Many people do not get involved in animal rescue simply because they feel that they cannot make a significant dent in the problem of animal homelessness. True, the problem IS overwhelming. But what if everyone tried to make a difference in a small area? Would that not contribute to making a huge difference in the big picture? That is what a group of residents decided to do in an area of Arkansas called Hot Springs Village. Meet the dedicated people behind The Animal Welfare League Of Hot Springs Village!
On a cool, sunshiney day in Arkansas, we were met at the campground of Hot Springs National Park by the some of the selfless volunteers of The Animal Welfare League Of Hot Springs Village, Shelley, Nancy, Liza, Michelle and Brandon.
They agreed to film the latest Arkansas edition of Stop Hounding Me!
Hot Springs Village is the largest gated community in the United States with more than 26,000 heavily wooded acres. You may not have heard of Hot Springs Village in Arkansas if you are not from this state, but for the residents in this community, the AWL (The Animal Welfare League Of Hot Springs Village) is a literal lifesaver to animals, and a peace of mind for people. According to their website, the AWL is “organized for the charitable purpose as a rescue organization who mission is to place all rescued and surrendered adoptable animal companions into loving homes and to prevent the overpopulation of unwanted animals.”
This may seem like a worthy goal to many rescues and shelters across the country. But how the AWL goes about it is indeed special.
We immediately fell in love with The Hot Springs Village Animal Welfare League when we saw their Facebook page. In order for us to be able to tell a rescue’s story, their social media presence must do some of that for us! Although this rescue’s coverage may be primarily in their immediate area, they want the world to know that the animals they have under their care are adoptable and that they will go to great lengths to showcase them, like Mallory. Her Facebook post story and picture made us wish we had more room in the RV.
Mallory has been with AWL for a long length of time, seeing her friends come and go. You can see how much Mallory wants to be loved. Because the Hot Springs Village area has many elderly residents, a dog of Mallory’s size is not a perfect match. We made it one of our goals this week to showcase this wonderful girl in hopes that HER perfect match is out there. We are confident that one of our fans who share her story will make that perfect match.
Not all people can do what AWL does. They did not have to begin this rescue in 1991. But it took a small group of people to decide then that they would try and make a difference by starting with their community. But it also took their community support to make it work, and we could see immediately by the volunteers’ joyful demeanors that this was something that they wanted to do…not something they had to do. This rescue is operated by a completely volunteer staff. No one, including their Board Of Directors receives any compensation for the countless hours they work. They even have a small, physical shelter in their community that is also operated on a volunteer basis. This being said, they rely heavily on a network of foster homes.
Shelley, AWL’s adoption coordinator told us that quite a few of their foster parents have built additions onto their homes to house more animals, or even bought a new house based on the amount of room they could dedicate to this rescue and fostering! That is truly community support, and this rescue would be unable to continue without them.
On this Adventure Of A Lifetime, we have noticed a prevailing mark of success when it comes to animal rescues. First of all, all successful rescues work well in support of their county’s animal control and also with other area rescues. The AWL definitely works cooperatively with their local Animal Control. Secondly, we see that successful rescues realize that their first line of defense is an aggressive spay and neuter program combined with education. The AWL does this in a wonderful way not only in the boundaries of Hot Springs Village, but graciously beyond.
To reduce the number of strays and unwanted animals that ultimately end up in the shelter system, which is a large problem in their area, they operate low-cost, mobile spay and neuter clinics and mobile vaccanations for low income pet owners in the surrounding communities. They also work with area vets to provide vouchers during the times the mobile clinics are not operating. Certainly, this is an invaluable service. By reducing the numbers of unwanted puppies and kittens, this reduces the numbers being euthanized.
Every animal here at AWL has a story. We were told of owner surrender stories that broke our hearts. But even when they were relating these stories to us, something touched our hearts deeply. The volunteers telling the examples had no judgement to the owners surrendering their pets. Why? They were thankful that they could be there for them. This was a refreshing and different attitude for us. Whether an animal is being surrendered because the owner cannot afford the cost, or has had a child, or any other reason, AWL believes it is their job to help these animals find a home that truly wants them forever. They know that if they turn them away, not only will these animals probably end up on the streets or worse, but people may not come to them in the future. What a kind attitude to have towards all.
The Animal Welfare League Of Hot Springs Village also believes education is key, and the younger generation of children in their area most certainly have their awareness raised. AWL distributes a publication focusing on the humane treatment of animals to all elementary students in three school districts, but also provide books to their libraries as well. They get the children involved by sponsoring essay contests which also focuses on showing kindness to animals.
As you can see, AWL is not only a wonderful organization to their gated community, but far beyond. There are many other things they do that go unnoticed like donating supplies to needy pet owners, and far more kind acts than we have room for today. Their growth and success has been due to the support from their residents, but also beyond those gates as well. People here in this area of Arkansas know that if they are in need for emergency vet care or are facing hard decisions to their own well-being, this rescue is there for them. Programs such as the Angel Fund, Looking Ahead For Pets (LAP), and The Help Us Go (Hug) program show their dedication. Help Us Go is AWL’s effort to transport large dogs or shy cats to other states that have strict spay/neuter laws or to sanctuaries. Surely, it takes a substantial amount of funds to operate these programs, and donations are needed.
We ask our readers one question today. Could YOU follow the example of this Arkansas rescue and make a small step for animal rescue where you live to make a big difference? We all live somewhere and that somewhere most certainly has animals that need your help. You may not realize what a big affect your efforts will make to the animal rescue community. Certainly in 1991, AWL may not have realized that their example would be one to follow for the country. But we want to tell them that they most certainly are. And if the animals they have helped could talk, they would tell them too.
The Animal Welfare League Of Hot Springs Village is a totally volunteer organization with well over 100 volunteers managing their Adoption Center, Spay/Neuter Clinics, and other programs. The AWL is a nonprofit Arkansas corporation with 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. The League receives all of its funds from donations, membership dues, fundraising events, and small grants. Although they work cooperatively with the Hot Springs Village Animal Control, they receive no financial support from Hot Springs Village.