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story.lead_photo.caption Macario Cadena (left) and Juan Perez with Verzani Construction of Bella Vista lay rebar for footings Tuesday while working on the expansion at the Centerton Animal Shelter.

BENTONVILLE -- Animal advocates barked their concerns about an animal services contract with Centerton then the City Council took them up on their offer to help improve it at Tuesday's meeting.

Bentonville's animal control is part of the Police Department. The city doesn't have an animal shelter so has been taking lost and stray dogs to the Rogers shelter since 2007.

Council action

Bentonville’s City Council met Tuesday and approved:

• A $127,757 agreement with Ozark Regional Transit Service fo service in Bentonville this year.

• Appointing Tim Robinson to the Public Art Advisory Committee.

• Paying Downtown Bentonville $30,000 for various services.

• Agreements with various sports organizations to provide umpires and officials for baseball, softball and soccer.

• Agreements with four individuals or organizations to teach fitness classes in the Parks and Recreation Department.

• Buying new patrol uniforms for the Police Department.

Source: Staff report

Instead of renewing the animal services contract with Rogers for another year, city officials are looking to partner with Centerton's shelter.

The City Council voted down a proposed contract 5-2 Tuesday after hearing from five animal advocates who said they wanted to help find short- and long-term solutions to the city's stray and lost animal issues.

Council members Octavio Sanchez and Chris Sooter voted for the contract. Council members Stephanie Orman, Tim Robinson, Bill Burckart, Jim Webb and Chad Goss voted against it.

Animal advocates argued the contract with Centerton was too vague to ensure the welfare of animals taken there. They said they hadn't seen building plans and didn't know operational specifics, such as if the building was climate-controlled or if there was an adoption program.

"I just want you all to know that the rescue community ... they want to step up," said Olivia Nagel, founder of Crystal Creek Rescue. "They want to partner with Bentonville in this contract to help you flesh out what needs to be fleshed out, put things in place that need to be there so that services for money are actually in the contract."

Sara McGuigan talked about a few cities seeing benefits from having shelters with no-kill policies and Bentonville should be progressive in animal care as it is in other cultural aspects.

The base bill to partner with Centerton is $28,000 more than to partner with Rogers, and the fee for each dog transported will also increase, according to the 2017 and 2018 contracts.

The city pays Rogers $6,000 a month, totaling $72,000 a year, for a base fee plus $95 per animal taken to its shelter, according to the most recent contract, which expires Feb. 1, 2018.

The city will pay Centerton $8,333 per month for 36 months, or three years, totaling $100,000 each year, for a base fee plus $100 for each animal taken to its shelter, according to the contract, which goes into effect May 1.

The Centerton Animal Shelter has 18 kennels, but is in the process of expanding to 60 with additional dog runs outside. Bentonville officials said it should be finished by May.

Rogers has about 90 kennels, said Ben Cline, public relations specialist for Rogers. It normally has about 75 to 80 animals at a time. Last year saw an increase in intakes and was at capacity or near capacity for most of the year.

The Rogers shelter doesn't depend on the money from the Bentonville contract. Not taking Bentonville's animals would open up space at the Rogers shelter, he said.

Police Chief Jon Simpson told the council the partnership and programming to return dogs to owners and adopt dogs to new owners will be more involved in Centerton than it was in Rogers where officers essentially just dropped dogs off, he said.

There's also nothing in the contract prohibiting the city working with other organizations in the future to find more long-term solutions, he said.

"Much thought has gone into this, but at the same time we know there's some work to do," he said, adding one step the city is taking is hiring a third animal control officer this year.

Council members discussed tabling the contract. Mayor Bob McCaslin encouraged them not to, saying "numerous uprisings" have occurred each time the animal services contract comes before council. No animal advocate or group has ever presented city officials with an alternative, he said.

"We need to move forward, but there's some gray areas that haven't been discussed," council member Bill Burckart said.

Council member Stephanie Orman urged city officials and fellow council members to use the experience and resources animal advocates have.

"We have people out there that want to make a difference and want to be involved in making a solution," she said.

Council members agreed to hold a Committee of the Whole meeting at 4 p.m. Friday to discuss the contract further with representatives of the animal rescue and advocate groups. The meeting will be at the Community Development Building, 305 S.W. A St.

Photo by NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF
The kennels at the Centerton Animal Shelter. The shelter has 18 kennels, but is in the process of expanding to 60 with additional dog runs outside, Mayor Bill Edwards said.

NW News on 01/10/2018

Print Headline: Bentonville tables animal services contract

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