Dogs seized from NLR animal rescue to be sent to other area rescue group

This black Labrador retriever is one of 13 dogs that were seized from a North Little Rock warehouse being operated by animal rescue group, Southern Paws Transport. (Photo: KATV)

The director of a North Little Rock dog rescue group appeared in court on Thursday to answer to nearly a dozen animal code violations related to the condition of dogs being housed at a warehouse operated by the rescue group.

Whitney Ransom, director of Southern Paws Transport, was expected to enter a plea in North Little Rock District Court on Thursday afternoon. Ransom’s attorney asked for the hearing to be delayed, but in the meantime came to an agreement with the city to place the dogs with another rescue group.

Ransom was reluctant to sign the agreement. Southern Paws board members who say they support Ransom, claim there had been a lot of time and effort put into taking care of the dogs in question.

According to the agreement, the 13 dogs seized from Southern Paws on September 1, will be picked up by Karen Kelly who runs Cynder Creek Animal Rescue in Pulaski County.

“The ultimate goal for any rescue, whether they’re struggling or not – and rescues do struggle, but the ultimate goal is to find these animals a good, quality forever home,” said Kelly, adding that obviously Southern Paws had hit a rough patch in its operation.

Laurie Laing, a Southern Paws board member, talked to reporters after court on Thursday. Laing said the rescue group has apparently strayed from its original mission. The group is committed to finding homes for locally abandoned dogs, but it seems as if Southern Paws has bit off more than it can chew.

“Originally Southern Paws’ mission, if I may start there, was to pull dogs from high kill animal shelters,” said Laing. “We still do that, but before those dogs were pulled they were actually tagged for a rescue so they had somewhere to go before we pulled them.”

Laing said she is concerned that despite the seizure of 13 of the rescue group’s dogs last week, Southern Paws is apparently still taking in dogs that don’t necessarily have a place to go once they are taken into the group’s custody.

The situation involving Ransom and the number of dogs the rescue group has been accepting has created some conflict between Southern Paws’ board members. According to Laing, several of the group’s board members are supporting Ransom, but some believe she isn’t able to do the job anymore and like Laing believe it’s time for her to resign.

“I think it would be best for her to step down as director of Southern Paws Transport,” said Laing.

Ransom will be back in court in the coming months to finally enter a plea on the 11 separate misdemeanor charges she faces in reference to the dogs and warehouse they were held in.

According to Nathan Hamilton, communications director for the City of North Little Rock, Ransom was charged with seven counts of housing a banned breed, one charge of not having a permit for an animal establishment, one charge for housing animals in poor conditions, and because there was no permit to house the number of animals that were being housed, Ransom was also charged with surpassing the city’s limit of four dogs per household.

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