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ASPCA Responds to Reports of Shelter Dogs Being Released Into East Arkansas National Forest

June 17, 2008

NEW YORK, June 17, 2008—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today responded to recent news reports surrounding Helena-West Helena, Ark., Mayor James Valley’s involvement in the release of stray dogs to a nearby national forest due to inadequate shelter space.

“Lack of resources is no excuse for animal cruelty,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “Humane animal control is a vital community service and should be given support just as communities must support police, fire and other local services. Furthermore, releasing domesticated animals into the wild where they cannot fend for themselves is inhumane, and is by no means a suitable response to inadequate shelter space.”

The ASPCA does not condone the release of domesticated animals into the wild and firmly believes that the humane care of domesticated animals involves meeting their physical, emotional, behavioral and social needs, part of which is having close, daily relationships with humans. In addition, proper animal control is not only vital to the humane treatment of animals, it is also critical to protecting the general public and increasing community safety.

“The abandonment of animals is a Class A misdemeanor in Arkansas,” said Randall Lockwood, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Anti-cruelty Initiatives and Legislative Services at the ASPCA. “The Mayor’s recommendation to release these dogs into the wild is supporting a blatant act of animal cruelty. He is advocating, aiding and abetting the commission of a crime.”

In an effort to help resolve the situation and ensure the local authorities are taking proper action, the ASPCA has contacted the Mayor’s office, the city attorney, the state prosecutor and the Arkansas Animal Control Association. At this time, no official comment has been made by any of the local officials.

While the ASPCA has long been the voice for animals nationwide, its law enforcement powers are limited to acts of animal cruelty in the five boroughs of New York City. Members of the public can take action by contacting the Arkansas State Attorney General and asking him to take this matter seriously.