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Central Arkansas organization calling for more pet fosters to prevent euthanizations

Rescue Road is calling for more foster homes for animals in central Arkansas after having to euthanize a dozen cats and dogs Wednesday.

PINE BLUFF, Ark — A foster organization is calling for more foster homes for animals in central Arkansas after having to euthanize a dozen cats and dogs Wednesday.

Janie Smith serves as a volunteer at the Pine Bluff Animal Shelter and lead coordinator for the shelter's Rescue Road branch, where she said roughly 170 animals can be housed at one time.

Rescue Road is an organization that's focused on pulling dogs from shelters with higher euthanasia rates in order to place them in foster homes for a period of two weeks to three months.

The organization assists high-kill shelters in Pine Bluff, West Memphis, Hazen, Carlisle, and Stuttgart: attempting to save as many dogs as they can.

High-kill shelters are areas that house more animals than capacity can handle, leading to overcrowding. 

Smith said they had to euthanize a dozen cats and dogs to make room in the shelter Wednesday. Two weeks before that another batch of animals were put down.

"It would be so helpful to the Pine Bluff shelter if we could get some people just in central Arkansas to foster. We lead them through the process," Smith said.

She's been volunteering at the shelter since June of 2013 and said even without fosters and adoptions, they're still forced to make room.

"It's not an isolated incident," Smith said. "It's when the shelter is full and there is no room. There is no other option because they're continually bringing in dogs here sadly."

Marcus Graydon is the director for the Pine Bluff Animal Control. He's had to euthanize dogs and said each time can be tough. 

"You can see the potential in a dog, but nobody wants to take it. Nobody wants to take it, nobody wants to give this dog a chance. It's heartbreaking," Graydon said.

140 pets have already been surrendered by owners in 2021 from January to July, while only 121 pets were surrendered in 2020. 

The numbers are significantly lower than two years ago as there were around 200 pets surrendered, but Graydon said he doesn't want numbers to increase.  

"We were a high-kill shelter for a long time and so we want to not have that name. We want to become a low kill shelter if possible or a no kill," said Graydon.

113 animals were euthanized in 2021 so far.