Humane Society keeping dogs and cats warm and fed

By Wayne Bryan Published December 19, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Rusty Hubbard

Jim Kuntz, assistant manager of the Humane Society of Garland County, holds Ollie, who is healing from a broken leg.

One of the biggest joys of the holidays is to step back and look for ways to help those less fortunate. That job shines especially bright when it casts light on the forgotten dogs, cats and other animals that have been lost or abandoned by those who should be looking after them.

Jackie Harrelson, volunteer president of the Humane Society of Garland County, said her organization cares for some 70 dogs and up to 40 cats each day at the society’s shelter in Lonsdale.

“While we have Garland County in our name, we are not a part of the government,” she said. “We are a private organization with no county funds to use. We are dependent on donations from our neighbors and fellow

animal lovers.”

In the winter, the special need is for heat. Harrelson said space heaters and hay are especially needed by the Humane Society.

“We need hay, not straw, because there is something different about straw that makes it unable to keep the heat like hay, and it is also more prone to house ticks and fleas,” Harrelson said. “And it only takes one flea, and soon you have a major problem.”

Blankets are placed on top of the hay, especially for the dogs that sleep outdoors at night.

“Of course, when it is below freezing outside, they are almost all allowed indoors at the complex on Ault Loop,” Harrelson said. “All except the new members of the animal population who are in quarantine before they are allowed in with the rest of the animals. We have to make sure the new members of our group don’t have anything that can spread to the rest of our population, such as diseases and fleas.”

To warm even the quarantined animals, Harrelson said, the animal shelter needs space heaters for some of the outdoor spots.

“There is also a need for heat lamps and other ways to keep heat coming,” she said. “We use heavy-duty plastic heating beds and power cords that have been wrapped with heavy wire so dogs cannot chew on them and hurt themselves.”

While the welfare of all dogs is a concern, special care is given to older animals and to those who will soon be mothers.

“We have a birthing center at an old building and a senior-suite area for older dogs nearby,” Harrelson said. “Each of the area’s units holds up to four animals.”

“Those senior centers are used to balance the number between the old dogs and smaller dogs. There are always plenty of little dogs, but big dogs need homes, too.”

To help care for the animals, she said, the Humane Society is always looking for more leashes and collars. Once the leashes are available, the dogs need people to come volunteer to walk them on a regular basis.

“We have one group that comes one day a week,” Harrelson said. “We need that many every day, but we’re glad to get them once a week.”

She said many of the volunteers are from Hot Springs Village and from the Diamond Head communities around Hot Springs.

Another common need is good dog and cat foods. The Humane Society will accept almost any kind of pet food, but because of pet allergies, items that contain corn are getting less and less acceptable.

“Corn is really just a filler,” Harrelson said. “It doesn’t contribute much to the health of the animals. It is only a filler. So when we get anything that includes food loaded with corn, we mix it with other better brands.”

The animal shelter also needs some medications, often the same kinds needed by humans.

“The dogs need fish oil and Benadryl; both of those things help with scratchy skin,” she said. “The fish oil is good for skin, heart and joints, and the animals love the taste.”

Special-needs animals need lamb-and-rice pet food,” Harrelson said. “It is very good, along with some other medicines, for older dogs.”

Harrelson said older dogs make ideal pets but are often overlooked. She called the older animals a special treasure.

“They are not puppies anymore,” she said. “They don’t chew things anymore, and they have gone through their puppy stage. All they want is to be in the house and around you.”

The volunteer president for the past five years said she has personally cared for an older dog.

“It just comes up to you and wants pets and loving,”

Harrelson said. “She is my 14-year-old Gracie.

“I wish other people could focus their attention on the older dogs. I know their time might be shorter, but then they need far less care and much more love.”

Yet as much as she would like to see older dogs get lifetime homes, she said, the Humane Society will not allow someone to adopt a dog unless the adoption is for that person.

“Historically, adopting a dog for Grandma is not right for the client or the dog,”

Harrelson said. “We have seen too many cases of where animals have been returned, and that is a kind of rejection we do not need with the animal.”

To donate items or cash to the Humane Society, call (501) 623-5012.

“We want to get the message out,” Harrelson said. “For more information, you can also go to the website: www.hsgconline.org.”

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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