Future of animal shelter looks bright

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Last week, 120 animals were euthanized but only 15 were adopted from the Texarkana Animal Care and Adoption Center.

A 90 percent kill-rate at the shelter is unacceptable to Arkansas City Manager Harold Boldt who just formed a Shelter Advisory Board to examine what can be done to better the odds for homeless animals that wind up there.

Boldt appointed Debbie Brower chairwoman of the board, which hopes to eventually establish new policies and build a new, no-kill animal shelter in Texarkana. Both sides of Texarkana support the animal shelter, but the Arkansas-side is responsible for operating the facility.

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The Shelter Advisory Board members were chosen for different purposes, Brower said. Like most advisory boards, variety works best because each member can bring her own expertise to the table.

“There is definitely a need for knowledgeable people from many different aspects of business. We need people on a committee involved not only in rescues, but marketing, legal issues, fundraising experience, and general public knowledge,” Brower said. “The committee includes people who work full-time jobs (sometimes many) and then help where needed. They are MBA’s, nurses, business owners. They sacrifice their time, money and efforts to help,” she said.

Debbie BrowerThe board members will include:

  • Debbie Brower will be the board chair. Brower is the owner of ALT Magazine and Image Forward Photography. She is a former court reporter and legal assistant and has a master’s degree in marketing. She also is involved in helping various organizations in the Texarkana area.
  • Jaclyn Gooding will be the Board Secretary. She is the Associate Editor for ALT Magazine and is the manager of Legendary Firearms and Legendary Shooting Sports – Paintball.

“We both have been involved in helping all of the rescues, as well as the shelter, for quite some time,” Brower said. “We have the ability to market the information through the magazine, which will help tremendously. We also have the knowledge and ability to work Facebook and other social media, as well as design websites that actually work and tell the public what it wants and needs to know. We have been rescuing pets from the shelter for some time now, and have fostered them as well. Jaclyn’s management and research skills are an absolute necessity.”

  • Jennifer Hubbe-Jones will be the Vice-Chair. She visits the shelter almost daily and has worked with and fosters animals for the Texarkana Animal League.

Brower said Hubbe-Jones was one of the people who initially made the deteriorating conditions at the shelter known to her and caused her to become involved.

“She knows a lot about the procedures happening at the shelter. She has been pulling puppies that are positive for parvo and nursing them back to health. She has been a wonderful resource for letting us know the procedures that are not being adhered to and need to be changed. She also knows the problems with the crumbling shelter since she sees them on a regular basis. She is also a business owner in Texarkana,” Brower said.

  • Karen Goodwin is the owner of Little Paws Rescue, a local rescue here in Texarkana. She has been involved in rescue for many years, and created her own rescue last year. She has pledged to rescue as many pets from the shelter as possible.
  • Amanda Coe is a foster mom for Little Paws Rescue. She is also one of the Administrators of the Shelter/Rescue Facebook page that is helping get the animals some attention from the shelter. Coe visits the shelter regularly to take photos and posts the ones taken by others, spending hours working social media. She has worked in public education for six years, accounting, and is currently an auditor. Her financial expertise will help the committee with budgetary concerns and fundraising efforts.
  • Anita McCullough is a business owner and helps with and fosters for Passion for Pooches, as well as a foster group in Little Rock. She has business knowledge from owning her own business and contacts that will be integral for the board to succeed.
  • Carri Blackwood is a Texarkana, Ark., resident, who has owned her own business in downtown Texarkana, and she fosters for Passion for Pooches. She specializes in fostering dogs with emotional issues, such as abuse, no social skills, or fear-based aggression.
  • Suzy Hlavinka has been active in rescue for years. She works closely with the Texarkana Animal League, helping them the group with fundraising and other efforts. She has researched and spoken to others in cities across the country about similar problems to that of Texarkana’s and will be integral in helping get things done. In addition, Hlavinka has been very involved with many non-profit groups throughout the city in their fundraising and volunteer efforts. She knows a lot of people in Texarkana who can and will be willing to help us. She has done extensive research in “No-Kill Shelters” and will be essential in helping implement that at the Texarkana shelter.

Brower said all the board members were chosen not only for their knowledge, but for their contact base.

“We need people of all professions and socio-economic statuses to help us reach our goals. The board’s goals are to improve the conditions at our current shelter until we can find help from the public and/or get grants to build a new facility,” she said.

“I understand that the City has land available if the money for the building can be raised. We will be working on raising awareness of the needs. One of the main problems at the shelter is management. There is little marketing at this point being done, very few – if any – events where the public can see the pets without having to go to the shelter. The shelter is essentially crumbling down. Its condition is horrible. No pet should have to experience that. The kill rate remains at about 90 percent. A no-kill shelter has a 90 percent save rate, with only those dogs that are vicious or very sick being euthanized.”

In the very near future, the advisory board hopes to implement a marketing program to encourage a spay/neuter program and pet micro-chipping for pets.

“Those are programs we hope to institute soon, that will be affordable, so that people will actually do it. Until we stop the flow of pets going into the shelter by spaying and neutering, we won’t be able to correct the problem,” Brower said. “I hate it when people tell me that they just hadn’t spayed or neutered their pet because they just hadn’t thought about it.”

Volunteers also are going to be an essential part of the program.

“If anyone would like to volunteer, they can send their name, contact info, including email and phone number, to jaclyn@legendaryshootingsports.com. We are making lists of volunteers who we will be using to send volunteer opportunities to. And there will be plenty!” Brower said.

 

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