Helena, Arkansas: Reta Merritt Roberts, director of the Humane Society of the Delta in Helena, Arkansas, is facing 285 counts of aggravated animal cruelty for horrific conditions found at the no-kill animal shelter, which is located at 8480 Phillips Road 300.
Roberts was arrested last week after Mayor Kevin Smith executed a search warrant at the facility following reports of neglect and animal cruelty at the shelter; investigators and officers executing the search warrant found appalling conditions at the facility, including dead rats, feces, and trash, as well as neglected shelter animals.
ABC 24 News reports that officers saw, “several dogs in wire kennels outside in the ground, rodent holes by the kennels, and an overwhelming smell of feces and urine inside. They said they also saw overflowing garbage and debris around the property.” Roberts lives in a mobile home on the property, with a young child, and the conditions in her residence were described as appalling as well. Officers found dead rats, in addition to animal feces and urine; the child appeared to be covered in insect bites. The Department of Human Services was notified about the situation.
Mike Wheeler, president of the Arkansas State Animal Control Association commented on the disturbing conditions, telling KARK News, “There’s rats, they’re eating on rats, there’s raw sewage they’re sitting in. It’s just not, it’s not what animal welfare should be.”
A total of 240 dogs and 45 cats were found at the animal shelter – many of the animals were malnourished and/or injured.
The investigation into conditions at the no-kill facility was instigated after former volunteers at the shelter reported that animals were being mistreated, neglected, and sometimes even physically abused by workers, reports Fox 13 News.
After investigators visited the facility and witnessed the appalling conditions, the shelter was shut down. The Mayor issued a plea for help on social media.
Mayor Smith stated:
“A shelter that was once a champion for animal welfare, and fought hard against animal cruelty and inhumane treatment, has since developed into a place of animal hoarding, maltreatment and worse.” He added that it was just “a horrendous crime scene at this location.”
The Tunica Humane Society has organized a team to help care for the cats and dogs at the shelter, and the non-profit group, Animal Rescue Corp, is assisting as well.
The cats and dogs who were kept at this no-kill “shelter” were suffering a miserable existence. Had no one spoken up, their torment would have continued. Reta Merritt Roberts is facing 285 counts of aggravated cruelty to a dog, cat, or horse, a Class D Felony in Arkansas. Please add your name to the petition today to help us fight for the maximum punishment allowable by law.
Note: Individuals are presumed innocent until being found guilty in a court of law.
Update October 16, 2023: Animal Victory sent petition and additional signatures to the DA.
Update October 16, 2023: On 9/2/2023, the attorney for Reta Merritt Roberts presented a motion to suppress evidence. On 9/13/2023, the prosecution presented a witness list to the court. Status is now waiting for the court to set a date for a new hearing.
Update 5/11/2023: Animal Victory has learned that a new judge was assigned on 5/8/2023. There are no new court dates as of yet.
Update 4/03/2023: Animal Victory has learned that the judge recused himself on March 23; still waiting for information about what judge will pick up this case before the court is scheduled again.
Update 3/20/2023: Animal Victory has sent the petition to the judge.
Update 1/11/2023: Animal Victory has learned that a motion to suppress all evidence was filed and the trial date has been reset for April 3, 2023.
Update 8/24/2022: The last court date was August 24, 2022, for a motion for discovery. We are still waiting for the next court date.
Update 4/1/2022: As of today, there is still no one assigned to this case and the prosecutor’s office has it under review.
Update 3/4/2022: Animal Victory has sent Attorney Amy Green 15,368 signatures and comments.
Update 2/23/2022: Animal Victory has been in touch with the courts and we are told that nothing is scheduled yet.
Update 12/03/2021: Animal Victory has spoken to Lynn Stillwell, the court clerk, and there is nothing scheduled as of yet. The case is still being investigated and put together.
Prior Signatures 15,566