Free roaming strays beat building new shelter

This just in from Arkansas, where the Helena West animal shelter director has decided that letting his city’s strays run free in the National Forest beats more complicated measures, such as caring for them or trying to arrange for them to be adopted out

Ark. city releases shelter dogs into forest

LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Unable and unwilling to keep abandoned dogs in a dilapidated shelter, the city of Helena-West Helena is taking strays to a national forest and leaving them on the side of the road.

“They are better off free,” Mayor James Valley said Thursday. “Pardon the pun, but it was just something that was dogging us. So it would be easier for us until we get a facility and have a plan that we just not be in the animal shelter business.”

But the St. Francis National Forest isn’t in the animal shelter business, either.

“In the code, it is illegal to release animals, livestock or abandoned personal property on national forest land,” spokeswoman Tracy Farley said.

Valley said the city’s animal shelter was so run down that a regional humane society worker cut its locks last winter and released all the dogs. The city then temporarily moved its shelter to four uncovered pens at the city sanitation department.

After people complained the animals were still not properly cared for, the mayor decided the animals would be better off in the forest. The city street director on Wednesday took about 10 dogs to the forest after feeding and watering them. About three dogs were kept to be put down by a veterinarian, Valley said.

He said the city would need $50,000 to $60,000 to open a new animal shelter — and also must enforce existing animal-control laws.

“We have a leash law that we’ve been trying to work our way into enforcing. It’s been so lax,” the mayor said. “People are not buying leashes or tags for the animals. We could literally pick up every other dog in the city.”

If animal-control officers get a call now, “they’re going to pick the dog up and probably just take them to the other side of town,” Valley said. “And it’s going to be someone else’s problem. … or maybe they will take them to the forest.”

You’d like to believe this is just a joke, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately, here’s a video clip just to back up how surreal-ly real this story is.