The HOPE Humane Society in Fort Smith, a no-kill shelter, is the largest in the state and region, but it is operating on less than it needs.
Volunteers and donations are down due to summertime activities by vacationing families and out-of-school students.
Whether it is time, materials or monetary donations, the shelter has seen an increase in demand, said HOPE Humane Society Executive Director Raina Rodgers.
“The fact that we really haven’t had enough community involvement, we really could use a boost,” said Rodgers. “There’s no doubt about it. There’s always a struggle in the nonprofit industry, but especially where animals are concerned and we are the biggest Humane Society in the state, actually in multiple states. We are the biggest around for a ways.”
There are no humane societies in Alma or Van Buren, for example, so many of the strays and abused animals are brought in to Fort Smith.
It’s a downhill slope, funneling into Fort Smith, Rodgers explained.
“A lot of people don’t know what’s going on, and you wouldn’t have any idea of the volume unless you came and saw it, and a lot of people really don’t want to come down and see,” she added.
Any kind of help is needed, from volunteering to help building new dog walking areas, to just walking the dogs in the existing three fenced-in areas and helping clean up.
Because of the lack of help locally, the HOPE Humane Society is beginning to seek help from areas outside of Fort Smith with a major adoption event in Fayetteville scheduled for June 29-30. The shelter began transporting dogs and cats for donation to northern states last year.
“Any influx of community involvement would be amazing, whether it’s donations of money, usable items, or any amount of time, or spreading the word,” Rodgers said.
While they have materials donated to put in more walking areas, they need help putting them up.“It’s really an enriching area for the animals, but, unfortunately, they don’t get enough time to spend out there because there’s not enough room for everyone,” Rodgers said of the open areas for dogs. “Sometimes, we can put a whole bunch of them out there and let them have a field day for a little while, but there are hundreds of dogs and they don’t get to have enough time because there’s not enough fenced-in space.”
Until June 30 an anonymous donor is willing to match dollar-for-dollar donations from the public. An easy new way to donate to the Hope Humane Society is to text “Give” to (479) 777-4388. Prompts take people to a secure site to donate.
Storm Nolan, board member for the HOPE Humane Society, is confident that Rodgers was a good pick for the interim executive director position. Joe Sprague, former executive director, has stayed on to serve as the shelter’s grant writer.
“I’ve worked with Raina before, and she’s a very good motivator and manager of people,” Nolan wrote in an email. “She wholeheartedly believes in the mission of the Humane Society, and she’s committed to helping us get our operations in better order so that we can get back on a financially sound footing.”
Rodgers led by example, too, and brought home a foster puppy her first day on the job.
“Raina is excited to be working with such a committed crew that we have at the shelter — our employees are there because they love the animals and want to see them find their forever homes,” Nolan added.
Rodgers’ background ranges from entrepreneurial to managerial. She started and ran a coffee shop in downtown Fort Smith for some time. She has a career in talent recruiting and has also done construction management.