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« What info from the PetSmart Charities means for Shelters and Rescues | Main | KC Shelter Fundraiser this weekend »

June 10, 2010



Bender is an employee of HSUS. She represents and speaks for the organization. She is not a loose cannon. Next time some HSUS drone on a blog claims the organization is "against BSL", link to this.


I'm not seeing where she writes that volunteers are to blame. I feel like I'm trying to read between lines that don't exist.

Is it untrue that animal welfare agencies and municipal agencies should work together? Is that somehow an indictment against volunteers?

Unless you have more insight? Otherwise, it just seems like grasping at straws.


She talks about lack of cooperation then makes her FB comments private and bans the volunteers from her page. Huh.



There are several other comments from her on the Coalalition for Change at the Forrest City Animal Shelter facebook page. Note that she says "animal welfare organizations should strive to work with the municiple agencies" and not that the muniple organizations need to work with animal welfare organizations.

Based on her other comments about this (including saying that what happened wasn't cruelty) and that one of the 3 people she met with was the mayor who has repeatedly blamed the volunteers (in spite of accepting that the city messed up) it doesn't seem at all accidental in the way she worded this. The shelter staff is a mess, and the volunteers tried to shed light on this 9 months ago and nothing happened. And then, when a major tragedy strikes, it is the volunteers who need to try working with the city? It doesn't jive...


"Forrest City, AR left 14 dogs out in a run together for the entire weekend while they went on vacation. The dogs included both males and females, and two female dogs that were unaltered and in heat. The dogs were left there for at least 10 hours unsupervised and without water on a 91 degree day."

"What continues to harm the animals in this city is the lack of cooperative collaboration." - Bender

NO you don't "cooperate" with incompetent, uncaring #*($@&! that "let" stuff like this happen. The need to be FIRED. If cooperation worked in every situation we wouldn't have any issues with AC dept.

Why is she even involved? Oh that's right, to suck up to AC/Sherrif/City so they'll do her bidding next time she and H$U$ wants to seize some poor soul's animals.


Brent, the excerpt you posted doesn't imply or explicitly state blame, hence my confusion.

YesBiscuit! posted an excerpt that offers clearer finger-pointing. I understood the annoyance more with that particular excerpt is all.


Understandable Rinalia. I wasn't completely comfortable using the exerp that YB posted -- since I only saw a repost of it and not directly from the source itself - but the combination of all of the elements together (not to mention previous experience with the source) allowed me to feel comfortable with what the intent here was...

S Snow

Wow. I am stunned. I have known Desiree for, what? 10 to 12 years? To find out that this woman-- this long-time pit bull rescuer/guardian/advocate who has risked her freedom and life for individual pitties, who has driven cross-country to place them in loving homes, who has been physically beaten by dog-fighters, who quit school and at her own expense rushed to Louisiana post-katrina to care for the hundred of pitbulls few others were willing to work with, who had the nerve to question and insist on the investigation of the supposed rescue of the pitbulls who went to the now notorious Tammy Hanson in Arkansas, who personally takes doomed fighters to Burger King for a last cheeseburger and a romp in the park before holding them as they peacefully die at the vet's (I challenge you to find a greater love), who has suffered more tragedies in 10 years than most suffer over a lifetime-- to find out that she has responded officially as a representative of a nationwide organization created to protect animals with a cool "let's work together" is outrageous. Remind me to bitch slap her the next time she rips her heart out rescuing another shredded, emaciated pitbull. Look, I know what it's like to work as a vol at a shelter and be excrutiatingly frustrated. I KNOW. Desiree knows, too. She's been there, done that. My take on this is that she was probably just trying to ensure that cool heads prevailed in addressing the problem. There's a lot more that I am sure she would like to say on the issue. As for her history with Breed Bans-- I know that we'd all like to believe that pitties can all live happily ever after. But right now-- most of them can't. If you think that they can, I invite you to buy yourself some land, set up kennels, and start a refuge-- better yet, try to find safe homes for them all. Good luck. Look, I don't like breed bans-- I hope someday ours will be lifted-- but I understand the intent: to make it harder for any moron with a pittie in heat to breed another fighter. Hopefully, someday, when the gansta rage is chihuahua break-dancing competitions, pitties will once again be welcome in polite society. Until then, drastic measures have to be taken. Until you personally go on a raid, you will not understand in your gut, how horrible the situation is. The population is out of control. Desiree may not be perfect, she may be human, but I can guarantee you that she is no enemy of rescue, volunteerism, or animal welfare. I'm sure if you'd ask her, she could explain her position on this issue; I'm also sure that she could direct you to someone far more worthy of your energy and anger.



Why is "ensuring cool heads prevail" and saying that negligence isn't cruelty and undermining a local group that has been trying to create change preferred to actually getting upset with the city staff for cruelly treating animals? And then, providing her "official" report via facebook?

Why is supporting legislation that is leading to the increased killing of 'pit bulls' in shelters good for 'pit bulls'? We're not saving them by killing them. There are things like cruelty and neglect laws and dog fighting laws (which an HSUS operative should know all about) that are designed to prevent people from breeding fighting dogs -- more legislation that leads to killing them is not the solution. No one should be promoting a killing them to save them mentality...

At this point she has worked WITH officials to promote BSL that is killing animals.

She is working AGAINST officials who are trying to pass laws that prevent breed-specific laws.

And she's undermining local groups that are trying to prevent cruelty and abuse in their shelter.

And honestly, this is just the tip of the iceberg for her.

Remind me where she is 'helping' again?

On one hand, while there are certainly far worse people in the world than Ms. Bender, someone masquerading as an animal welfare person and then promoting policies that lead to the killing of thousands of animals is certainly worthy of my energy....

S Snow

official report? are you sure? those are usually private and provided to superiors as a matter of routine.

i don't think that there is any question that this kind of neglect is cruel. so is leaving an injured dog to suffer and die without any vet care. was anyone in your group aware of the dog's condition days before he died? i thought that your group had the authority to do something with him. maybe i'm wrong-- i'm just trying to get up to speed on this-- but it's beginning to sound like an instance of flawed judgment on several fronts. perhaps, d bender thought that intervention and education would effect greater change than legal action. not as satisfying as a splashy headline-- certainly not as much glory-- but, perhaps, a greater chance of improvement for the animals. it will be my hope that things will be better as a result of her encounter with your city officials. i know that you will keep your readers posted-- and that's a good thing.

we could go round and round all day about fates worse than death, but i guess you have to see them first hand repeatedly to chose death. if you have a safe place for the thousands of pit bulls who are dying, please let me know. i see them all the time in not-so-safe places. i'd much rather send them to a happy refuge than to the needle.


"Those are usually private and provided to superiors as a matter of routine"

Exactly -- which is why I put "official" in quotes and question why she would use facebook as a venue to call out the Forrest City Humane Society -- which, by the way, is not an organization I am a part of -- I'm only a distant observer. However, I think it's interesting that you come here to defend Ms. Bender for defending a city shelter for doing what you say "I don't think there is any question that this kind of neglect is cruel." Seems pretty cut and dry...and yet, defended by Ms. Bender.

And you've completely missed the point on Bender promoting MSN for pit bulls down there - -the legislation has DIRECTLY led to hundreds of 'pit bulls' losing their homes because of the ordinance and adding to what was already a problem of too many in the shelter. It's one thing to not be able to find homes for them all, it's quite another to promote legislation that leads to killing even more of them...and even upon seeing the increase in killing because of the ordinance, actively trying to get other places to pass similar legislation...

S Snow

i didn't read her statement as a defense of the city shelter... just an intentionally cautious public statement indicating that coordination between the city and the local group might have prevented this death and, perhaps, even the attack. i think that, if asked directly, d bender would tell you that she does indeed think what happened was cruel-- but she opted for education vs legal action. i know her too well to think otherwise.

i'm still interested in knowing whether the local group had the opportunity to save the dog's life by taking him to the vet.

our local "ban" simply limits the number you can have in the city and increases the license fee. homes unwilling to pay the fee and get them sterilized had to surrender them. does that wrench my heart? sure it does. but something drastic had to happen to control/reduce the population here. they aren't killing individual dogs to help them; they are killing individual dogs to get control over an explosive, dangerous situation. we have strays of all kinds here-- many are collected as bait dogs-- some are used to fight. desperate times call for desperate measures. no one who loves dogs wants to kill them, but something had to give here. again, i'm hoping that the ordinance will be rescinded when things get better.


You know, I'd go with her taking the conservative approach if she was doing it in an official writeup vs on facebook - -I think the forum really changes that dynamic. Why create the conversation on facebook (of all places) saying that it WASN'T cruelty?

If you have strays all over the place and people using them to fight - why is HSUS working with them to pass more laws vs trying to get them to enforce the ones they have?! Seems like both problems are solved if enforcement does their job.

Instead, there is "Drastic" legislation passed that leads to MORE animals getting killed at the shelter. So it appears that the strategy is to kill your way to success down there.

It's not like Little Rock's results are unique - the same thing happened here in Kansas City when we passed the law too. It's not like we don't know what happens when these laws get passed. And if it were a one-off situation I might even give her a pass on it...but she's been linked to at least three cases of pushing for this type of legislation.


Interesting irony. If the goal is that "pitties will once again be welcome in polite society" it is very hard to see how a "ban" on dogs, mandatory spay/neuter, or unfair licensing fees will ever lead to that. (And a side note: where I find people that are _truly_ polite, "pitties" have never been unwelcome. Perhaps your experience is different). Leash laws and enforcing the laws on the books would reduce the cruelty that stray dogs are victims of, as well as the unwanted litters that result from the lack of caring for them. It would dramatically reduce the smaller percentage of bites that occur outside the home (and the "inflation" of those numbers by the media) and allow a real animal welfare organization to concentrate on those owners who need to train or socialize their pets, or who need to learn how vulnerable children are when left alone with any dog. Public education can further increase their acceptance. Those who are paid to provide for animal welfare would have time for that if they weren't spending their time and taxpayer money trying to enforce unfair, unworkable, and ill-conceived policies. There are no good excuses for those policies, and that is why they lead to resentment and a lack of cooperation as well as wasting a lot of taxpayer dollars. Killing these dogs with kindness is still killing them.

I also thought it was ironic to hear "buy yourself some land, set up kennels, and start a refuge-- better yet, try to find safe homes for them all. " Instead of continuing to point the finger of blame or looking to someone else to solve a problem created by the community and laws these unfortunate victims come from, why doesn't the community take the responsibility to take a real, honest look at what impact their laws might be having and find another way? Maybe take a lesson from places where, in the absence of such laws, the problem doesn't exist.

It was written that "they are killing individual dogs to get control over an explosive, dangerous situation." That's like blowing up a car to avoid having an accident. This country killed dogs and cats for 70 years or more, and all it led to was greater numbers of dogs and cats being killed. When the vet colleges started teaching spay/neuter we saw remarkable reductions in those numbers, and they dropped even further as owners were educated about the need. It finally leveled out in the mid 90's as we got the low-hanging fruit (you might say) done, and in town after town where they make s/n more affordable they see the same population decrease. On the other hand in towns that insist on creating new laws that people don't follow, where low cost s/n is not made readily available to those with low incomes, where adoption is not treated as important, and where the towns insist on killing for control, overpopulation and its attendant cruelty continues to be a problem. There is a ton of evidence on this site alone, but you can also look at New Hampshire, Philly, Montana, even to the Netherlands and other countries - killing, breed specific legislation, and other onerous ordinances do not work. The job needs to be keeping the pets in the home, reducing unwanted litters, and making it easy for pet owners to care for their pets in a way that makes the community safer.

One other thing - statements like "i guess you have to see them first hand repeatedly to chose death" is pretentious and condescending, as well wrong-headed. It’s misspelled too. Many of the people posting on this blog see and experience these tragedies first hand and certainly have as much potential for pain over these situations as any one else. Please know that people here have, (and some still do), worked in and with shelters, both as employees and volunteers, with row upon row of bull terriers. We have been on "raids" (though I personally prefer the less police-like term of "rescue missions") and have been having our hearts torn out for years by, not only by the owners of the pets, but the laws and ill-conceived policies that exacerbate the problem and the people who keep rationalizing their necessity.

Brent is absolutely correct. Such laws don’t work. Killing doesn't save animals.





In fairness, Bender herself does own 'pit bull' type dogs and for many years ran a bully-type rescue. I think it is unlikely that she thinks they are a threat to society - or herself for that matter. That doesn't change the reality that the legislation she has supported has been responsible for killing countless of these types of dogs.


June, Bender doesn't need to be "reported to the main HSUS office". They are fully aware of what she does/says and obviously support it.

Bender is their front person on the classic HSUS hypocrisy: "we support BSL, but don't call us on it, because we don't support BSL, except when it's about mandatory s/n for pit bulls then we do support BSL but we like to pretend that BSL is only about banning"


To be cruel requires intention to do harm. There was no intention. Therefore how could this be deemed "cruel"? This very well could have happened if these dogs were out roaming. This was a he said/she said situation. The volunteers said AC was suppose to put them up and visa versa. Who was really responsible? Who knows? Was there any protocol? Who knows? With the problems the two entities have had in the past common sense tells you that verbal agreements are worthless.

Ms. Bender came to assess the situation and shelter as it was then. She found there was no intention of any wrong doing. But what there was was miscommunication and disorganization between the volunteers and city which resulted in the death of a dog.
Unless you live in this community and have seen both sides to this story, have witnessed the lack of communication/organization between the city and FCAHS, then you post on a bias. You really need to have some insight or at least hear it from both sides before posting crap like this.



I disagree on cruelty. If I "forget" to feed my dog for 2 weeks, and he starves to death, then I didn't "intend" to kill him, but it is "cruel" nonetheless - and would likely be prosecuted under some kind of neglegence charge.

Leaving animals alone together for 10 hours unsupervised on a hot day with no water seems like criminal neglegence on this to me.

Meanwhile - it turns out that things seem to be going really pretty smoothly since the shelter director was pushed aside and new management was put in place.

Biased? Or just in favor of positive change taking place at the shelter under new management?


I didn't INTEND to rape that woman but she said no - that wasn't my fault.

Chloe Knudsen

Several months ago someone abandoned a golden retriever who needed medical attention, food and water, so we adopted him. We named him Buddie. At the time we thought we might not be able to find room for another dog so I spoke to Janie Hicks from the Forrest City Humane Society on the phone. And, I told her we might be interested in finding him a home. We already had 10 dogs at the time, so we were not sure that our 18’ x 10’ dog house could accommodate another dog. But, when the call came some 4 months later from Janie HIcks that they had found Buddie a home we said "NO!" Because we had fallen in love with him and so had everyone else. Especially, a 4 year old boy, up the hill from us. Buddie goes up and lets him crawl all over him. However, Janie Hicks kept calling us. She simply would not take “NO,” for an answer.

But, today on 07/19/2011, while my daughter, granddaughters, and I went shopping Janie Hicks and Alyssa Aldridge from the Forrest City Humane Society trespassed on our property and stole Buddie from our garage/carport. Janie Hicks also went to my vet's office and took Buddie's medical records out of our account without my permission or my knowledge and had the staff give her a duplicate rabies tag and she altered the medical records to make it appear that the Forrest City Humane Society was Buddie’s owner. Janie Hicks had told my husband during one of our last conservations with her that they were going to pick Buddie up on Monday. So my husband took off work on Monday to prevent anyone from taking him. But, Janie Hicks and Alyssa Aldridge waited until Tuesday when no one was home to steal Buddie by trespassing on our property to do so. I called the St.Francis Sheriff's Office and they sent Sgt. Tommy Watlington out to take a report. He told me that someone could come on my property and take one of my dogs or anything else without my permission if I didn't have a "No Trespassing" sign on my property. But, that was a untrue according to our attorney. Buddie has a wonderful home with us. My husband converted a 18' x 10' shed into a dog house for our dogs. He insulated the walls, put heating and air, each dog has a dream dog bed to sleep on, and there is even a TV in there so they won’t miss us so much when we both have to work.. So, what better home could Buddie or our other dogs possibly have any place? Our vet, Dr. Gehring in Forrest City, AR can testify to how well our dogs are cared for, so what gives the Humane Society the right to trespass on our property and steal our dog. There are enough abused and abandoned dog in this area without taking a dog that is loved and cared for as well as my husband and I care for our dogs. Janie Hicks, Alyssa Aldridge and anyone else involved in the theft of Buddie has broken the law and I intend on prosecuting them to the highest degree. We need better laws in this country to protect our four-legged friends and to protect owners from experiencing the anger and sadness from the loss of their beloved pet.

If I wasn’t taking good care of my dogs, then why would Janie Hicks and the Forrest City Humane Society allow me to foster and later adopt one of their dogs? We fostered a yellow lab named Oliver for the Forrest City Humane Society because they had taken him to Massachusetts and was unable to find someone to adopt him. Oliver was part of the Second Chance Program that takes dogs up north to find them homes. And, when Janie called and told my husband and I that they were go to take him on that long trip again, we told Janie Hicks that we would adopt him because we didn’t want him to have to go through that long trip again.

Please help me get our dog Buddie back by telling our story on the news. I am a nurse at LeBonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis, but work weekends most of the time so you can contact me by e-mail or by phone. You can call my husband at 870-261-8606 or my cellphone at 870-270-8636 or our home phone at 870-317-7430.

The reason I have 11 dogs and won't send them to the Forrest City Humane Society is because of the reports, like yours on the poor conditions there. My husband and I have cared for these dogs without help from anyone, except Buddie’s neutering. The Forrest City Humane Society paid for that because we thought we might not keep him. However, when we decided to keep him, I offered to reimburse the Forrest City Humane Society for the cost of the neutering or any other expense they had occurred because we thought it only fair. Buddie has always resided at our home and we have never signed nor surrendered our right to Buddie.

What has this world come to when an organization like the Humane Society or anyone else can trespass on your property and steal one of your beloved animals like Buddie. Our granddaughters are traumatized by this whole ordeal and are fearful that someone might come and steal their dogs or even them.

I heard from an anonymous source at Dr. Gherings that this is not the first time that the Forrest City Humane Society has overstepped their bounds. My source stated that individuals come in the office all the time telling the staff of incidences where the Humane Society has gone over the line.

When this first happened I contacted the local radio station KXJK-KBFC, Andy Wise, the mayor’s office, Mayor Larry S. Bryant, and the Daily Times Herald, and printed 300 flyers to circulate around the area. I also called the Federal Trade Commission to report Janie Hicks for taking my personal vet account records and then altering them. The radio station and local newspaper called me back but were reluctant to help. And, although I have called the Mayor Bryant’s office 2 or 3 times, he has never contacted me regarding the Forrest City Humane Society. Yesterday, I even spoke to Bobby May from the Sheriff’s Office to ask him if he would have Sgt. Tommy Watlington correct his report, but he refused. Instead he had me write on the bottom of the report that the report was inaccurate and he signed it. Sgt. Watlington in his report had not even spelled Janie Hicks name correct and the information in the report made it appear that we had surrendered Buddie to them, which we have never done. It appears that for some reason agencies and individuals in this town condone the actions of the members of this Forrest City Humane Society and allowed them to believe they are above the law. I am sure this Humane Society has done good things in the past, but when they are allowed to break the law, then it somewhat clouds the good they may be doing.


Thank You,
Chloe Knudsen, BSN, RN,CPN

Chloe Knudsen

I rescue these dogs for "The Love of The Dog." And, it is the right thing to do. All I want is my Buddie home with me!

The MRA Group

Wow! Finally I got a website from where I can truly get useful
facts concerning my study and knowledge.

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