BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Bentonville city leaders want an animal shelter, but they’re concerned about how a third-party shelter would handle adopting out dogs that have a history of being dangerous.
A Pet Resource Committee meeting was held in Bentonville Monday night. Mayor Stephanie Orman vocalized her concerns regarding a planned animal shelter.
“If you read a court case of a dog ripping off a little girl’s face and then they re-adopt that dog to the public, that’s a concern for me as a mayor and a public safety concern. So how do you write an operating agreement that tries to address those things,” Orman said.
Debbie Griffin, Bentonville’s community relations and economic development director, spoke to KNWA Tuesday and elaborated upon Orman’s concerns.
“The main thing is if a dog is brought to the shelter [and] the dog is being dangerous, is the dog readopted out and are the people who are adopting the pet aware that the dog is dangerous,” Griffin said.
Bentonville city officials are aiming to have a shelter built by 2021. Officials discussed Monday the location, cost and risk of allowing the shelter to be owned by a third party on private land.
Griffin said she and other city officials did research and learned of incidents across the country in which dangerous dogs were adopted out to people who were not made aware of the dog’s aggressive tenancies.
“There were several lawsuits that had been brought, so we’re doing our due diligence as a city to make sure that if there was a third-party provider that we understood what their policies are before entering into an agreement,” Griffin said. “We need to make sure these things are ironed out before we go with a third-party provider.”
Animal shelters officials across Northwest Arkansas make a policy of not adopting out dogs that are unsafe.
“If an animal is vicious or dangerous, we are not going to adopt it out,” said Justine Lentz, Fayetteville Animal Services superintendent. “We would never want to put a dog out into the community that we would feel would be a danger to people.”
However, very few of the dogs that come through Fayetteville Animal Services are dangerous, according to Lentz.
Fayetteville Animal Services took in 1,291 dogs last year. Twenty of those dogs were euthanized and only nine were euthanized for being “temperamentally unsound,” Lentz said.
All dogs that arrive at Fayetteville Animals Services undergo an evaluation process in which staff members take notes on a dog’s behavior. Dogs that are not lost and returned to their home become Fayetteville Animal Services property.
“Once they become our property, we do a dog on dog test. We choose a dog that we already know and think will do well with a dog we’re [evaluating],” Lentz said. “If it goes well, then we do other stuff, final medical workups, then we move [the dog] on to the adoption floor.”
When adopting out dogs, officials with Fayetteville Animal Services work to match the dog’s personality to a compatible home environment. So they work to match dogs that are high energy to more active owners and dogs that are more subdued to more reserved households, Lentz said.
A Rogers Animal Shelter staff member said 99 percent of the dogs that come to the shelter are not vicious.
“We have some of them that are scared, but none of them are really vicious,” the staff member said. “Most of the dogs that come in are pretty good animals.”
Terry Sanchez, Centerton Animal Shelter director, said dogs with fear and anxiety are sometimes brought into Centerton’s shelter.
“If you get a special situation with a dog, you do the best can and try to work with them,” he said.
Dogs who are suffering from fear and anxiety can be brought around with “love and respect” and some time and patience, Sanchez said.
“Once they realize they’re not in harm’s way and we’re good guys, they usually come around,” Sanchez said.