Benton no-kill shelter gives pets a second chance at a home
Imagine living your entire life trapped in a small wire cage without any entertainment, companionship or – worst of all – never experiencing what it is to be loved.
From the moment Ninna Lopez saw Jo Hannah, a 10-year-old black miniature poodle, she knew their was something special about her. Despite arriving malnourished from another kill shelter, covered in her own excrement and with cataracts in both eyes, Lopez looked beyond the obvious signs of neglect and opened her arms and heart to save a dog that just needed some love and attention.
After working several years with a non-profit animal rescue group, Lopez and Laura Mitchell decided to embark on their own adventure.
They found a foreclosed home in Benton and, though it needed some work, Lopez said they saw its potential to be the home they were looking for. A few coats of fresh paint, some construction work and two doggy doors later, Ninna's Road to Rescue opened its doors and has already welcomed its first four-legged residents into a new, loving environment.
“Our arms are their road to rescue,” Lopez, founder and director, said as she explained their name and purpose.
According to their website, Ninna’s Road to Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is “to rescue and re-home small-breed dogs, to include senior dogs and dogs in kill-shelters; to provide assistance to pet owners needing to re-home their pet via our Adoption Assistance Program; and to provide responsible pet ownership education.”
The home features two rooms for the small breed dogs, a separate space for senior-aged cats, a full grooming room and a backyard with plenty of room to run. Before residing at Ninna's, the animals are taken to the Benton Animal Hospital where they are given a general check-up, spayed or neutered and tested for heartworms.
To fully treat a dog, Lopez said it costs approximately $150. Their adoption fees, though, range from $80 to $150. Despite using her own savings to jump start the rescue home, Lopez said they operate strictly on monetary donations and volunteer workers.
“It is solely [funded] through caring community donors,” she said. “The donations received are put directly toward the animals.”
The dogs currently living at Ninna's are two short-haired chihuahuas named Bonnie and Clyde, who were rescued from a kill shelter, and a long-haired chihuahua named Nico, who was found at an abandoned home.
Lopez said it's a dream come true to see the dogs so happy in their new environment.
“I want them to feel grass under their feet, have a warm bed to sleep in and to just feel loved,” she said.
Jo Hannah's story, however, has a much different ending. Due to her extreme health conditions and age, Lopez said there's nothing more the veterinarians can do – Jo Hannah will spend her last days comfortably in the arms of people who have dedicated their life to saving animals just like her.
“Senior dogs are the ones that touch us the most so we try to help whenever we can with them,” Lopez said. “We feel like they deserve dignity and to live out the rest of their life in a loving home.”
When Jo Hannah's time comes, Lopez said she will be right there with her.
“We can't help them all, but we try to make a difference in a few lives,” she said. “I love them all, but we don't have the ability to save them all.”
Lopez credited her husband, Jim Lopez, and son, Richard Lopez, as well as President Laura Mitchell, Bill Bihn, Cindy Bickham and Dianna Gragston for their roles in building and supporting Ninna's Road to Rescue.
“We couldn't have done this without them,” Lopez said. “When you do something like this, it requires a lot of emotional support. Thankfully, we have that.”
For more information, visit www.roadtorescuela.org or Ninna's Road to Rescue Facebook page.