Residents continue to raise concerns about animal shelters

TEXARKANA, Ark. – A number of residents returned to City Hall on Monday to voice their concerns about conditions at the animal care and adoption center and offer solutions, including the passage of a mandatory sterilization law and sterilization.

Animal care advocates again took turns speaking at the citizen outreach portion of the city’s regular bi-weekly board meeting, as they have at the previous two meetings of the advice. They described conditions at the shelter as deplorable, painting a picture of poorly ventilated facilities soiled with excrement and urine. They asked for more transparency around the shelter’s funding, particularly how a recent $1 million donation is being spent. And they said the fundamental problem is the lack of enforcement of existing animal ordinances and the need for more laws on the books.

Christina Tutt of Texarkana Animal Coalition said the shelter “is not safe for animals, shelter employees, volunteers, or visitors, and is definitely a (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) hazard.” She then offered immediate solutions.

“I am willing and able to put together a team of citizen volunteers to fix as many of these issues as possible at no cost to the city, because it needs to be done and no one is doing it.

“As well, I am willing to provide the city with a professional consultant who will visit the shelter and provide a thorough assessment, as well as suggestions for improving the care of the shelter animals and the employees who care for them.”

City Manager Jay Ellington met with a focus group of animal advocates and rescuers in a bid to address their concerns as a new shelter building nears completion. Some speakers said Monday that a city ordinance is needed to penalize pet owners who don’t sterilize their animals.

Susan Moore of Fix TXK said the group had spent $12,000 to sterilize more than 250 dogs and cats over the past year, but the effort had not been enough to stem the excessive number of pets not desired.

“I just feel like we need help. We need spaying and sterilization laws. It’s heartbreaking to see this every day,” she said.

In other matters, the city’s board of directors voted to increase the city’s minimum fund balance from 60 spending days to 65. The 60-day minimum has been in effect since 2015.

Another financial measure, changing the city’s purchasing policy to accommodate recent changes in state law, also met with council approval.

State law has changed, revising the items for which a competitive bidding is not required. Another rule change increases the maximum potential threshold for tender purchases from $25,000 to $35,000.

The Commission also approved a contract worth more than $180,000 for the installation of new water pipes.

RBIS LLC of Texarkana, Arkansas, was the lowest bidder for the project, which will result in 1,040 feet of 6-inch water main, as well as fire hydrants, at Chelsea and Delaware streets. The work was included in Texarkana Water Utilities’ last annual budget.

Council also voted to accept a donation of land at 121 Jackson Street, adjacent to the Ermer Dansby Sports Complex. The land will be part of the park.

Mayor Allen Brown read a proclamation naming Tuesday, March 8 Juvenile Day in honor of the 40-year career of the recently retired Texarkana Gazette editor.

“I’m so glad this town has welcomed me for so many years, given me the chance to raise my family here, gave me a voice to speak out about the things that were happening in Texarkana to help make part of the problem-solving process, Minor said.