As most of you know, our Sebastian County Humane Societ is in need of serious help right now. Rath Auto Resources is now an official drop off location for donations of cat litter, dry dog food, dry cat food, treats and pet beds until August 31st. Please bring them by and help our shelter as it faces the potential of a shut down due to finances.
Featured: Lizzy Rath - Siberian Husky adopted from the Sebastian County Humane Society in 2012.
Location: 4515 Towson Avenue, Fort Smith, Arkansas.
"Citing a decline in donations, the struggling Sebastian County Humane Society is in danger of permanently shutting down next month, according to its executive director.
“We now have $3,000 left in our account,” Executive Director JoAnn Barton said, “and it had $250,000 in it this time last year.”
A third of the nonprofit organization’s $60,000-a-month operating costs come from impound contracts with Fort Smith, Sebastian County and Crawford County, Barton said. Another 10 percent comes from adoption fees. The lion’s share, she added, comes from the community.
“Donations are down,” she said. “We struggle with what we have.”
The shelter doors at 3800 Kelley Highway could close within the next 30 days without intervention, Barton said.
“Fundraisers are not enough,” she said. “People need to give, and they have to make it a regular donation. People need to dig deep down and ask themselves why they can’t give. I don’t know what the answer is.”
To stay afloat, the shelter has over the years relied on dwindling funds from a savings account.
“We are a safe place for dogs and cats and other animals to be brought to, and it would be a very scary thing to not have the shelter here.” Humane Society Special Programs Coordinator Amber Neal said. “We need that community involvement and donations to survive.”
The Humane Society has been operating in Sebastian County since 1937. Today, the shelter houses an estimated 7,000 pets and potential pets a year, holding 300-400 animals on any given day. The Humane Society takes in stray dogs and cats, injured animals and pets whose owners are either unwilling or unable to take care of them. Also on the intake list are rats, rabbits, ferrets, horses and other animals in need of shelter.
Fundraisers are periodically held to support the Humane Society. Earlier this month, a canine beauty pageant called Cause of Paws Bark-b-que raised $20,000, according to Humane Society leaders. Another event taking place this month is the Fort Changers 5K, a charity race in which participants can donate food, cat litter and other supplies to the Humane Society. It will be held on Aug. 29.
The city of Fort Smith spends an estimated $300,000 each year to house its strays at the Humane Society.
Should the Humane Society close, the animals will be transferred to other outlets for adoption, Barton said. PetSmart, for example, has a charity program called Rescue Waggin’ in which animals from closed or overcrowded shelters are relocated to other areas for adoption.
By Thomas Saccente
Times Record • firstname.lastname@example.org