On a recent trip through the Texarkana Arkansas Animal Care and Adoption Center, I noticed a kennel marked "Mayors Dog." I called Mayor Wayne Smith and found out that he boarded his dog at the shelter when he went out of town. This really hit me the wrong way because the kennels at the shelter are supposed to be used for dogs needing homes.

Usually two to five dogs occupy each of the 27 kennels on the adoption floor. That doesn't include all of the owner-surrendered and stray dogs kept in the downstairs holding area.

According to shelter director Connie Slater, in the past two weeks 206 dogs were brought into the shelter and 34 were adopted. On average, there are 500 animals in the shelter at any given time and 54 animals were put down last week alone.

This over-population of homeless dogs at the shelter is what makes me cry every time I see one of those Sarah McLachlan commercials. The arrogance of using a shelter kennel to board your personal dog is beyond my comprehension and is an abuse of power. I saw the "Mayors Dog" sign at the shelter last year too, so that means this wasn't a one-time thing.

When I spoke to Mayor Smith earlier this week, he told me that he adopted a boxer from the shelter and that his dog "likes to go back to visit." I think it is great the mayor adopted a dog and wish that more people would too.

Although Mayor Smith said that he provided dog food and paid a $10 per day fee (the same amount anyone would have to pay if their dog was picked up by Animal Control) that still doesn't make it 'okay' to do. That same $10 a night fee could've been paid to Boulevard Kennels, which is in the business of boarding animals. (See the list of boarding facilities below)

But rather than spend time fuming over something that I seriously doubt will ever happen again, I would like to focus on solutions to the problem.

First, the mayor obviously should not use the shelter to board his dog. Please do not call the shelter to complain. It is under-staffed and the hard-working people there need to care for our community's homeless animals. If you want to call someone contact City Hall where the mayor's office is located and voice your opinion on our Power959 Facebook page.

Second, everyone that wants to help these animals should spread the word about all of the great dogs and cats at our shelter that need to be adopted. You can do this by sharing our Provide a Pet a Pad story every week with your friends and family.

Third, make sure your pets are spayed and neutered. Female dogs DO NOT need to have a litter before they are fixed.

Fourth, volunteer at the shelter in some way. You can bathe or walk dogs, donate food, blankets or fees for vetting (spay/neuter). Please do not let the animals at the shelter suffer for the poor decisions made by humans.

Finally, if anyone (including the mayor) needs a place to board pets, here are five places that I recommend:

  1. Boulevard Kennels has several dog runs and places for your cats as well. I use them for boarding and bathing quite often. The cost to board a dog for one night is $10. 903-792-2266
  2. Two Shields Dog Training Academy and Boarding does excellent dog training. I think they can fix any problem your dog might have. The cost to board a dog for one night is $19. 903-838-3647
  3. Prancing Paws Doggie Daycare - Just like dropping a child off at a daycare, you can leave your pets to play while you are at work. The cost to board a dog for one night is $35. 903-223-8555
  4. Paw Paw Patch offers spots for one dog or room to leave several dogs together if you are a multi-dog family. The cost to board a dog for one night starts at $11. 903-831-7387
  5. Your Veterinarian. If you do not have a vet, below are the clinics in Texarkana that I recommend. I have used these vets for my personal and rescued dogs.

Wisdom Animal Clinic - 903-793-1193

Rankin Veterinary Clinic - 903-838-5000

Oubre Animal Clinic - 903-832-4559

Remember, the animal shelter is not a boarding facility. Please do not call them and ask to leave your pets overnight while you are out of town. Animal shelters are not the place to leave your beloved pets for any reason. It is a loud and uncomfortable spot for animals to stay. There is also a chance of your pet picking up kennel cough or something worse. If you want to see what it is like inside the shelter, check out the video at Provide a Pet a Pad which also shows the video that discovered the "Mayors Dog" sign.

Our local shelter is unfortunately a 'kill' shelter. If you are not sure what the means, watch what happens to dogs that aren't adopted from a kill shelter [WARNING: graphic content]. By the way, when you take your animal to the shelter it can be put to sleep the minute you surrender it.

If your pet becomes lost, be sure to visit the shelter at 203 Harrison, Texarkana, Ark. to see if they found him/her. File a lost report with the shelter and check back every day to see if your dog has been picked up--do not simply call because your description of your dog may not be the same as what someone else sees. Read more about what to do if your pet is lost.

Mayor Smith said he is a big advocate for animals and donates to the shelter often. You can do the same. Please spay and neuter your pets to help prevent the over-population of homeless-unwanted animals in the shelter. Or better yet, open your heart and home and adopt one of the many animals available for adoption at the shelter.