BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Humane Society of the Ouachitas is an organization that cares for the neglected animals of Polk County and is staffed with volunteers that donate valuable time to love, feed, and care for the dogs and cats under their umbrella. The HSO, as it is called, is Polk County’s locally owned and operated “no-kill” non-profit shelter.
“HSO has been rescuing homeless pets and finding them new homes for 37 years,” says HSO volunteer secretary and historian Cheryl Murphy. “Caring volunteers and generous supporters keep the shelter operating and adoption rates climbing. HSO is serving the animals better than ever with most sheltered pets finding new homes within 3 months or less of being rescued. Things are definitely rolling right along for our rescued animals, thanks to HSO’s many supporters.”
The amount of ‘unwanted and unloved’ animals in Polk County is always high in numbers, but the adoptions in the area are few. That’s where the Rescue Wagon from PetSmart Charities comes in to play. Once a month, PetSmart picks the animals up and takes them north to find loving homes. Volunteers such as Shelter Manager Tina Ball, spend their Saturday traveling with dozens of dogs to adoption days in Fort Smith or Hot Springs. “In some areas, there is a need for pets, but there aren’t any available. In our area, there are more pets than adoptions so the program brings the two together,” said Ball. Cats aren’t usually on the Rescue Wagons because, as Ball laughed, “cats don’t like to travel.” During the first quarter of 2016, HSO has averaged sending 26 dogs a month on the Rescue Wagon and around 15 a month are adopted throughout the state.
HSO relies on three paid part-time staffers and volunteers and donations to maintain the facilities and they work very hard to keep the doors open. “Without the donations we may not be able to feed our animals,” said volunteer Michael Povey. HSO recently held their annual Radio-thon on KENA and gained $5,105 dollars through donations and pledges. “We want to thank everyone that donated out of a concern for the unwanted and unloved pets of Polk County,” continued Povey.
Ball said the reason for all of the hard work put into volunteering is, “I love volunteering and I would encourage any animal lover to be involved in the Humane Society. Seeing an animal uncared for and alone and then transformed into a beloved, happy, healthy pet is one of the most gratifying things that I’ve been able to experience. What’s not to love?”
Currently there are 82 dogs being cared for by HSO and their volunteers. There are 36 puppies in foster homes around the county and the rest live at the shelter.
Anyone finding and willing to temporarily care for a stray animal, may contact the shelter about putting that animal on an ‘intake list’ where the animal can be placed in the shelter as soon as there is an open kennel. Anyone interested in adopting an animal or helping with Saturday adoption events and other volunteer activities are invited to contact the shelter at 479-394-5682, or email for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit the shelter at 366 Polk Rd 50 in Mena.