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story.lead_photo.caption Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista Five puppies were brought to the shelter last week after being found on a corner in Bella Vista. They are actually the fourth litter of puppies the shelter has seen in 2018. They are probably a boxer mix, shelter staff said.

Spring is the busy season at the Bella Vista Animal Shelter and it's starting early this year. Already, the shelter has taken in four litters of puppies.

Some puppies come in with their mother, shelter manager Laurie May said. That means they don't have to be bottle fed.

The latest litter of puppies, five dogs that appear to be boxer mixes, are old enough to eat on their own. The shelter will quarantine them for 10 days and then begin to look for new homes for the four females and one male.

The dogs were found in Bella Vista, May said, but she didn't want to speculate on how five puppies ended up on a street corner without their mother.

"They didn't get there on their own," she said.

The shelter takes all strays found in Bella Vista, she explained. They are never too full to take a stray dog. There have been times when two or even three dogs have shared one of the shelter runs in order to fit in more dogs.

It's different for cats. The shelter can't house all the stray cats that come its way and actually has a waiting list. People who find a stray cat might be asked to care for it in their own home until space opens up at the shelter.

"This is what happens when you don't spay or neuter your dog," May said, looking over the pile of wiggling brown fur.

If the owner of the mother dog had come in to ask for help, the shelter would have helped place the puppies, she said. But the owner would have been expected to keep the puppies during the process. Now that the puppies have become shelter dogs, not only will they be housed and fed, each one will be vaccinated and then spayed or neutered. It's a significant expense for the shelter, which is a nonprofit organization. According to state law, animals leaving any shelter must first be spayed or neutered.

The new puppies have already had their first set of vaccinations and will be fully up to date when they are adopted.

May has already seen a case of Parvo this spring and suspects it will be a bad year. Parvo is a virus that can affect all dogs which are not vaccinated. It can be fatal for puppies or elderly dogs, she said. Unvaccinated dogs who roam spread the virus.

The shelter usually hosts a low-cost vaccination clinic each spring, but she hasn't heard from the Sugar Creek Veterinary hospital to schedule it this year.

Typically, puppies are easier to place than full-grown dogs, but they do have a higher return rate, May said. Shelter staff tries to prepare new owners but it doesn't always work. The reason people give for trying to rehome a dog is usually something like the family is moving or expecting a new baby. Sometimes the new owners report that they can't train their puppy, but that usually means they haven't taken the time needed to train their dog, May said.

Local shelters sometimes send dogs to other regions where there are more people looking to adopt, but only certain dogs are eligible for that program and those are the same dogs that can find homes locally. May said she would rather find homes locally when possible.

The five brown puppies will be ready for new homes within a few days. Call the shelter for more information at 479-855-6020.

General News on 03/14/2018

Print Headline: Puppy season off to an early start at animal shelter

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