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Shelter, rescue groups see increase in pet abandonment

Inflation, lack of pet knowledge cited as factors by Mallory Wyatt | June 30, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
A female dog found at an abandoned property looks at the camera Wednesday, June 29, 2022, at the Animal Care and Adoption Center in Texarkana, Ark. "Most likely, she was dumped in the area," animal control officer Jordan Laxton said. "When we found her, she was really extremely emaciated and very unhealthy looking. She's getting a lot better now." (Staff photo by Mallory Wyatt)

TEXARKANA, Ark. -- Animal shelters and rescue groups on both sides of the state line say a combination of factors -- from inflation to lack of pet knowledge -- are fueling the surrendering and abandoning of dogs on both sides of the state line.

Since January, the Animal Care and Adoption Center has taken in 14 abandoned dogs and had 50 surrendered.

"We do have a lot of calls where people just don't want to take care of them anymore," shelter director Lenor Teague said. "(They say) I just can't afford them. I don't have time for them."

Teague said if her shelter is full, more than likely local rescue groups are too.

Susan Moore, leader of local organization Fix TXK, agreed.

"We are overfilled and scrambling here daily," Moore said. "It's worse up north, where the rescue groups get sent dogs from here."

Moore said in May, the local Greg King's Canine Recovery rescued 49 dogs and Michigan-based rescue organization Unleashed Love received 70 dogs from Texarkana.

Inflation somewhat factors in the relinquishing of pets, Moore said.

"Of course inflation makes it more difficult to buy food, take (your pet) to vet," Moore said. "I do think people know rescues will take over their problems and they will take advantage of that. I've (helped others who are struggling) many times even though we are struggling too."

Teague said while the shelter provides a bag of dog to those struggling to feed their pets, she would welcome a community resource, like a food bank for dogs.

"It would be great to have one, especially for the community that can't afford (food)."

Fix TXK assists with getting pets spayed or neutered at a subsidized cost or for free. Moore would like to see more people take advantage of the service.

"When they can get their pets spayed and neutered free of charge and they don't,that kind of says it all," said Moore, adding that neglecting the procedure leads to the birth of more dogs that may end up abandoned.

Teague said the adoption center educates the potential adopter on the demands of owning an animal.

"Children are excited about getting a dog, cat, whatever the case may be, and of course parents say, 'This is your responsibility,'" Teague said. "Then they get home and a month or two down the road and the honeymoon is over. Parents are like, 'Okay, well, you're not going to take care of this dog, and we're going to get rid of it.'"

Teague said new owners can be unaware of the time and expense of caring for a pet.

"On top of the vaccinations, the spay and neuters, there's just a huge responsibility," she said. "They can't just chain them up to a stationary object outside. They have to be on a runner; they have to have food and water and shelter."

The Animal Care and Adoption Center will hold another microchip event in the near future, where 200 free microchips can be registered to Texarkana residents. The center held a microchipping event on Saturday that saw 55 Arkansas residents and 42 Texas residents get their pets registered.

Teague also recommends the groups Animal Protection League of Texarkana and Texarkana Animal League to those who may need subsidized spaying and neutering of pets.

"PetSmart Charities is committed to supporting people and pets, helping to keep them together, especially in times of need," said Amber Schlaefer, PetSmart's public relations specialist.

"The organization has funded programs to support pet food insecurity -- including a partnership with Feeding America to include pet food in both Texas and Arkansas -- and by funding the United Way 211 Pets Eat Too program," Schlaefer said.

"By dialing 211, people can speak with operators in Fayetteville and Little Rock who can help connect them with no-cost pet food and supplies," Schlaefer said.

Schlaefer said people also can search on the PetSmart Charities website to locate no-cost to low-cost spay and neuter clinics, many of which may offer additional low-cost basic care services.



photo An Arkansas ordinance sign is seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022, outside the Animal Care and Adoption Center in Texarkana, Ark. Abandonment of an animal is illegal. Anyone caught abandoning an animal may be fined up to $1,000 and/or be sentenced to a year in jail. (Staff photo by Mallory Wyatt)

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