Refuge, rescue groups are seeing an increase in pet abandonments

TEXARKANA, Ark. – Animal shelters and rescue groups on both sides of the state line say a combination of factors – from inflation to lack of knowledge about pets – is fueling dog surrender and abandonment on both sides of the state line.

Since January, the Animal Care and Adoption Center has taken in 14 abandoned dogs and handed over 50.

“We have a lot of calls where people don’t want to deal with them anymore,” shelter manager Lenor Teague said. “(They say) I just can’t afford it. I don’t have time for them.”

Teague said if his shelter is full, chances are local rescue groups will be too.

Susan Moore, leader of local organization Fix TXK, agrees.

“We’re overloaded and hustling here every day,” Moore said. “It’s worse in the north, where rescue groups get dogs from here.”

Moore said in May that local Greg King’s Canine Recovery rescued 49 dogs and Michigan-based rescue organization Unleashed Love received 70 dogs from Texarkana.

Inflation has contributed somewhat to the abandonment of pets, Moore said.

“Of course inflation makes it harder to buy food, take (your pet) to the vet,” Moore said. “I think people know that rescues will take care of their problems and they will benefit from it. I have (helped other people in difficulty) many times, although we are also struggling.”

Teague said that while the shelter provides a dog bag for those struggling to feed their pets, she would welcome a community resource, such as a dog food bank.

“It would be great to have one, especially for the community that can’t afford (food).”

Fix TXK helps get pets spayed or neutered at a subsidized cost or free of charge. Moore would like to see more people take advantage of the service.

“When they can get their pets spayed for free and they don’t, that says it all,” Moore said, adding that neglecting the procedure leads to more dogs being born that can end up being abandoned.

Teague said the adoption center educates the potential adopter on the requirements of owning a pet.

“Kids are thrilled to have a dog, a cat, whatever it is, and of course parents say, ‘It’s your responsibility,'” Teague said. “Then they come home and a month or two later the honeymoon is over. The parents are like, ‘Okay, well, you’re not going to take care of this dog, and we’re going get rid of it. .'”

Teague said new owners can overlook the time and expense involved in caring for a pet.

“In addition to vaccinations, sterilization and sterilization, there is just a huge responsibility,” she said. “They can’t just chain them to a fixed object outside. They have to be on a runner, they have to have food, water and shelter.”

The Animal Care and Adoption Center will be hosting another microchip event in the near future where 200 free microchips can be registered for Texarkana residents. The center held a microchipping event on Saturday that saw 55 Arkansas residents and 42 Texas residents register their pets.

Teague also recommends the Animal Protection League of Texarkana and Texarkana Animal League groups for those who may need subsidized pet neutering.

“PetSmart Charities is committed to supporting people and pets, helping them stay together, especially in times of need,” said Amber Schlaefer, public relations specialist for PetSmart.

The organization has funded programs to support pet food insecurity – including partnering with Feeding America to include pet food in Texas and Arkansas – and funding the United Way 211 Pets Eat program. Too,” Schlaefer said.

“By dialing 211, people can speak with operators in Fayetteville and Little Rock who can help connect them with pet food and supplies at no cost,” Schlaefer said.

Schlaefer said people can also search the PetSmart Charities website to locate free or low-cost spaying and spaying clinics, many of which can offer additional basic care services at low cost.



An Arkansas ordinance sign is seen Wednesday, June 22, 2022, outside the Animal Care and Adoption Center in Texarkana, Ark. Abandoning an animal is illegal. Anyone caught abandoning an animal can be fined up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail. (Staff photo by Mallory Wyatt)

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Jennifer R. Strohm