BENTONVILLE -- Best Friends Animal Society will open a regional pet resource center in the city with the help of an $892,500 grant for architectural design and engineering from the Walton Family Foundation, according to a news release.
"Communities are beginning to move away from the traditional shelter model and toward a proactive, community resource beyond the confines of shelter walls," Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, said in the release. "The Best Friends pet resource center will transform the way the public thinks about caring for lost and homeless pets and will be a source of pride for the people of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas."
Resource center programming
The Best Friends Animal Society resource center will offer complementary programs to local and regional animal service organizations and to traditional and nontraditional sheltering services. Programs will include:
• Lifesaving services
• Pet ownership retention
• Training for animal welfare leaders
Source: Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends social media
• Twitter: @BestFriends
• Instagram: @BestFriendsAnimalSociety
Bentonville also plans to build an animal shelter, David Wright, Parks and Recreation director, previously said. Bentonville officials will ask residents early next year what the facility should look like and what services they would like to see offered, he said.
Bentonville doesn't have an animal shelter. The city contracted with Centerton for services for dogs picked up in Bentonville. Bentonville pays Centerton $100 per animal.
The Bentonville Pet Resource and Service Center Steering Committee worked for 18 months on a solution for animal services within the city before the decision was made in August for the city to build and operate a shelter.
The committee recommended a public/private partnership between the city and the Walton Family Foundation with a third party operating a pet resource center, according to an August city news release. The release announced the city's decision to go solo.
The estimated size of the Best Friends space will be 20,000 square feet. The center will be near the recently announced nearly 100-acre park on Southwest Eighth Street, according to the release.
The Best Friends center will offer complementary programs to existing local and regional animal service organizations and to traditional and nontraditional sheltering services, according to the release.
"The pet resource center's approach to outreach, training and education will redefine conventional practices to animal care," Becca Hazlewood, Walton Family Foundation program officer, said in the release. "By serving as a regional hub, the center has the potential to elevate care for pets in Northwest Arkansas and also serve as a model to communities across the country."
Philanthropic support from foundations, corporate partners and donors will fund the center's development, according to the release. The projected opening date is fall 2021, the release stated.
Best Friends has been in Northwest Arkansas for three years and leads the NWA PAW coalition. The group is comprised of 25 partner animal welfare agencies with a mission to use collaborative public and private partnerships to build and sustain no-kill communities, the release stated.
Best Friends, founded in 1984, runs programs in partnership with more than 2,800 animal welfare groups across the country, according to the release. Best Friends has regional centers in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Salt Lake City, and operates the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, according to the release.
The city shelter will offer pet adoptions common at most animal shelters across the country. There also will be programming geared to pet owners and potential pet owners. A small area for cats is planned, Wright said. A site for the city shelter hasn't been selected, he said.
The new city shelter is expected to cost more than what the city pays Centerton, Wright said. The city paid $300,000 up front for three years so Centerton could expand its shelter to handle Bentonville animals, Debbie Griffin, city community relations and economic development director, previously said.
The contract with Bentonville runs through 2021, Centerton Mayor Bill Edwards has said. The Centerton shelter added 55 kennels and now has 73. Bentonville usually brings 25 to 28 dogs to the shelter a month, he said.
NW News on 12/10/2019