At the Northeast Arkansas Humane Society, a small group of staff prepare shelter dogs for a cross-country journey with the ASPCA’s animal relocation program. Taking twenty to fifty pups at a time to places like Indiana and states farther north to find forever homes. Kelly Pickering is the Operations Kennel Manager for the Humane Society.
“We have more dogs than adopters, and believe it or not, there are shelters more northerly that have more adopters than dogs. So, our dogs go to those shelters, where they get into homes much faster than they will if they stay here,” says Pickering. “A lot of these are puppies here are housed two, three, four in one kennel.”
The trips can span two thousand miles or more. Travis Hayes of the ASPCA’s Watershed Animal Rescue Fund says ultimately, it’s for the good of each animal, and the community.
“We take a lot of high-risk animals, like a lot of bully breeds. That a lot of times would probably never stand a chance in the deep South, because there’s so many,” explains Hayes. “The biggest danger it poses is overall animal suffering. Dogs and cats that are on the street that don’t get proper medical care, that don’t get proper food and water, and ultimately don’t get that chance to ultimately get into a home.”
Each dog and cat is fully vetted with vaccinations and behavior evaluations before they’re able to relocate. A big point of focus is combatting the spread of diseases, to other animals, and to humans.
“Being down here in the Delta, with all the mosquitos, we get more than our fair share of heart-worm positive dogs. Since it is transferred by mosquitos, and here we are in rice country,” adds Pickering.
Animal transports take place once to twice a month to help free up space at the Humane Society. But Pickering says overcrowding continues to be a struggle. Largely because spay and neutering pets isn’t required in Arkansas.
Pickering goes on to say that “the [Humane Society] will be back over full capacity, in a matter of less than a week. A lot of people have to surrender animals due to moving. Some people pass away, or go into hospice care, and the family is unable to care for the dog, so they come here.”
The Humane Society offers a low-cost spay and neutering service, strongly encouraged for all pet owners in the area.
The ASPCA has successfully transported over forty thousand animals to date, through East Coast, West Coast and Midwest animal relocation programs.