Dear Editor:

I would once again like to address the community about the situation at hand involving the Van Buren County Animal Control. Due to a literal "uprising" by a handful of members of the community, those of us at the Loved me, But left me Animal Rescue who have been working diligently to help rescue and place shelter animals, have been forced to take a step back. After many questions of our "intentions," and many misleading and inaccurate rumors, we have now had guidelines set as to how we can help the animals in the shelter. We are yet to find out the full extent of the guidelines, but it seems that our ability to help is going to be limited. It is unfortunate that after nearly five years of our dedication and unparalleled results, we are now faced with restrictions.

In the year 2012 alone, with our assistance, VBC animal control was able to reduce their euthanize rates by approximately 70 percent. These animals were either adopted on strict contract through our organization, or we were able to transfer many to other no-kill rescue facilities that are out of state, not laboratories, dog-fighting rings, or even ridiculous as it may sound, Chinese restaurants. Arkansas has a serious problem with pet/animal overpopulation, so we relocate these animals to areas that are not facing this issue. With new restrictions, we fear the animals’ futures will be hindered, and although there are many loving, responsible would-be pet owners in our community, the sad truth is that there are just as many, if not more, adopters who do not properly care for their pets and these animals still end up a sad statistic in one way or another.

I know we have literally explained our intentions until many of you are just plain sick of reading them, but I will put this down for everyone to see, once again. My family and I have dedicated to our entire existence to helping animals. We never make any profit from these animals, and in fact, most of the time we struggle financially for their benefit. We live by the words of Gandhi, which is "Live simply, so others may simply live." Someone recently made a comment about me to the effect, "No one does this sort of thing out of the goodness of their heart," but honestly, yes, some of us do. What is disconcerting is that many people are so jaded they have actually, truly lost faith in humanity.

Here is a breakdown of what our $165-$175 adoption fee covers: $70 for spay or neuter; $8 for rabies vaccine; $21 for a round of three vaccines; $30 for two Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccines; $8-50 for wormer, depending on the size of the animal or how bad the infestation is; $35 for a heartworm/lymes/erlichiosis test. This does not cover any gas or travel expenses, or additional medical treatments the animals may need. Also, please take into consideration our $45 per day feed bill, $300 per month flea/tick/heartworm prevention, as well as approximately $20-$50 additional per month added to our water bill. Fortunately, we do still have people who believe in us and are willing to donate to help the animals, otherwise, none of this would be possible. We again would like to invite any skeptics out to meet us and our "pack," just let us know when you would like to visit. We also would like to include our veterinary reference: Nixon Animal Hospital, Mountain View, AR. (870) 269-4242 or (870) 269-4241. Any other references are available to anyone upon request. Our personal cell numbers are: (870) 504-1122 or (870) 504-1108, call or text anytime.

We are by no means in this for the money or recognition. You cannot buy love, which these animals desperately need, and anyone with common sense knows leaving these animals to sit and wait for a hopefully responsible adopter to come along is not the "right" thing to do! A small cage and lack of human contact only sets them up for disease and despair. It takes humility, sacrifice, and selflessness to make a difference to these animals, not politics and the all-mighty dollar.

As we have said once before, our actions will always speak louder than their words.

April Westling