March 9, 2016 Edition

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Rio (left) and Randall with Jumpstart secure screening on additional pens being constructed at the shelter. There are plans for a future expansion off the back of the building to allow for more pens.
TD Photo ~ Megan Heyl

Jumpstart Animal Shelter
asset to community

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Jumpstart Animal Shelter, a collaboration between the city of Walnut Ridge and Jumpstart Ministries, is up and running with several success stories already to share.

"We always get excited when someone comes to pick up a dog," Troutman said. "We're trying to get these animals to have a better life. We want them to have homes and not cages. "

Through the efforts of many in the Jumpstart program and other volunteers, Nick Troutman with Jumpstart said there have already been several adoptions out of the shelter.

They have worked with animal rescue and Northeast Arkansans for Animals. However, Troutman said it is the support from the community through volunteering, making donations and providing foster homes for the animals that has made the shelter a success.

One such volunteer is Lori Carson of Walnut Ridge who helps to network the animals online and offers what Troutman called a feminine touch to the shelter.

"Jumpstart Animal Shelter is a wonderful, non-profit organization that is definitely beneficial to our community. The staff is very welcoming and would love for more people to visit and meet these animals that are available for adoption," Carson said.

Carson also helps to coordinate with individuals, shelters and rescue groups in order to find foster or permanent home for the animals.

Due to the shelter being located in a rural community, Carson and the Jumpstart team have had to extend their reach when finding new owners. Using social media such as the shelter's Facebook page, Jumpstart Animal Shelter, they have been able to move a large number of dogs and cats within the last few months.

Promotion online has allowed the shelter to have better turnover rates and get more animals off the streets and in homes that can care for them, which is good as the shelter not only handles animals brought in by citizens but also those picked up by animal control.

Animal control officer Josh Light said that having a place to take the dogs is not only good for the city as the animals are off the streets and out of the trash, but also good for the dogs as they have a warm and sheltered place to stay.

Prior to the shelter, a network of fosters was used to keep strays. However the shelter not only provides a safe house for the animals but also aided in the passing of a new dog ordinance, which regulated registration of dogs within the city limits.

Light reminds owners that dogs in Walnut Ridge must be registered and tagged. Those kept outside for any length of time require a shelter and fence, tethers are not accepted.

There is a four-animal limit per household in Walnut Ridge.

Whenever animal control picks up a stray, a post and picture is madke on the Walnut Ridge Animal Shelter Facebook page. Light recommends checking it regularly if a dog is missing.

If animal control cannot find the owner in the five-day period the state requires to hold the animal, it is then turned over to Jumpstart to offer for adoption.

However, it's not going to be an overnight fix for the animal control problem in the area. Troutman said there is an overflow of animals and he's had to turn down animals as to not overcrowd the shelter.

The shelter is being set up with a maximum capacity of about 18 dogs, depending on the size, though he said that would be a little more crowded than he'd like to keep the shelter.

Working under a no-kill policy, animals will have to be adopted out

quickly. Troutman said dogs that show aggression will not be adopted out and in extreme cases will have to be euthanized.

There is enough area on the property, which is owned by the city, to expand the building and house more animals.

Currently Jumpstart is working to build additional pens and clean the facility. The next major project is to power wash and repaint the floors, which get bleached every day.

The shelter also has a couple of cages for cats and there has been some luck adopting out cats to local farms. However, the facility isn't set up to house more than a few cats and they have had to turn down many.

Currently working with Walnut Ridge, Hoxie, Black Rock and Alicia animal control, the shelter is extending its reach across Lawrence County. "This has been a great opportunity to help our community," Troutman said.

In order to adopt from the shelter an application and screening process is required to assure the animal goes to a good home. A fee of $125 is also required. The shelter collects nothing from the fee as it covers the cost of a spay or neuter and preventative shots.

Call the shelter at 870-809-1694 for more information.

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