Van Buren City Council will vote on dog shelter funds

VAN BUREN, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The agenda for the Van Buren City Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 23 includes a vote on whether to give a local animal shelter $93,000 to expand its facility.

The board president for the Almost Home Shelter and Rescue, Joellen Banhart, said current conditions at the shelter have volunteers and dogs feeling unsafe. She said the facility was originally designed to be the city’s kill pound with only 10 dog pens inside, but it has since been turned into a safe space for rescued dogs now with an added 18 pens. Banhart says that’s still not enough.

Banhart said the shelter’s limited space forces them to live and work on top of each other. Although, with the money from the city, she said they’ll be able to give the dogs more room, and keep more aggressive dogs separated.

“Sometimes when you get a dog out and it gets too close to the pen next door, you may get a nip on the leg or the dog might get into a fight through a pen. So lack of space is just a major, major hindrance,” said Banhart.

At all times Banhart said they try to keep two emergency spots open for canines brought in by the city’s animal control officer, but she said even those spots are hard to keep open.

“If someone brought in a litter of puppies, I would probably just faint, but we would find a room for them, but we’re pretty full,” said Banhart.

To keep their heads above water, she said they have to transport dogs to shelters across the country. Just last week, the shelter sent 17 dogs to different states to free up space.

The Almost Home Shelter and Rescue is run solely by volunteers. Banhart said it could always use donations to add more kennels, and volunteers to help its many dogs.

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