The possibility of official animal control in Faulkner County is slowly working its way to becoming a reality, although many more hurdles must be cleared.
The Faulkner County Courts and Public Safety Committee has met several times over the past few months in order to develop a plan that could implement a solid animal control for the county, and instances such as the discovery of nearly 20 abandoned puppies near Vilonia a few weeks ago are only giving the idea more merit. The problem the committee is dealing with is how to fund the department.
“There is nothing here in Faulker County, there is no shelter,” said Shirley Jarman of the Faulkner County Humane Society. “Six or seven years ago, they voted to get a volunteer tax, and at the end of this year, there is probably going to be about $700,000. I know there are discussions within the committees in Faulkner County, but there have been so many discussions in the past, and we are still where we are.”
Recently, Linda Stafford of Vilonia cared for nearly 20 abandoned dogs that were found behind her property. She was unable to get any help from the county, she said, because the sheriff’s department required information on the people who abandoned them, and no other official entity existed to help her. Eventually, volunteer organizations came to assist her with food, vaccinations and help finding new homes for the dogs.
County officials have talked about the possibility of partnering with Conway officials in some sort of joint venture. Discussions have been held between officials from both the city and county, but more issues needed to be ironed out, such as purchasing existing property as opposed to building something new and having one central location for both city and county.
Operational costs are a major concern, although County Judge Preston Scroggin said that over the long term, more money should be available. The cut in costs from a new “green” courthouse building combined with the continued revenue from growth in county, especially from natural gas exploration, have made being patient with a county facility a possibility.
“If the economy continues to grow in this area, we might need to find out how patient we can be,” Scroggin said. “With the growth of the natural gas, I see much growth in the area, and I think the money could come as a result of that growth.”
The committee is looking at meeting with other counties as well in the coming weeks to see if their methods can be used in Faulkner County.
Meanwhile, Stafford will have to get help from other organizations if any more dogs come through her woods.
“I went everywhere I could for help,” she said. “We need something here in the county when something like this happens.”