New Van Buren Animal Shelter Works To Save Animals

VAN BUREN (KFSM)- After much feedback from the residents of Van Buren, Almost Home Shelter is in its starting phases in an effort to find loving homes for dogs while avoid being euthanized.

Rebecca Kaszubowski and Jo Ellen Banhart have joined together along with dozens of volunteers to create Almost Home. The shelter is now a non-profit organization.

"I just put a couple of community notices in the paper and started having some meetings," Kaszubowski said. "Joellen was one of the first ones to step up and say I'll partner with you and we'll get this thing done."

Instead of the dogs going to surrounding area humane societies, animal control can bring them to Almost Home.

"Other facilities have their own issues," Kaszubowski said. "Quite honestly, a community this size can certainly take care of their own."

Now, the women are trying to spruce the place up along with a list of more than 45 volunteers, making it even more homely for their four-legged friends.

"This entire area the city has cleaned up," Kaszubowski said. "We are trying to get funding and we are going to put a [fence] in this entire area and it will all be enclosed."

The previous pound had a five-day policy, which stated dogs would be euthanized if they were not claimed during those five days. But, this new animal shelter is changing that.

"The dogs are brought in by animal control and there's a five-day wait," Banhart said. "So, animal control has a say over those dogs for five days. After the five days, they are turned over to Almost Home and we do the necessary steps to get [the dogs] ready for adoption."

From giving them names to assigning collars and leashes to each dog that comes in, the group makes sure these dogs feel safe and are well taken care of.

"It's an indescribable joy," Banhart said, "to know we are making a change."

"We have cried," Kaszubowski said. "We are so exhausted. We both work full-time jobs and we're out here seven nights a week and it's not easy work. But, you look at those faces. You look at those families and those eyes and you watch that family embrace that dog and tell you they love it, you think, which one of y'all wouldn't be here today?"

Volunteers like Connie Martin agree, helping the dogs and the community gives them a sense of satisfaction.

"More importantly, in six weeks, no dogs have been euthanized," Martin said. "We've had dogs who have been reunited, we've had about eight adoptions and the dogs that are here now, we'll find them homes."

Almost Home has averaged about one adoption per week. Community events are in the works to spread the word about the shelter and its efforts.

For more information about the shelter, you can visit the Almost Home Shelter Facebook page.

To find out how you can volunteer or help, you can contact Rebecca at 479-462-3122 or Jo Ellen at 479-629-0056.