Say you live in Little Rock, and you're walking home one afternoon.
It's crazy hot, and you're looking forward to some sweet air conditioning and zoning out in front of the TV.
And then you notice a dog in your neighbor's backyard. She's tied to a tree, has gotten herself wrapped around its trunk and now she can't reach her water.
Something should be done, you think. You know it's illegal in Little Rock for owners to have pets tied up like this, and cruelty to animals, including failure to provide adequate shelter, food, water and medical care is a punishable crime.
You knock on the door of the home, but no one answers.
What to do?
A fella we know was in this very situation and did what he thought was the right thing. He called the city's Animal Services office and reported what was happening.
But nothing changed. The next day the dog was still tied to the tree.
He called again. And again. After five calls and a plea on the app Nextdoor, officers with Little Rock's Animal Services Division went to the house.
Tracy Roark is the manager of the division.
Calling them was the right thing to do, he says.
"We do respond. I'm always accessible for people to call. I don't want any dog to be out there without water."
The number is (501) 376-3067. The division is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Roark says to call 911 if there is a problem when the office is closed.
The division has an annual budget of about $1.25 million and handles around 5,000 calls per year with a minimal staff.
"I have three officers in the field, and two are training," Roark said Thursday. "It's hell, every day. Last night, we ran calls all night long."
Reports range from dogs running loose to dogs being chained up, he says.
Animals must be confined at the owner's property by a fence, pen or tethered to an approved trolley system, according to the division's website.
"I hate chains," Roark says. "That's my deal."
If an animal's life is in danger, officers will take it and the division's veterinarian will give it a checkup, Roark says.
The owners can be served with warrants to appear in Municipal Court.
"If it's not life-threatening, but it's a cruelty violation, ... I will get a warrant and we will serve that warrant," Roark says. "I've got paperwork on my desk right now for a warrant, and as soon as I can get a judge to sign it, we will serve it."
Failure to follow the city's animal ordinances could result in fines up to $1,000, according to the website. Animals can be held up to 10 days by the division, and defendants are responsible for boarding and impound fees, Roark says.
Beyond working to protect animals, the division offers pet adoptions for a $90 fee.
SundayMonday on 08/18/2019