also can adopt from Spring­dale or Fayet­teville. Spring­dale usu­ally has 45 dogs and 90 cats, and Fayet­teville had 38 an­i­mals Thursday, staff said.

“I’m not sure I’m go­ing to find my­self whin­ing that we don’t have enough an­i­mals,” said Jus­tice of the Peace Eva Madi­son, a Democrat rep­re­sent­ing north­east Fayet­teville. “We should be grate­ful that they are find­ing homes.”

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Amanda McCain (left), ken­nel su­per­vi­sor at the Lester C. How­ick An­i­mal Shel­ter, and Melissa Met­calf, ken­nel su­per­vi­sor, re­view pa­per­work and at­tach name tag col­lars to two of 24 dogs Thursday at the shel­ter in Fayet­teville. The dogs were picked up at 5 a.m. by con­tract driv­ers with the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals and taken to the Hu­mane So­ci­ety in Louisville, Ky.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Amanda McCain, ken­nel su­per­vi­sor at the Lester C. How­ick An­i­mal Shel­ter, places a name tag col­lar on one of 24 dogs Thursday with Jen­nifer Olsen, a con­tract driver with the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals, at the shel­ter in Fayet­teville. The dogs were picked up at 5 a.m. and trans­ported to the Hu­mane So­ci­ety in Louisville, Ky.

NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Stacey Lynn, a con­tract driver with the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals, places Mus­tard, one of 24 dogs at the Lester C. How­ick An­i­mal Shel­ter, Thursday into a car­rier in the back of at the shel­ter in Fayet­teville.

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