Leader Blues

Friday, October 10, 2008

TOP STORY > >Beebe animal shelter will start euthanizing

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

For about two years, Beebe Animal Control working with a rescue group in Texas has shipped to states in the east most of the unwanted dogs picked up in Beebe. As a result, about 350 dogs have found new homes and the city has the reputation of running a no-kill shelter.

But during a special council meeting Thursday night, Mayor Mike Robertson got the council’s blessings to change that perception.

Although no firm date has been set for euthanizations to start, the mayor told the council that the shelter is currently holding roughly twice the dozen dogs that can comfortably be housed there and Horace Taylor, the animal control officer, has refused to pick up dogs when residents call.

Robertson explained that the dogs must be certified healthy before they can be shipped out of state but with the close quarters at the shelter there is no room to quarantine sick animals.

So if one comes in with an infec tion, more become infected; shipping is delayed, and the shelter becomes overfilled.

Robertson said that although he supports the concept of rescuing dogs rather than euthanizing them, medical experts have told him that euthanization is the best plan until a better shelter is built.

The city council has agreed that a new shelter should be constructed in the spring with the proceeds from the city 1.8 mil real estate tax, which should bring in $50,000 to $60,000.

The mayor told the council that he has been reluctant to discuss problems at the shelter because it is a delicate one with the potential of causing problems for the city.

For about four months, he has been monitoring Internet sites where Beebe Animal Control is discussed and he knew from those sites that the situation was becoming volatile.

The volunteers who work to rescue impounded dogs and find new homes for them in the east have exaggerated the poor conditions at the shelter when soliciting donations, he said.

On Thursday, he fired a part- time worker at the shelter after she emailed the director of the Beebe Chamber of Commerce criticizing the city for not building the shelter now.

Her job was to work 19 hours a week cleaning the cages, not “saying when things should be done and how they should be done,” Robertson said.

He also warned the council that euthanizing dogs could potentially bring the wrath of animal-rights advocates down on the city, but the council backed his decision to proceed as necessary.

“I just wanted you to know, here we go,” the mayor said.