Those responsible for the Ark. seize animal shelter after reports of abuse


HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. – Mayor Kevin Smith executed search and seizure warrants against a local animal shelter after reports of animal cruelty.

Officials said Helena-West Helena Police officers and Helena-West Helena Water Department workers attended the shelter on Tuesday over an unpaid water bill of more than $ 29,000 .

At the scene, officers reportedly saw garbage cans overflowing with garbage, as well as piles of garbage and debris strewn throughout the property. Officials say officers also saw dogs in wire kennels and smelled “an overwhelming odor of feces and ammonia” in the warehouse.

Police reportedly took statements from two volunteers on Wednesday who said they witnessed animal mistreatment, neglect and abuse. Witnesses also reportedly told officers that several of the dogs they helped move suffered from heartworms and other parasites.

Smith said the refuge was once something that stood out from the cruelty seen in recent weeks and months.

“A shelter that was once a champion of animal welfare and fought fiercely against animal cruelty and inhumane treatment, has since become a place of animal accumulation, mistreatment and worse,” said Smith said.

Helena-West Helena Police Chief James Smith says what he saw at the Humane Society of the Delta is hard to understand.

“There were several animals that had wounds, lacerations on the body. Just a horrible crime scene there, ”he said.

The director of the shelter, Reta Merritt Roberts, was arrested at this mobile home located on the shelter’s property and charged with a Class D felony for cruelty to animals. Police also removed a child from the address where he lived was described as “dirt” and notified the Department of Social Services.

Thursday’s operation comes after months of complaints from volunteers and the public about the conditions of the “no kill” refuge and a thorough investigation by the city.

“The purpose of this facility was originally set to be animal control for our city and county and it has failed miserably in recent years,” said Mayor Smith.

Authorities estimate that more than three hundred dogs are in the sprawling complex where shelters are tattered or lying on the ground.

“Some animals don’t even have a shelter,” said Mike Wheeler, president of the Arkansas State Animal Control Association. “There are rats, they eat rats, there is raw sewage that they sit in. It’s just not, it’s not what animal welfare should be.”

WREG reported several initiatives to the shelter, including in June when the Humane Society of the Delta took in more than 100 cats, in one of the biggest animal rescue cases Arkansas has ever seen.

The Humane Society of the Delta had not released a statement Thursday morning, but the group’s Facebook page was recently updated.

Smith said his first goal was to save the animals, then clean up the facility and rebuild it to healthy and satisfactory conditions.

“In a joint county and city law enforcement operation, and after a thorough investigation that includes other documents and eyewitness testimony, we are working to protect the health and safety of these animals, as well. only people who work here and are exposed to extreme conditions. levels of risk to health and the environment. Smith said this morning.

The operation will be led by the Helena West Helena Police Department and is joined by the Phillips County Sheriff’s Department, Municipal Animal Control, City Environmental Law Enforcement Officer , as well as others who assist in the care and assessment of the animal population. .

The Tunica Humane Society says it is organizing a team of volunteers who can provide basic care to animals that have been removed from the shelter. Anyone with experience rescuing animals who can help are asked to call the Tunica Humane Society at 662-519-1700.

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