Animal dumping: Local officials say spaying, neutering would prevent problem
By Samantha Jones
In an Aug. 28 post on Lost and Found Pets of Carroll County on Facebook, a local woman writes asking for help rescuing about 20 kittens and cats that were left to starve on the outskirts of Berryville.
Linda Winter, who is involved in the rescue, said she hopes the incident will encourage people to stop dumping their animals. Winter said she’s been involved with the rescue, saying the rescue team believes there are more than 20 cats and kittens involved in the dump.
“They are not feral and they have been left to starve,” Winter said.
The cats were first discovered when a local woman pulled over to help a couple from Michigan who were stopped on the side of the road, Winter said.
“They were running around all skinny and everyone was horrified,” Winter said. “The people who were here from Michigan actually took one of the cats back home with them.”
Winter said one of the cats had what appeared to be a broken leg. The cat was named Shadow, Winter said, and she hoped her leg could be amputated. Winter said she’s had lots of happy, healthy three-legged cats. Unfortunately, Shadow will never be one of those cats. Winter said Shadow was diagnosed with a broken hip and would never be able to use her back legs.
“She also had nerve damage. She was so sweet. It was just awful,” Winter said. “We decided we had to put her to sleep because she was suffering.”
Shadow was the most injured of all the cats and kittens, Winter said, but those animals still need medical attention. Winter said St. Francis Veterinary Clinic has created a fund in Shadow’s memory so people can donate to help spay, neuter and care for the remaining animals.
“This whole thing goes back to spaying and neutering,” Winter said. “If people would just spay and neuter their animals, this wouldn’t happen.”
Green Forest animal control officer Verlin Griggs agreed with that, saying cats can produce up to three litters a year and those kittens can begin producing their own litters within four months of being born. That could mean hundreds of kittens in a short period of time, Griggs said.
“It is a big problem in the city and it seems like the problem is getting worse more and more each year,” Griggs said. “The reason is people are not getting their animals fixed and they’re allowing them to have these kittens and these puppies, and when they have them, they can’t get rid of them so they dump them.”
Griggs remembered when several puppies were dumped in the city this past winter. A couple of the puppies died before anyone could help them, Griggs said, and the puppies that survived were sent to an animal rescue in Colorado.
“Luckily we had a place for them to go,” Griggs said, “and luckily we had a place to house them until we could get them there.”
Griggs acknowledged some people might have a hard time paying to get their animals spayed or neutered but said it costs a lot more if you’re caught and fined for dumping them. The fine right now is $1,000 or one year in jail, Griggs said.
“It’s very frustrating, because there are options out there. The most simple solution is to spay and neuter,” Griggs said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than getting caught dumping your animals.”
The city of Green Forest is willing to work with people who need to get their animals spayed or neutered, Griggs said.
“We will do our best to help them out. I’m not saying we can help everybody, but we will try,” Griggs said.
He can’t help when animals are dumped outside Green Forest city limits, Griggs said.
“It’s a little harder for people in the county, because there’s no animal control or facility out there,” Griggs said. “The only facility they have available is Good Shepherd Humane Society.”
Winter agreed, saying Good Shepherd Humane Society doesn’t receive any funding from the state or local government.
“I moved here in 1989 and they weren’t giving them anything then,” Winter said, “and they still don’t give them anything.”
Carroll County Judge Sam Barr said he’s upset to hear people would leave animals on the side of the road to die.
“I think it’s a shame anybody would dump anything to starve,” Barr said. “They’re animals. They need shelter. They need something to eat and drink.”
It would be up to the Carroll County Quorum Court to do something about it, Barr said.
“They are the lawmakers of the county. It’s something that needs to be done,” Barr said, “but whether they have the money, I’m not sure.”
The problem isn’t entirely up to Carroll County to solve, Griggs said. It’s important for the state of Arkansas to pass animal cruelty laws that have teeth, Griggs said, so local law enforcement can crack down on people who dump animals.
“There’s a lot of states that have a better support system than what we’ve got here,” Griggs said. “Right now, I have a better support system than I did when I first started, but it took all this time to get that support.”
Griggs continued, “It’s going to take time and effort. It’s going to take everybody, animal control and civilians working together to try to work this out where we don’t have this problem anymore.”
Berryville animal control officer Chuck Stubbs said he’s picked up a few litters of puppies this year and reiterated how important it is to spay and neuter your animals.
“That way, you don’t have an unexpected bunch of dogs and cats you don’t want nothin’ to do with,” Stubbs said. “There are spay and neuter programs available. Good Shepherd has a pretty good low-income spay and neuter program.”
Stubbs said he takes all the dogs and cats that are dumped in Berryville city limits to Unconditional Pet Rescue in Eureka Springs.
“There are places out there to help,” Stubbs said.
Eureka Springs animal control officer Jim Evans said he doesn’t find dumped animals very often but he knows it happens often in the county. A bigger problem in Eureka Springs, Evans said, is people feeding stray cats that go on to breed “like rats.” Spaying and neutering would solve both problems, Evans said.
“You have to be a conscientious pet owner,” Evans said. “Unfortunately, there are people who have pets that have no business with them. If you need them spayed or neutered, Good Shepherd does that very reasonably.”
Good Shepherd Humane Society shelter manager Sandra Mittler said the shelter has taken in many animals that have been dumped over the years. Sometimes, Mittler said, the shelter can’t take in any new animals because there are already so many.
“Almost every shelter I know is working from a waiting list, because there’s more need than there is space,” Mittler said.
That’s why dumping is such a huge problem, Mittler said.
“It is horrific on so many levels. It affects the animals. It affects the people who have picked them up,” Mittler said, “and it affects the shelter. It definitely puts a strain on our resources.”
Mittler continued, “It makes it hard for us to serve the community, because it just adds length to our waiting list. It’s something that really affects the entire community. We need to be promoting spaying and neutering so there’s not a lot of unwanted litters out there being dumped.”
Mittler said Good Shepherd offers a low-cost spay and neuter program, saying there’s a discount just for being a Carroll County resident and an even steeper discount for low-income residents.
“It’s a community problem and it’s going to take the community to solve it,” Mittler said. “It’s very frustrating for the people who are finding these animals. The shelters are full. What are they going to do? They’re kindhearted and want to help.”
Those who would like to help the most recently dumped litter of cats and kittens can call St. Francis Veterinary Clinic at 870-423-2630 to donate to Shadow’s Memorial Fund and those who would like to spay and neuter their animals can call Good Shepherd Humane Society at 479-253-9188 to learn more about the spay and neuter program.