GURDON, AR - An Arkansas animal control officer battling illegal dumping of dogs throughout his community says he just wants to keep animals alive in his Clark county shelter, overflowing with abandoned dogs.
Animal advocates say dumping and animal control issues are a major problem in many rural parts of Arkansas.
Gurdon's animal control officer, Ty Oppelt, says for every dog he's called to pick up, as long as his shelter is full, that's another he's forced to put down.
Greyhound-mix sisters Emmy and Amber are basically attached at the hip and Oppelt is trying to get them adopted together to keep their bond in tact, while also trying to find homes for dozens more currently filling the shelter to capacity.
"We get a lot of dumped dogs. This little one over there is one such dog, just dumped off at the park, don't know who did it and why. It's a cruel thing to do, that dog was looking for whoever dumped her off," says Oppelt.
He's worked for roughly five years to change the shelter's image.
"It was pretty bad. I call them a catch 'em and kill 'em shelter cause that's pretty much what they did," he added.
Instead of killing most of the dogs, Oppelt promotes adoption on Facebook and welcomes volunteers.
"I love having someone in the community in his position to love the animals," says volunteer DeAnne Davis.
But for every good volunteer, Oppelt finds someone else making his job harder and the community, less safe.
"I also see on the outskirts of town near the schools, they dump dogs," Davis says.
"Eventually somebody is going to get bit by one of these feral dogs and it's going to be a problem," Oppelt says of the deteriorating situation.
As the lone animal control officer, he's often overwhelmed by how many dogs need him but says in the same way he committed to the paw print tattoo on his hand, he's dedicated to making the shelter a place where dogs come not to die, but to find a new life.
"I do it for them," he says.
Oppelt says he's trying to get as many dogs as possible adopted now because he expects to get a rush of abandoned animals in the Spring when people start dumping pets they bought for Christmas but no longer want.
For more information on the Gurdon Animal Shelter, click here