Most of the animals that were displaced as flood waters made their way into Faulkner County have gone home after a brief stay at an emergency shelter. However, a few dogs still need to be claimed.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals arrived in Conway two weeks ago to aid the Faulkner County Animal Response Team in its rescue efforts.
FCART opened the county’s first-ever emergency animal shelter on May 25. The ASPCA stepped in to offer further assistance on June 3.
The emergency shelter is now closed and the ASPCA is moving out today. One family will pick up the last group pets that have been claimed by their owners from the FCART’s care on Saturday. However, seven pups that have not been claimed will go to an out-of-state shelter that agreed to care for the dogs. Another dog who had puppies just before she was rescued is being cared at a separate facility.
Some of the animals that have left the emergency animal shelter have been temporarily re-homed while their owners pick up the pieces of their severely damaged homes.
ASPCA Disaster Response Senior Director Dick Green said some Faulkner County residents had severely-damaged homes and needed “more time to get back on their feet,” so other local families were asked to step up as foster homes until these families are able to bring their pets back home.
No pet owners relinquished their pets to the ASPCA or FCART. Since all of these owners have (or are scheduled to pick up) picked up their pets or opted for temporary care, officials are working to find care for animals that were not claimed after rescues were conducted.
Green said the animal groups cared for three sets of animals – ones they knew who the owners were; animals that were brought in by residents who did not know who the owners were; and those that were rescued.
“Nobody [who brought us their own pets] has said ‘we can’t take them back.’ We got really, really luck down that road. They all went back to their owners,” Green told the Log Cabin Democrat onsite at the emergency animal shelter. “Then we have those animals that other people brought in where we didn’t know the owners. The third category is what we rescued in the field. We would get a call to our toll-free number and someone would say, ‘I just saw a dog or a cat that was swimming in a barn.’”
Photos of the unclaimed, rescued pets have been posted on multiple social media sites, Green said. The ASPCA can only care for the animals for 30 days, meaning their adoption availability is nearing.
Because many of the pets made their way into the facility on June 7, they will be eligible for adoption on July 5. Between now and then, pet owners are still able to claim and pick up their pets.
The dog who had a litter of nine puppies shortly before she was rescued is being cared for nearby at Heart of a Dog Rescue and Adoption, Greens said.
The remaining seven pups will go to the Wisconsin Humane Society, who volunteered to foster the animals and then adopt them out if they go unclaimed.
Altogether, the emergency shelter cared for nearly 100 animals in the 25 days it was active. At its peak, it housed 70 animals at once.
Green said he feels the operations at the shelter ran as smoothly as possible. While the facility had a “tough start,” the ASPCA helped provide large-scale resources needed to make the center a success.
“I’m an old school teacher. I would give it an A-,” he said. “That’s not so bad for a disaster. The only reason it wasn’t an A is because it was such a tough start for the local community.”
Local volunteers “were overwhelmed so quickly” by the amount of animals in need of shelter, Green said.
Initially, FCART volunteer Catherine Swift had told the Log Cabin the facility, which was located at the Faulkner County Rodeo Arena by the Don Owen Sports Center in Conway, was large enough to house 100 animals, but also that she did not expect that many to need shelter.
“No one would have thought that so many animals would have come at them so quickly,” Green said, adding that the center quickly began filling up as the flood waters continued rising. “When you get overwhelmed like that, it’s hard to catch up. It took us a few extra days to get caught up.”
Overall, the local volunteers “did an amazing job.”
“If there’s a silver lining [it’s that] they were able to get it running and then they saw how a bigger group can do it. And we want to be fair, we have a lot of resources, you can’t compare a national organization to a local firm. They got two weeks to work side-by-side with us, I think it’s going to make them so much stronger next time,” Green said.
San Diego Humane Society volunteers also helped run the Faulkner County emergency animal shelter during the historic 2019 Arkansas River Flood.
The emergency shelter available to Faulkner County residents affected by the flooding event has also closed.
Officials said the Don Owen Sports Center will re-open for public use by Saturday.
“With the Red Cross Shelter closing down, we will be spending the next few days preparing the sports center ot open back up to the public on Saturday,” officials said. “We want to thank everyone for their help, cooperation, and patience over these last few weeks.”