*Note: Animals accounted for in the following information provided includes dogs, cats, raccoons, deer, opossums, skunks, rabbits, beavers and other wildlife.
After widespread claims from a local rescue shelter of radically increased euthanasia at Hot Springs Animal Services, the department has provided annual statistics on intake, adoption and euthanasia rates, as well as insight on how the community can help.
With more animals coming in, HS Animal Services Director Sergeant Chris Adkins said more euthanizations are conducted. The numbers provided by HS Animal Services, dating back to 2011, show increased animal intake correlating with increased euthanasia, and vice versa. Check it out, here:
Since the start of 2022, 701 animals have been impounded, 214 have been adopted, 95 have been reclaimed and 292 have been euthanized.
“With more animals coming in, it leads to more euthanizations,” Adkins said. “You have a slow adoption rate or reclaim rate, then they sit here — rescues are full, they can't take anymore. So ultimately it’s what you have to do.
“It's unfortunate, but it's — we hold on as long as we can ... until we get when we're too full. Puppies come in and get parvo or kennel cough. … If it spreads throughout the kennel, we've got to quarantine, shut down — it's a mess. We're trying to prevent animals from getting sick, and with that you have to minimize the population of the other animals here.”
Arkansas State Law requires Animal Services to wait a minimum of three days before adopting out or euthanizing found animals. Under an ordinance in the City of Hot Springs, HS Animal Services is required to wait a minimum of seven days to see if an animal will be reclaimed by an owner.
“On the 8th day we're able to adopt (them out),” Adkins said. “They're rescued or adopted, and they're not euthanized right away. We try not to if we can.
“Then, as we fill up, we kind of go with the ones who have been here the longest, that have been overlooked or whatnot. ... You've got to go with the ones who have been here the longest, and you've got to make room for the new ones.”
HS Animal Services Coordinator Michelle Stone said depending on current capacity levels in the shelter, after the seven-day holding period they may be waiting anywhere from one day to one month before having to euthanize the next animal.
The shelter has 37 cages for adoptable or reclaimed animals, 5 bite case cages, a puppy room with 12 smaller cages and about 70 cat cages. Stone said just last week they received 79 new animals, and they are not allowed to turn any away.
“We’re pretty full, especially with summertime,” Stone said. “People are out on the lake and they're not really paying attention to their animal, letting them run around. We're getting a lot of owner surrenders, we've actually had more owner surrenders this year than we have had in past years.”
HS Animal Services does not conduct animal fostering, only adoption. The adoption fee for dogs is $75 and for cats is $55. This includes a spay or neuter, microchip and rabies vaccination. The department is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Stone said saving one animal is saving two because it's making room for another to take its place.
“We don’t tell people if we have animals here or not (when they inquire over the phone), we’d rather them come in and look; if they don’t find theres they may find another they like or something,” Stone said. “Or, it shows them how many animals we have, how clean our facility is and gives them a better perspective of us. So we like for them to come in and look.”
Community outreach conducted by the department includes providing images for The Sentinel-Record’s monthly Pet Finder page, and holding an annual “Home for the Holidays” event where they offer adoptions at half price two weeks before Christmas Day. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic they held two rabies drives annually, but have not reinstated those.
There is currently no volunteer program at HS Animal Services*, but there are a few different ways the community can help:
Adopt an animal.
Microchip the animals you currently have in case they get lost. HS Animal Services provides this service for $20.
Spay and neuter the animals you currently have to help with population control. The Garland County Sheriff’s Department offers one $50 spay and neuter voucher every six months per household.
Donate items like cat and dog food, toys, litter and bleach to the department located at 319 Davidson Drive.
*Stone said the last volunteer program was held about six years ago, but it became a liability with aggressive animals. She said they would like to reinstate the program, but the amount of “bite cases” they receive makes it difficult.