Kay Simpson: The Advocate for the Animals

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 29, 2010 12:00 am  

"There was mistrust I think on both sides," Simpson said. "We never really sat down and had a mediator to explain how we both felt."

But that relationship changed when Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was elected in 2006. He became the liaison between the animal welfare groups and the farmers and ranchers.

"It became plain to both entities that what we needed was what we all wanted," Simpson said.

The legislation creating the felony animal cruelty law passed in 2009, making Arkansas the 46th state to make cruelty to animals a felony offense. An aggravated animal cruelty conviction now can mean up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the offender.

Simpson also is helping the Criminal Justice Institute in Little Rock train law enforcement officials to investigate animal cruelty cases.

"Up until the new law went into effect, most agencies did not work animal cases at all," Simpson said. "It's not that most of them aren't willing. It's just the knowledge isn't there."

When not investigating animal abuse cases, Simpson assists other animal shelters in Arkansas. Most of Arkansas' rural areas don't have animal shelters or humane societies.

"We get probably 200 calls a week wanting either guidance or wanting us to come and help with animal abuse cases," Simpson said.

Simpson also is a member of the Humane Society of the United States' National Disaster Animal Response Team. She spent three weeks in Louisiana searching for pets after Hurricane Katrina.

The Humane Society of Pulaski County relies on donations and doesn't receive government financial support.  

In 2008, the Humane Society received $343,000, down from $752,000 in 2007, according to the organization's most recent federal tax filing.

Simpson said she thought the recession caused people to curtail giving.

Still, "we have a lot of bills we have to pay," Simpson said.





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