501 Life Magazine | Jarman an ambassador for animals in need
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Jarman an ambassador for animals in need

The Faulkner County Humane Society is honoring longtime volunteer Shirley Jarman for her 27 years of service. Shirley is pictured with one of the dogs she has helped, Girlie Girl, who was found paralyzed in a ditch but today is healthy and has been adopted. In honor of Shirley and to help animals in need, donations can be made to the humane society’s Injured Animal Fund at fixingfaulknercounty.com/injured-animals. 

by Donna Lampkin Stephens

For 27 years, Shirley Jarman has been the face of the Humane Society of Faulkner County, but now it’s time for the organization to move beyond her.

Jarman, whose long service to the organization will be celebrated at an 80th birthday party Saturday, said it was time for her to step back.

“We haven’t decided my role yet, but it is time for new people to come in,” she said. “The organization is doing great. I just want it to keep on going.”

Regardless of her official role, Jarman will continue to be an ambassador for animals in need — just as she’s always been.

“She is something else,” said Jarman’s friend, Judi Standridge, a long-time board member of the organization. “She’s as sharp as a tack, a go-getter, so dedicated and tenacious. She is a pistol.”

That’s a good thing because Jarman and the HSFC are serving a huge need.

“I remember one year when I first started, we got 15,000 calls in one year,” Standridge said. “I’ll never forget that.”

***

Jarman is from North Carolina. She attended nursing school in Durham, and her Navy husband had an assignment in Colorado before the Navy sent him to the 501 area for a recruiting job.

“We left (Colorado) with two horses, a sheep, cats, dogs and two kids,” she said. “We’ve been here 40 years.”

But her love for animals started well before that.

“I’ve had animals my entire life,” she said. “I describe animal people as those people who carry dog food in the trunk of their cars and help turtles cross the road in the spring.

“You either are one or you’re not.”

Upon her arrival in Little Rock, she took a job at Baptist Medical Center in Little Rock in 1976. Looking for accommodations for her horses, she found a six-acre place in Vilonia, and the family has been there ever since.

“I went back to school at UCA and got a degree and then I worked at what was then Rebsamen Hospital in Jacksonville,” she said. “Then I had two knees replaced, and I quit working and switched from taking care of people to dogs.”

Standridge, who said she had known Jarman for about 17 years, said that Jarman was one of four women who took over the Humane Society of Faulkner County in about 1992.

“It had already been started by another group, but they kind of dissolved, and Shirley and the others took over the non-profit status,” Standridge said.

Carol Capers, Sherry Walter and Amy Kordsmeier joined Jarman originally. For various reasons, she’s now the only one still involved.

***

Under Jarman’s leadership, the HSFC has developed several initiatives: Companions Spay and Neuter Clinic in Springhill (589 Hwy 65 N.), the next-door Companions Vaccination Clinic, Pet Food Pantry (behind Companions), the Sick & Injured Animal Fund and Companions Thrift Store at 2219 Washington Ave. in Conway, which helps fund the other initiatives.

“The big deal is the Spay and Neuter Clinic,” Standridge said. “It was founded in 2007. (HSFC is) the non-profit over the clinic. According to the Arkansas State Veterinarian Board, we aren’t allowed to operate a clinic, but we own the building and all the contents. Shirley was instrumental in getting grants for it.”

According to the group’s website, fixingfaulknercounty.com, the clinic has performed nearly 30,000 low-cost sterilizations since 2007.

Standridge said the Pet Food Pantry had been going since 1992.

“We help people feed their animals when they fall on hard times,” Standridge said. “That’s right behind Companions. The thrift store was founded in 1996.

“But Shirley’s real baby, other than the clinic, is the sick and injured animal fund. She’s an RN, but she knows so much about veterinary medicine. We interact with all the local veterinarians. They’ll call us and say, ‘Can you help us?’

“We help people in the community take care of their pets when they are sick and injured. In addition, people may find a stray animal that’s injured, and we help.”

Money for the fund comes from donations

“Nobody’s ever turned away,” Standridge said. “We usually get about three calls a week. This week we’ve had two already.

“You have the county problems — no animal control, so a lot of stuff goes on, a lot of shootings, a lot of hit by cars and other injuries.”

The poster child for the Sick & Injured Animal Fund is the pit bull Gracie, the former Girlie Girl.

“Several years ago, we got a call about a pit bull that was paralyzed and in a ditch,” Standridge said. “We got the dog. It seemed to be paralyzed, but they couldn’t say for sure whether it was permanent, so we started treatment.

“We did laser treatments for her back initially, and after a few months, the dog started to walk. Then the one foot continued to knuckle and wouldn’t work, so we had to amputate a toe. That still didn’t work, so we had to get a prosthetic boot for her. That didn’t work, so we went back to doing back surgery. That was probably $4,000, and it didn’t work. So we had the leg amputated.

“Then she finally got adopted by this wonderful British lady who is one of us now. She named her Gracie.

“Most people would say, ‘It’s a pit bull; it’s paralyzed; euthanize it.’ That story went all over the United States.”

***

Originally, Jarman had hoped to build an HSFC shelter, but a feasibility study advised that such an undertaking should be a function of government, so the group put its efforts toward the spay and neuter clinic, which offers low-cost services.

“That was a letdown for me, but eventually we got a $75,000 grand from (the Bob Barker Company Foundation) that helped us get the clinic,” Jarman said. “There was a house across the street from one of our board members’ office (the late CPA Donna Stephens), and the owner, Lucile Anesi, donated that house to us for the thrift store. Before she died, she would see me on the street and give me $5 and say, ‘Give this to the animals.’”

Now, Jarman said, the thrift shop at the former Anesi house generates about $25,000 per year. The group also has two trailers that collect aluminum cans for recycling; those efforts raise another $3,000 or $4,000 annually. Monthly bingo games at the Melton Cotton Event Center in Greenbrier also help with finances.

As always, volunteers are the lifeblood of the organization.

“One little step has led to another,” Jarman said. “One person doesn’t do it — it takes a ton of volunteers and people with the same passion. If you have the passion to do it, you do it. I’ve done it for 27 years, and I’ve loved every minute of it. It’s hard, but when that’s what you want to do, you do it.”

Over those 27 years, a number of other groups have joined the rescue effort. Each organization has its niche, but they are united now in the effort to build and maintain a Faulkner County shelter.

“We all have that one huge desire,” Jarman said. “Let’s get this shelter built. If the strays are out there and we didn’t have to answer stray calls, the rescue groups could pull from the shelter. With our clinic, we have resources.

“I’m very proud of our clinic, but one person never does it. I’m fortunate to have been aligned with so many people who’ve helped along the way.

“It takes all of us.”

To donate, adopt, volunteer or ask for help, visit fixingfaulknercounty.com.