Nita Hall of Sherwood hasn’t had the easiest time of it lately.
Her faithful companion, Teddy Bear, is no longer with us. The 18-year-old Pomeranian dog had been getting worse and worse the older he got and she made the decision to put him to sleep (euthanize him).
“It was a difficult decision,” Hall said.
The last thing she wanted Teddy Bear to do was to keep suffering. Her first stop was her local vet. The experience was not a pleasant one.
Hall’s vet wanted to charge a more significant sum of money to euthanize Teddy Bear, and charge even more if she wanted to be with him when the procedure was being carried out.
“Why do they have to charge you more to be with your pet?” Hall said.
Hall said she would have been willing to pay but the vet’s office wasn’t willing to work out payment arrangements.
Hall said she decided to look elsewhere for help, turning then to the Sherwood Animal Shelter.
When she called she was told on the phone the fee would be $100, a sum of money she said she could not afford. She added she felt the animal shelter wasn’t willing to work with her and her income.
She said her problem wasn’t solved until she contacted the North Little Rock Animal Shelter. She told North Little Rock her income and advised them of Teddy Bear’s condition. At first, the NLR shelter was going to charge her $10 or $15 and then opted to waive the entire fee.
Hall said she appreciates the NLR Animal Shelter for working with her so much during a very difficult time.
“I raised Teddy Bear ever since he was three weeks old,” Hall said. “I fed him with a bottle early on.”
Billy Grace, director of the North Little Rock Animal Shelter, said Hall isn’t the first Sherwood resident told by their own animal shelter that they would have to pay $100 to euthanize their animal and then they come to North Little Rock to pay a lot less.
“That is one of the oldest tricks in the books because they (shelters) know that if they only charge $15 or $20 to euthanize animals they will get inundate with such requests.
“For the last 10 years we have gotten a lot of calls from Sherwood residents,” Grace said.
Robin Breaux, Sherwood’s director of Humane Animal Services, said she does recall a woman recently contacting the shelter to have her dog put to sleep.
“I spoke to the shelter employees after our conversation today,” said Breaux. “An employee recently spoke to a lady by phone who stated that her dog was sick and did the shelter euthanize animals for the public. The employee told her that we did and the fee. The lady never stated that she could not afford the fee or that she needed help to have her pet euthanized. The lady said thank you and hung up the phone.”
Breaux said the shelter does charge $100 but does charge substantially less if pet owners are on fixed incomes and the animal is suffering.
She said Sherwood wants to charge at least $15 because that amount is necessary to pay the private firm that handles cremation services.
Grace said shelters need to do more to help with the pet overpopulation problem. He said policies and fees which make it harder and more expensive to euthanize are making innocent animals suffer.
“For every person in this country, there are 10 dogs and cats,” Grace said. “And in Arkansas it is even worse. For every one person, there are 20.”
Grace said policies known as no-kill sound good on the surface but are not solving the problem. Shelters that are no-kill won’t euthanize but only adopt pets out.
No-kill shelters sound very compassionate but are leaving so many unwanted pets out on the streets that there is a tremendous amount of suffering dogs and cats.
Breaux said she knows of no no-kill municipal animal shelters. She said she is aware of some private shelters funded by donations.