Following changes in Arkansas pet adoption laws, which placed restrictions on dog adoption, Carlisle resident Melodie Hardke set out on mission to help these four-legged friends.

According to Hardke, with the new state law, no dog can be adopted from the Carlisle Animal Shelter without receiving a rabies shot and being spayed or neutered. The city also requires a city license be purchased.

The city does have a part-time animal control officer, but he is not responsible for taking the dogs to the veterinarian when they are being adopted. Hardke said because there was no one to take these animals to the vet to be spayed, the dogs were sentenced to a life at the pound before being euthanized.

"I knew they weren’t going to be getting out of the shelter," Hardke said.

It was then, her journey with helping these dogs began.

Last fall, Hardke volunteered to set up appointments and take any dogs being adopted to the vet to be spayed or neutered, once their new owners agreed to pay the costs. She then began taking pictures of the animals and posting them onto the Carlisle Animal Shelter Facebook page in an effort to help find them new homes. Hardke also contacted a number of animal rescuers who were willing to take many of the dogs she was unable to find a home for locally.

Hardke said she publicizes the dogs upon arrival to the shelter, but owners do have five business days to claim their pet. She said after the time period laps, she begins trying to find the animal a new home and contacting rescues.

Before a rescue organization will take the dogs, they must first be removed from the shelter for a minimum of two weeks to insure that it had not contracted any type of sickness or disease. At this time, Hardke said she is the only foster home available for the dogs. She said when bringing each dog home, it is always emotional for both her and the dog.

"Just getting the dogs out of the shelter," Hardke said. "… It’s like they know they’ve been saved. Every one that has come out of there (the shelter) has been just a sweet and loving dog. It’s just crazy."

After the two to three week incubation period is up, Hardke said she then works with the rescues to set up a time and location for the dog to be picked up. She said while one has gone to Oklahoma, most of the dogs that have been rescued went to the northern United States area.

"Most of them are already adopted by the time they get there," Hardke said. "Or they go into foster homes."

Hardke said she does become attached to the animals while fostering them. She said she always finds letting them go emotional, but despite her heartache, she is compelled to continue on.

"If I don’t foster them, they won’t ever get out of the shelter," Hardke said.

Since Hardke began helping last fall, not one dog Carlisle Animal Shelter has been euthanized. Five dogs have been adopted and 17 have gone to a rescue.

"It’s very rewarding," Hardke said.

One thing she said she wished people would understand about animal shelters, is that not all dogs that come through are mixed breed dogs. She said she has had a full blooded lab, husky, Australian Shepard, Beagle and and other full blooded dogs.

"Not all are just Heinz 57," Hardke said. "Full blooded dogs end up in shelter too."

At this time, Hardke is only able to keep one or two dogs at her home each time. There are currently five dogs at the shelter: a female Shepard mix, a female black lab mix, a male hound dog mix , a female cattle dog and a female, possibly doberman mix.

Hardke said she is in need of foster families for the dogs being taken by rescue organizations. She said all the vet costs for them is paid by the rescues, not by the foster family.

"There is no cost to fosters," Hardke said. "All they have to provide is food, love and socializing for two to three weeks."

Hardke said although she has found many to be house trained, a fenced in back yard is a requirement under most circumstances.

The dogs at the animal shelter may also be adopted. Adoption cost is $80, which includes having the dog spay or neutered, a rabies shot and city license. For information about adopting a dog, becoming a foster family or how you can help contact Hardke at 501-772-1713.

Editor’s note: The dogs pictured with this story are available for adoption.