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Rescue groups cite limits in partnership with Texas-side animal services

by Mallory Wyatt | May 21, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.
Two dogs greet a worker Tuesday, May 17, 2022, inside the Texarkana, Texas, animal services' temporary holding facility. (Staff photo by Mallory Wyatt)

TEXARKANA, Texas -- A Texarkana code officer says the city is working to keep a tight leash on stray dogs.

Part of that effort includes collaborating with local rescue groups, zoning administrator Laura Puckett said.

"We use Dawn Smith. There's Christina Tutt, Midnight Run Rescue and Mimi with Muttley Crew."

However, only one rescue group has confirmed it has worked with the city so far this year to find homes for dogs.

"I received a litter of seven puppies earlier this year. On average, I receive about 20 dogs a year, but it often varies," said Tutt, president of Texarkana Animal Coalition Team.

In 2021, the city took in 676 animals, according to an earlier Gazette report.

Dawn Smith, of Passion for Pooches, said she doesn't receive many animals from the city.

"I rarely get dogs sent to me from there. The last one I received was on December 8, 2021, I maybe get three a year, maybe four at most," said Smith, who keeps her records for 10 years.

The city had asked Smith to take a dog on Jan. 1, 2022, but she had no room to house the animal.

Smith said dogs she has received from the city's unmarked kennel at West Fourth and Oak streets often reeked of urine and feces.

"All of them are absolutely disgusting when they come out of there," she said.

Mimi Campbell of Muttley Crew rescues German shepherds and German shepherd mixes. She keeps electronic records of adoption paperwork, contracts and microchip information.

"They contacted me more times than I was able to take a dog, because I'm a really small rescue, but if I did have room, they were really good to work with me," Campbell said of the city.

Campbell said the city last contacted her in 2020.

Jeff Tarpley of Jeff Tarpley Rescue said he had not received a dog from the city in at least five years. He had also never heard of the Texas-side kennel.

The majority of rescue organizations expressed concern over the lack of teeth in spay and neuter laws and the abandoning of dogs. Several also said while appreciated, Texas' no-chain law, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, has moved some owners to allow their dogs to run loose.

Dogs picked up by animal services are taken to the kennel, which is near Texarkana Public Library.

"After three days, if there's no identification, they become property of the city. They're either adopted out, or they're sent to a rescue, or you know, they're euthanized. That's our three options," said the city's chief code enforcer Mashell Daniel.

Daniel, who said the city doesn't have the personnel to staff the kennel around the clock, allowed the Gazette to tour the facility Tuesday. The kennel has seven cages with room for roaming. Five dogs were being housed, one per cage, and each had a bucket of water and a bowl of food.

Windows on the unmarked facility are blacked out, and there is a unit attached for the Fire Department's arson evidence.

Tutt was also along for the walkthrough. It was her first time at the kennel.

"I don't know where animals go after the intake, I don't have a lot of time. My best guess is adoption, a rescue group or euthanization," she said.

Local animal rescue advocates Amy Wurtele and Dianne Hand had never picked up any dogs from the facility, with only Wurtele knowing the kennel existed.

The kennel is routinely inspected by local veterinarian Dr. Joanna Pridgen, who "schedules an appointment, brings the checklist, checks for water, food, and ventilation and that the animals are separated by age and sex." She submits her findings to the Texas Department of Health Services.

Smith said she hopes for improvement in the city's animal services. She described an incident of a dog that was hit and lying on U.S. Highway 59 for four hours. Smith said after animal control didn't arrive in what she considered to be a timely manner, she took it upon herself to save the animal.

"His pelvis was crushed. We were going to take him to be euthanized so he wouldn't be suffering anymore, but when you pick a dog up with a fractured pelvis and a broken leg and he still wags his tail, you have to save him."

photo A tan-and-white stays curled up in the corner of its kennel Tuesday, May 17, 2022, inside the Texarkana, Texas, animal services' temporary holding facility. (Staff photo by Mallory Wyatt)
photo The Texarkana, Texas Animal Services' Temporary Holding facility for dogs, photo taken on May 17 2022. Staff Photo by Mallory Wyatt

Print Headline: Rescue groups cite limits in partnership with Texas-side animal services

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