FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — City leaders passed two decisions Tuesday (Aug. 6) that aim to cut back on the stray animal crisis in Fort Smith.
Animal advocates in Fort Smith say it's time for action.
“Well, we have an emergency in Fort Smith," Jesse Fenwick said.
After weeks without a dropoff site, stray pets in Fort Smith picked up by animal control will now have a place to go.
By a vote of 6-1, city directors passed a resolution contracting Kitties and K9's to be the official dropoff site for stay animals in the city of Fort Smith. This deal is for two years and cost $650,000.
While the contract has passed, in a couple of weeks a few additions or revisions will be made.
"The issues surrounding the city’s ability to always make sure there is space for animals that are brought in by animal control," Carl Geffken, City Administrator said.
Some locals believe this contract is a step in the right direction for the future of animal services in Fort Smith.
"If everyone can just let cooler heads prevail and work through this contract, it’s the best deal for Kitties and K9s and the deal for us as a city. I think everything is going to be great," Fenwick said.
Brenda Altman works with Kitties and K9's says now that a contract is in place, it's time to hit the ground running.
"We have a contract now and we need a lot of community support, we need volunteers to help us with the dogs walking, we have not hired any employees at all yet, so we will be busy doing that," Altman said.
This deal is specifically for the City of Fort Smith to bring stray animals, not for residents to drop off unwanted animals.
Kitties and K9's will now offer adoptions.
This comes after HOPE Humane Society closed its doors for good.
In addition, officials came to an agreement to implement a new policy stating pet owners will be required to pay an annual fee for their animals.
Dog and cat owners will now be required to pay a pet licensing fee each year. If the animal is spayed and neutered or microchipped, the fee will be $10 a year per pet, and if the pet is not spayed or neutered, the fee will be $60.
City administrators say there will be consequences if a pet owner does not license their animals.
"If there are those animals that are running at large and not doing the right thing we can assess a penalty for that," Geffken said.
The policy will go into effect in 30 days.