Apr 11, 2022 - News

Pet resource center is shaping up

rendering of pet resource center
A rendering shows what the pet resource center will look like. Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society

Utah-based nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society is building a 20,000-square-foot pet resource center. It will be located at 1312 Melissa Dr. in Bentonville and is intended to get — and keep — cats and dogs in homes and offer a myriad of services to pet owners.

Details: The resource center will provide services such as low-cost spay and neutering for low-income pet owners as well as dog training, support groups for people who have lost pets and some veterinary services, said Kristin Switzer, campaign director.

  • Foster care and adoption will also be available.
  • The center will work closely with other animal organizations including Spay Arkansas and local veterinarians. For now, it's unclear whether Best Friends will employ a veterinarian, Switzer said.

Best Friends' goal is to shelter pets by getting them into homes and keeping them there, rather than merely keeping them off the streets, said Kari Hartkorn, director of brand experience.

  • Sometimes, people get rid of their dogs because they think they're untrainable or not good with children. The center will offer education to pet owners such as training their dogs or teaching them how to introduce their furry friends to new pets or kids.
  • Cats will be able to live at the center and roam free both inside and outside. Cats die in shelters twice as frequently as dogs, Hartkorn said. Many people don't have the time or resources to bottle-feed kittens, so foster care programs will allow volunteers to take care of them during the most vulnerable stage and then they can be adopted.
  • Dogs will not be able to live at the center.

The big picture: Best Friends doesn't have another facility quite like this, and the goal is for it to serve as a sustainable model for modern animal sheltering, Hartkorn said.

  • "The sheltering system is very outdated. One hundred fifty years ago, shelters were built practically to get rid of what they would call spare pets, homeless pets, and this is more of what we call a community-supported sheltering system," she said.

Flashback: The city of Bentonville considered working with Best Friends on a pet resource center a few years ago but opted to instead build its own city-run animal shelter. That project is under construction at the corner of Southwest I and Southwest 41st streets.

  • Bentonville is the only one of NWA's four largest cities that doesn't have an animal shelter. Smaller cities, such as Lowell and Centerton, already have their own facilities.

What's next: Best Friends expects to open the center in late November or early December, Switzer said.

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