TEXARKANA, AR (KSLA) - A Texarkana teen is taking the initiative in a big way to help ease overcrowding at the local animal shelter and encourage more animal adoptions in the city.
Texarkana Animal Adoption Center (TACAC) officials say they have a lot of animals coming in, but not enough going out to keep up with the increase. It's become such a problem that Texarkana, AR Mayor Ruth Penny Bell suggested this past summer that an ordinance might be needed to address the root cause of the problem.
13-year-old Shelby Dunphy-Day has been on a mission for a few years now to make a difference by setting up a non-profit organization called Shelby's P.A.W.S to raise money that will go toward promoting animal adoption, spay & neuter programs and encouraging more community involvement. She serves as the non-profit's executive director.
"In 5th grade, I came to my teacher and said, 'I want to do something so big for the shelter,'" recalls the seventh-grader, who now attends North Heights Jr. High.
A brainstorming session for a leadership project sparked the idea for a Six Leg Fun Run & 5K to raise money for the cause, and the first such fundraiser was held last year. Participants can run or walk with their four-legged friends or borrow one from the TACAC. This year, the race will raise money for an adoption trailer for the shelter.
"It has running water heat and air so we can go do mobile adoptions and stuff like that and we also use it for emergency situations," Shelby says.
Shelby says her interest in helping the animals goes all the way back to first grade when a visit to her class from animal adoption advocates opened her eyes to the problem.
"I asked what happened to these animals how long they were there and stuff like that. Well, the answer I got was heartbreaking and I never want to hear those words again."
Shelby said they need to raise $37,000 for the adoption trailer, which shelter leaders say should help increase animal adoption rates.
"It is just another avenue to help us get the animals out and more public exposure for the animals," said Texarkana Animal Adoption Center Director Charles Lokey.