The Humane Society of the Ozarks was founded in 1946 and was originally named the ‘Fayetteville Humane Society’. This organization was started by a group of Fayetteville citizens who were concerned about the welfare of animals in our area. Among these founders were Herb and July Fowler, Betty Lighton and Kathryn Stout. At that time, there was no shelter or animal services program for stray, lost or abandoned dogs. Instead, these dogs were being severely neglected and mistreated. During the first 25 years of existence our work was concentrated in Fayetteville and we helped institute the city’s first animal services program and funded the construction of the first animal shelter jointly with the City of Fayetteville in 1965. The Society continued to help improve animal welfare by helping to oversee some shelter operations, adoption efforts, fundraising events and by introducing a small educational program in the public schools.
During the 1980s, the scope of the Society’s operations was expanded to a more regional focus and our name changed to ‘Humane Society of the Ozarks’ to reflect that change. In response to the expanded population and needs of the shelter, and after thorough research regarding a radically different structure, the Society again embarked on a major fund-raising drive to provide a large portion of the construction costs for a new shelter. In 1991, the newly expanded and greatly-improved shelter was inaugurated. It was operated by the Society for the next four years, at which time the City assumed responsibility for its administration.
During the 1990s, with the shelter handed over to the City’s operations, the HSO began focusing solely on outreach, funding and education and even more on rescue. With little enforcement effort by government authorities in the areas outside Fayetteville and Springdale the majority of responsibility for these areas fell to the members of HSO. As a result HSO persuaded the Washington County Quorum Court to appoint its first full-time Animal Services Officer and purchase the first vehicle designed for use with animals. The HSO also used a beneficence from the will of Melissa V. Henderson to launch a low-cost spay and neuter program through which qualified pet owners had their pets altered for $50 (to date, this successful program has assisted in well over 10,000 such operations). Finally, when the City constructed a veterinary clinic unit on the site of the Shelter, the HSO provided 50% of the salary for an on-site veterinarian and also provided an allowance for veterinary supplies and materials.
During the first decade of the new millennium, the HSO provided support for City of Fayetteville animal ordinances (e.g., banning the chaining of dogs, encouraging spaying and neutering). The Society began focusing more robust efforts on cruelty and neglect prevention and case investigation and ensuring that animals subjected to cruel and neglect situations are removed from those situations, receive veterinary and humane care and find loving homes through adoption.
Notably, the creation of the HSO actually began a full 8 years before the founding of the national organization, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Throughout its history, the HSO has upheld and typified the premise that humans have the moral and legal responsibility to care for animals. As the HSO approaches its seventh decade, it continues to be dedicated to promoting the caring treatment of the animals who contribute so greatly to our humanity.
Our Organization Today:
The Humane Society of the Ozarks has expanded to serve Washington, Benton, Madison and Carroll county. We have come a long way in the animal cruelty world in the state of Arkansas since 1946 and of significant impact was the first bill signed into law making cruelty to animals a felony. Unfortunately we still have a huge animal overpopulation problem in Arkansas and animals are still being abused and neglected and can’t speak for themselves. It takes all of the animal organizations, shelters and rescue groups helping and working together to make a difference. That is why HSO partners with other organizations on several of their programs and even distributes grants to other organizations in need.
The Humane Society of the Ozarks is not a shelter facility. All of our animals are either in foster care or boarding at local veterinarians or doggie day care facilities. We actively work to overcome the challenges causing animals to be abandoned, abused and overpopulated in Northwest Arkansas. We believe the main causes are economic stress, lack of proper education in pet care and lack of informational resources. In response to these challenges, we have developed several programs to benefit the pets and pet-owners of Northwest Arkansas. We also actively work with area communities to improve and meet the growing demands and expectations of today’s shelter.
We are 501 c 3 non-profit organization and we do not receive any government funding. Nor are we associated with, or receive funds from, the Humane Society of the United States. Funding for our programs comes directly from individuals and businesses. To see how you can help, click here.