Good Shepherd sends 31 dogs to out-of-state shelters
By Samantha Jones
Good Shepherd Humane Society is dedicated to finding animals a home, even if it's in another state.
On Wednesday, Dec. 18, assistant shelter manager Cole Wakefield said the shelter transferred 21 dogs to shelters in Montana and Michigan over the past month. Many of those dogs had been at the shelter for more than a year, Wakefield said, making it necessary to find them homes outside of Carroll County.
Because of the transports, Wakefield said, the average time a dog spends at Good Shepherd has decreased from 551 days to 95 days. Wakefield said long-term animals are those that have been at the shelter for more than six months, saying the shelter has gone from having 28 long-term dogs to just five in two months.
"Ideally, two months would be where we get everybody into a home," Wakefield said. "That's what we're shooting for –– to report that we never had a dog in here for a year and a half."
Wakefield said he's been working on an animal transport policy, which would include benchmarks the animals must meet during their stay at Good Shepherd. After a certain amount of time, Wakefield said, an animal will be named Pet of the Week and featured in a video on Good Shepherd's social media account.
"We'll have to do whatever we can to help that animal," Wakefield said, "whether it's here or somewhere else. We cannot let an animal sit in the back."
Board president Jay Fusaro said Good Shepherd could partner with nearby shelters to execute more successful transports.
"We may not have 10 dogs to go at one time," Fusaro said, "but maybe if we partner with somebody like Huntsville, they can help offset the cost and we can help move some of their dogs and some of our dogs."
"We are definitely taking a more regional approach to the problem," Wakefield said. "Stray dogs don't stop at the county line. We're looking at working with the Northwest Arkansas coalition. We want to work together to help all these animals out."
Shelter manager Chelsea Gahr said Good Shepherd could consider swapping animals with other shelters.
"If we can find a shelter that's close by that would be willing to swap cats every once in a while," Gahr said, "that would help big time, because a lot of the time, new faces help."
Fusaro said Good Shepherd is starting over on its wait list and Wakefield said that's the best course of action. If someone has an animal on the wait list and hasn't called in months, Wakefield said, they've likely decided to keep the animal. Wakefield said Good Shepherd has brought in 44 dogs since October, saying many of these dogs came to the shelter in emergency situations.
"We work best as a place for emergent situations," Wakefield said. "We need to maintain open kennels and space for those emergencies and those animals that have no alternatives. That's how we're trying to position ourselves."
Transports are not meant to shove responsibility onto another shelter, Fusaro said. Gahr said many shelters in other parts of the country need animals because of strict spay and neuter laws. Good Shepherd only transports animals to shelters that share its no-kill policy, Gahr said.
"The shelter always knows we'll take the dog back if anything happens," Gahr said. "We'll come and pick our dog up. I've actually taken back two different dogs already."
Wakefield said it's a no-brainer to transport animals to shelters where they have a better chance of getting adopted.
"The bottom line is it's in the best interest of the dogs," Wakefield said.
"And we were able to bring in 44 animals that would have been euthanized or on the streets," Fusaro added.
Thrift store manager Janet Chupp had a message for the community.
"If anyone has a problem with us moving these animals out," Chupp said, "they need to start lobbying for spay and neuter."
The board moved on to hear the thrift store report, with Chupp saying the Berryville store has seen a massive improvement over the past month. The store has been completely reorganized, Chupp said, and it looks better than ever.
"Now that we removed those racks, we have so much more room and diversity," Chupp said.
Treasurer Mark Minton presented the financial report, saying year-to-date income stands at $339,006 compared to a budgeted $316,794. The thrift shop revenue is $4,771 over budget, Minton said, and total fundraising revenue is $6,820 under budget. Minton said year-to-date expenses are $341,334 compared with a budgeted $322,151.
The board's next regular meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at the meet and greet room at the shelter.