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Regional Pet Resource Center to Open in Bentonville and Serve Northwest Arkansas

Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization focused on ending the killing of pets in America's shelters by 2025, will open a regional pet resource center in Bentonville, Arkansas. The center will be a best-in-class model on how to serve pets and communities across the country while filling critical local service gaps in Northwest Arkansas. 

Once complete, the vibrant space will improve the lives of families and pets in the community by aligning with the legacy of both Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas as communities that pursue bold, innovative solutions that set the region apart locally and nationally.  

"Communities are beginning to move away from the traditional shelter model and toward a proactive, community resource beyond the confines of shelter walls," said Julie Castle, CEO, Best Friends Animal Society. "The Best Friends pet resource center will transform the way the public thinks about caring for lost and homeless pets and will be a source of pride for the people of Bentonville and Northwest Arkansas." 

The resource center will offer complementary programs to existing local and regional animal service organizations, and to traditional and non-traditional sheltering services. These include: 

Lifesaving services: intake of pets at greatest risk from Northwest Arkansas Partnership for Animal Welfare (NWA PAW) coalition shelters; adoption; foster and volunteer programs; a kitten care center; a community cat/trap neuter return program; a transport program that will relocate pets from areas of need to areas of want; and veterinary care for the center's pets.   

Pet ownership retention: resources for the public will include behavior classes to assist with common issues and support for struggling owners to helps pets to stay in the home; a pet food pantry for those in need supported by community donations; low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations and microchipping; and social service collaboration offering emergency housing for pets of community members experiencing temporary homelessness. 

Rehabilitation: services and spaces for pets that need extra training to get adopted and/or are recovering from an illness or injury.   

Best Friends Lifesaving Academy: mini bootcamps offering training and education for animal welfare leaders in Arkansas and surrounding states to learn proven lifesaving strategies. The Academy will also serve as the NWA PAW headquarters and provide family-friendly humane education and on-site enrichment opportunities. 

The Walton Family Foundation is providing Best Friends with an $892,500 grant for architectural design and engineering of the center. RA-DA will be the architect and partner with local engineering firm HFA. Best Friends worked with RA-DA previously to design award-winning pet lifesaving centers. Their national expertise on designing experiences within spaces will complement HFA, a firm that has deep roots in Northwest Arkansas. HFA will offer full engineering services and act as the local architect to help with construction administration and permitting. 

The estimated size of the space will be 20,000 square feet. The center will neighbor the newly announced 100-acre park on Bentonville's 8th Street corridor, an area that will be a gateway to surrounding urban and natural amenities. 

"The pet resource center's approach to outreach, training and education will redefine conventional practices to animal care," said Becca Hazlewood, Walton Family Foundation program officer. "By serving as a regional hub, the center has the potential to elevate care for pets in Northwest Arkansas, and also serve as a model to communities across the country." 

Philanthropic support from foundations, corporate partners and donors will fund the center's development. The projected opening date is fall 2021. 

Best Friends has been working on the ground in Northwest Arkansas for three years and leads the NWA PAW coalition. The group is comprised of 25 partner animal welfare agencies with a mission to use collaborative public and private partnerships to build and sustain no-kill communities. The coalition's goal is to save 90% or more of the dogs and cats in Northwest Arkansas. Since its formation earlier this year, the group has hosted workshops and adoption events, provided regional animal welfare partners with transportation for spay/neuter surgeries, and established a community grant program.