Roundup of Arkansas editorials

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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:


Southwest Times Record, Dec. 13, 2014

Visit Humane Society Before Buying Pets

Recently, we came across an Internet list that seemed useful, which in itself was so remarkable as to merit an editorial. Given the season, it seemed especially germane.

The list provides red flags that signal a puppy you are thinking about buying may come from a puppy mill, one of those assembly line-like operations that keep female dogs continually pregnant while denying them space, interaction with humans or other dogs, outdoor time and preventive health measures. We're pretty sure that most people who want to buy a puppy don't want to support a puppy mill.

Some things to watch out for, according to PetsAdviser.com:

. A breeder who won't share the name of the dogs' veterinarian.

. A breeder who won't let you meet the breeding parents.

. Someone who claims to act as an "agent" for a breeder.

. A seller who won't let you see the breeding facility.

. Someone who is eager to sell without asking any questions about the buyer to determine if the buyer is appropriate for the puppy.

. Breeders who offer "rare" or "new" breeds or characteristics like size or temperament that are not common within the dog's breed.

Pets Adviser notes that often a combination of these characteristics is necessary to identify a puppy mill.

That said, we still believe the best way to be sure you aren't supporting a puppy mill is to adopt a pet from a shelter, like the Sebastian County Humane Society, or if you are looking for a specific breed, a rescue operation that offers such dogs, like Sooner Golden Retriever Rescue in Oklahoma City. In Fort Smith, Kitties and Kanines, which has provided more than 15,000 low-cost spay or neuter surgeries, sometimes also has pets for adoption.

Although organizations like these may have dogs rescued from puppy mills, you can rest assured that those dogs are thoroughly checked for their health and temperament, and they are spayed or neutered before they become available for adoption. And you know their dams and sires are no longer living lives of neglect at a puppy mill.

Whether or not you are considering adding a pet to your family at this time, if you love dogs and cats, plan a stop by the Sebastian County Humane Society Holiday Open House from 2-4 p.m. Sunday. You'll be able to tour the newly renovated adoption kennels and meet their adorable residents.

You can even bring your own pets: Microchips with registrations to help identify pets should they get lost will be available for $20, and rabies and DA2PP vaccinations will be available for $10 each.

Many families will benefit from adding a pet, but a Christmas surprise might not be the way to do it. Instead, bring all the stakeholders to the Humane Society to let them see the pets, get to know them a little and learn what is involved in responsible pet ownership. What you lose in the surprise factor will be more than balanced by knowing you have the right dog for your family. You may even decide introducing a pet in your home before or after the peak of holiday madness is best for all involved.

No less authoritative source than CesarsWay.com, the official website of Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, offers this advice: "Buy a stuffed dog, a dog toy or a book on dog care and then when they open their present, you can say, 'I wanted to get you a dog, but I wanted you to pick it out. I found some local shelters and rescue organizations, and we can go together tomorrow and find the right match for you.'"

That offers a barking good way to start this important relationship.


Log Cabin Democrat, Dec., 12, 2014

Hendrix makes a "Wow" statement on financial assistance

The announcement this past week that Hendrix College will supply incoming in-state freshmen with 100 percent financial aid was met with more than a few exclamations of "Wow" and "Incredible" and "Outstanding."

It is outstanding. The Hendrix Arkansas Advantage is for Arkansas high school seniors who have a 3.6 or higher GPA and who have a 27 ACT or above or 1200 SAT or above. The program will meet students' demonstrated financial need through all forms of financial assistance, including merit scholarships, need-based grants, federal and state grants, federal student loans and student employment. If you are a student in an Arkansas school and you meet the required criteria and you are accepted as an incoming freshman into Hendrix, you can have up to 100 percent of your financial costs met by the school.

This has been a staple in some of our finest institutions of higher learning for a while. Many Ivy League schools, as well as other prestigious state and private colleges and universities, have provided major financial assistance, usually because the endowment of the college is so large. Great colleges produce great graduates who become leaders in our nation and world and who in turn give large sums of money back to those schools. It is a cycle that allows great institutions to battle for the best students, and Hendrix has thrown down the gauntlet with Hendrix Arkansas Advantage.

With costs for colleges growing every year — and with the student loan crisis pushing toward an outrageous climax — an announcement such as this is a major boon to those students who are considering their options in the coming years. Hendrix joins another school in Arkansas, College of the Ozarks, in providing in a sense free tuition for incoming students. College of the Ozarks has done so through a work-trade system, requiring students to work on campus. Hendrix's model seems to incorporate a number of options that will allow some of the best and the brightest to experience a high-level education while also not having themselves or their parents in constant levels of stress over how to pay for that education.

It's enough to make you say, "Wow."


Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Dec. 15, 2014

A report's fine, but .

There may be some room for praise after that latest report from the Division of Youth Services last week — some room.

An investigator in DYS' Internal Affairs department issued a three-page report last Wednesday that commended the sheriff of Yell County for getting rid of The Wrap — as if getting rid of the infernal thing required heavy thinking. For some of us, allowing kids to be wrapped up in this cross between a straitjacket and a sleeping bag for hours at a time, sometimes with a blinding mask on as well, would be grounds for another kind of report_a police report. Or at least a State Police investigation.

The folks at DYS praised Sheriff Bill Gilkey for getting rid of The Wrap once and for all, as well as retraining his people who run the lockup about handling disruptive kids there.

And that, it appears, is that. Because the same day the report came out, the Department of Human Services said it's not going to conduct any more investigations. The papers reported on The Wrap, the public was outraged, The Wrap was thrown in the heap, and the folks at the Yell County juvenile lockup have been scolded, uh, retrained. Happy ending all around?

Yes, the official report is out, and when official reports come out, that does sometime end the matter. Because a report's fine, but . .

The juvenile lockup in Yell County wasn't the only place where The Wrap has been used in this state. In the last few months, Arkansas' Newspaper has quoted other employees in other juvenile halls around the state giving excuses for using The Wrap_as if the inexcusable could so easily be excused.

So what about those other juvenile lockups? Has this Wrap thing been exorcised from the state completely, or just in the hills of Yell County?

Investigators say things are going swimmingly-ish at Yell County's juvenile lockup nowadays, incident reports are being sent to the state as required, with something called a Corrective Action Plan in place, and the kids themselves say they are being treated better. Which is great.

But of all the stories of late about juvenile lockups in this state, the one that caught our attention, like a headlight in the night, was one earlier this month — when Asa Hutchinson visited the lockup at Alexander.

The governor-elect thought it appropriate to visit the state's largest juvenile hall even before his inauguration. That place has drawn even worse publicity this year than the one in Yell County, and deservedly so. Assaults at the Alexander lockup nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013, and there were allegations that the staff had something to do with that. A juvenile-rights group even accused staffers of bribing kids there to assault other kids.

The governor-elect told the press after he visited Alexander that his surprise inspection was meant to send a message, which, if we may freely translate, was: Clean Up Your Act.

Or as the governor-elect put it: "Whenever folks know that the governor can show up unexpectedly, that's a good thing."

Yes, sir, it is. Because the state's juvenile lockups should be in the business of getting these kids back on the right path, not making them worse.

Asa Hutchinson's surprise visit to Alexander, and his message to the rest of the juvenile lockups in Arkansas, may do more good than any report out of the Division of Youth Services.

Because a report's fine, but . . a visit from an incoming governor may be a lot better at getting bureaucrats' attention. The way a two-by-four gets a mule's attention.


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