Wynne Animal Rescue Shelter to close after city’s service complaints

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WYNNE, Ark. — An animal shelter in Wynne, Arkansas, that houses 110 dogs and 12 cats is slated to close at the end of October, after the city terminated its contract with the nonprofit that runs it.

The City of Wynne has canceled its contract with the operators of the Wynne Animal Rescue Shelter, saying the owners failed to provide adequate animal control.

Kathy Norris, director of Wynne Friends of Animals, which runs the shelter, rescue and a clinic, said without the contract, there's no money to provide services.

"This has been a passion of mine, to save these animals," Norris said. "It's just been a passion. I can't explain it."

For Norris, the thought of having to close the Wynne Animal Rescue Shelter is more than she can take. She and her husband Mike have run the nationally recognized shelter since 2007.

But the shelter will close after the City of Wynne cancelled its contract with the Norrises' group for not providing animal control for the city.

"We were not getting the service we were contracted for," Mayor Jennifer Hobbs said. "We had numerous complaints that people weren't answering their phones, they weren't responding to the calls, and that was something we addressed a couple of times through the year."

The sizable contract, $62,000 for animal control and an additional $15,000 for expenses, was signed in February with a clause that either party could break the contract with 30 days notice.

"We have never considered ourself animal control," Norris said. "We've always said we're animal rescue."

Norris said every effort has been made to respond to animal control calls, maintain the shelter and find homes for rescued dogs and cats.

"I have put my life and my heart and soul in this place," Norris said. "Mike and I have put our personal money. We have spent some of our retirement, and I can't do it anymore."

Supporters said Norris is doing a good job.

"They do great work," Wynne resident Joyce Sanders said. "My step-son got attacked a couple of weeks ago by a pit bull in my mom's yard. The Animal Shelter was out there within 20 minutes of us calling the police."

Wynne's mayor agreed the issue is an emotional one, but the city has no choice.

"Unless we come back to the table and reach another agreement, I'm assuming our relationship will be terminated," Hobbs said. "But we in no way asked the shelter to close or to vacate the city. That is strictly their choice and their response."

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