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 Washington County animal shelter is open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The shelter stopped opening every Saturday because fewer people were coming to it, according to Lester C. Howick with the shelter. It is now open 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. the third Saturday of each month. The first Saturday of each month pets are at The Whole Pet in Springdale. The second and fourth Saturdays animals are available at the Fayetteville Farmer’s Market or Tractor Supply.
Source: Staff report
Finding a new relocation program
The Washington County animal shelter used to partner with the PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin’ relocation program for dogs and puppies, according to Angela Ledgerwood, animal shelter director. At the beginning of 2017, Washington County animal shelter Director Angela Ledgerwood contacted a Rescue Wagon representative who had joined the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Washington County then joined the ASPCA Watershed Rescue Ride, the latest program in the ASPCA animal relocation initiative. The new program relocates dogs and cats. The ASPCA relocated 16,776 animals in 2016.
Source: Staff report
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.
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.
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.
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."
NW News on 09/17/2017
Print Headline: Washington County sends dogs, cats to other states