The Sebastian County Humane Society is dealing with a "critical" deficit due to a recent increase in the number of stray animals, according to a recent news release from the shelter.
“We are currently running a deficit of over $270,000 due to the record number of animals being brought to our shelter, as well as the number of injured and sick animals that need medical care,” Joe Sprague, executive director of the shelter, is quoted in the release.
The shelter is currently caring for more than 400 dogs, more than 600 cats and one pig, according to the release. So far this year, animal control and members of the public have brought in 780 cats, 1,795 dogs, 21 roosters, five chickens, five rabbits, 10 pigs, eight guinea pigs, two birds and a chinchilla.
Fort Smith Animal Control accounts for 92 percent of the animals currently at the shelter, the release states. Along with the increase in animal population at the shelter comes an increase in medical expenses to treat injuries and illness among the animals.
To deal with the influx, the shelter is looking at raising its operating budget from $1.2 million to $1.5 million, the release states. The shelter needs financial assistance from the community to meet that additional expense.
“If this deficit keeps climbing, it will become a major crisis ... as we will deplete our savings to keep our operation going,” Sprague says in the release.
The Humane Society is seeking to work more closely with Fort Smith city officials to deal with what Sprague perceives as a stray problem that is out of control, the release states.
“We take our mission very seriously," Sprague says in the release. "We rely on the generosity of our community to care for our animals, and we believe that by taking care of our animals, it enhances our community.”
Donations can be made by mailing to PO Box 10953, Fort Smith, 72917; dropping it off at the shelter, 3800 Kelley Highway; calling the shelter and making your donation by phone; or making your donation at www.sebastiancountyhumanesociety.org or the shelter's Facebook page.