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BENTONVILLE -- Several City Council members acknowledged the city needs to have its own animal shelter during a committee of the whole meeting Friday.

Council member Bill Burckart said he would bring a proposal to the council outlining priorities a model shelter should have as well as state the intention of creating a community task force to help with developing a shelter.

Meeting Information

The next Bentonville City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 23 in the Community Development Building at 305 S.W. A St.

Source: Staff Report

Council members called the special Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday after a group of concerned residents convinced five of the seven council members to vote against a proposed animal service contract with Centerton.

Octavio Sanchez and Chris Sooter were the two votes for the contract. Council members Stephanie Orman, Tim Robinson, Bill Burckart, Jim Webb and Chad Goss voted against it.

Robinson was the only council member absent at Friday's meeting. There were eight residents who attended.

Residents said Tuesday the contract was too vague in its terms of service. It was unclear what the money was going to be spent on, they said.

The city will pay Centerton $8,333 per month for 36 months, or three years, totaling $100,000 each year, for a base fee plus $100 for each animal taken to its shelter, according to the contract presented Tuesday.

One of the two focuses of their conversation with the council Friday was to make the contract more specific. The other was to discuss what steps to take for a long-term solution for Bentonville's lost and stray animals.

The animal advocates said the Centerton shelter was and will operate on commercial kennel standards, not the guidelines for standard care in animal shelters.

For example, there needs to be an isolation room for dogs with diseases and a separate puppy room to protect them from the shelter's general population. Each area needs its own air exchange. Centerton doesn't have any of these, the advocates said.

"Certain standards would minimize the risk of what could be transferred in that community," said Romaine Kobilsek, president of Spay Arkansas, a low cost spay and neuter clinic in Springdale.

She explained canine parvovirus, commonly known as parvo, is a often-deadly dog disease that easily spread in shelters if steps aren't taken to guard against it.

Advocates also called for the temperature and humidity to be controlled, a better system for people to retrieve their dogs and for euthanasia to only be allowed for sick or dangerous -- unadoptable -- dogs.

Some of the requests should be considered "aspirations," said George Spence, city attorney.

"I don't expect that to be in the contract because those are material changes that cost money," he said, talking specifically about the temperature and humidity being controlled to certain degrees.

Many of the suggestions won't make it into the contract because there isn't enough time to add them, have the lawyers of Bentonville and Centerton review and agree on them before they head to their respective councils Jan. 23, council members emphasized.

That doesn't mean they can't be aspects taken into account if Bentonville were to eventually build its own shelter, Burckart said.

"This is a temporary situation and our hope is that it will develop into something really great," he said.

Centerton is in the process of expanding its shelter from 18 to 73 kennels. City officials are expecting the project to be completed by May 1.

Bentonville's contract to take its animals to the Rogers Animal Shelter ends Feb. 1. City officials are working with various animal clinics to help house the stray and lost dogs after that. Their hope is to have a contract with Centerton that will begin May 1.

NW News on 01/13/2018

Print Headline: Shelter talks continue with council, animal advocates

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