Become a foster family to animals needing homes
West Memphis Animal Shelter loses ‘no-kill’ status, adoptions at all-time low
By DON WILBURN
It takes a village to raise a child is an expression everyone is familiar with, but perhaps that sentiment should be extended to include the animals in the West Memphis and surrounding communities as well. In a bit of disconcerting news the West Memphis Animal Shelter has lost its status as a “nokill” shelter. “We never had to put dogs down for space until ten to twelve months ago.” says Shelter Director and former nurse Kelly Facello, “I never thought we would have to do that. For many years, at least seven of the past ten that I have been here, we were categorized as no-kill shelter.”
A no-kill shelter is defined as one that euthanizes less than ten percent of the animals it takes in, which is to say it releases or finds homes for ninety percent Facello told us. Of the 1,484 animals the shelter took in in 2022, 126 had to be put down for various reasons.
“People don’t understand what goes into making those decisions” said Facello, “We spend 60 hours a week caring for them and it is the same people that have to make that decision. It’s soul sucking. We are devastated. Yet people want to rake you over the coals for it.”
Animal intake is at at alltime high according to Facello and that after Covid the animal population “just exploded.” When asked how
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This handsome guy may be the best dog in the shelter! This is Riddick, a one year old pitty mix male. Riddick is other- dog-friendly and came from a home with children. He sits on command and is playful. He has medium energy level and so very pleasant to be around. Riddick is heartworm negative and ready for his forever home!!
Photo Courtesy of WM Animal Shelter SHELTER
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Covid was related Facello said that during the pandemic and lockdowns many people decided they had time to take care of an animal and adoptions were at an all-time high. Shelter’s across the country were empty, but that when people began returning to work many of the animals were abandoned and ended up at the shelters again.
Facello is calling on the local community to do their part and understand that the shelter is often overburdened with requests. It’s not just a few strays they are called to pick up, she says, but that they assist nearly all city departments; Police, Fire, the Post Office, Utilities all come into contact with animals that need sheltering.
In an unfortunate situation that went viral just last week the shelter was called to pick up three cats that were placed in a five gallon paint bucket.
“It was over 24 hours before the call came in to pick them up” laments Facello “The paint inside was dry but there was very little ventilation and in the heat the kittens were still expose to the fumes. We lost two of them and one is still touch and go. We are sure the man who put them there and called had the best intentions, but he didn’t realize what he was doing. This is an ongoing problem. There are thousands of kittens born all over the city every week but people still refuse to let us alter their pets. They refuse to spay or neuter. We have four clinics a year for this and almost no one comes. Many we do practically for free.”
But it wasn’t all bad news. When asked what the local community could do to help Facello mentioned that she was thankful for the constant donations from the community. The shelter is always in need of cleaning supplies, snacks, blankets, towels, food etc but that one of the best things would be for more people to participate in the shelter’s foster program.
The foster program places animals with temporary homes for usually two weeks to a month until a “forever home” can be found. Many end up adopting the animal in question, but that is completely by choice. The shelter provides everything needed to the foster family during the animal’s stay including crates, bedding, food, etc.
Joyce Meyer and her husband Brian of West Memphis are one such foster family who have been participating in the program for over four years.
“I always have dogs at my house. Including my own a pit and a chihuahua. I take in probably sixty or seventy a year. These animals need our love. Of course I sometimes want to keep one, but if I did that I wouldn’t be able to help the others. I love seeing when they find a loving family and often ask for follow up photos. It’s just a fabulous program that more people should get into. Our house is always full of love.”
Anyone interested in participating in the foster program, making donations, or having their pet spayed or neutered may get more information by contacting the shelter at (870) 732-7599. The next spaying neutering clinic will be held on June 13, 14, and 15.
Would you wook at dat pwecious widdle fache?
Photos courtesy of WM Animal Shelter
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