HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. — The director of the Humane Society of the Delta faces 285 counts of animal cruelty, after Helena-West Helena Police found inhumane conditions at the shelter this week.
Director Reta Merritt Roberts was arrested and charged with 285 counts of aggravated cruelty to a dog, cat, or horse, which is a Class D Felony. She was taken to Woodruff County Jail in Augusta, Arkansas, to await a bond hearing set for Friday, October 22, 2021.
Helena-West Helena Police said Tuesday, Oct. 19, they were called to the Humane Society of the Delta in the 8400 block of Phillips Road 300 as staff with the city’s water department were trying to collect on an outstanding balance of $29,115.78.
When they got there, investigators said officers found 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. They said at the time, Roberts told them they could wait in the office but could not look around.
The next day, police said two volunteers who had worked at the shelter several times reported seeing animals mistreated, neglected, and sometimes physically abused by workers. They said the volunteers told them that several of the dogs that had been relocated to other shelters suffered from heartworms and other parasites, and parvovirus.
Thursday, Helena-West Helena Police, joined by Phillips County deputies, executed a search warrant at the Humane Society of the Delta, and Roberts’ mobile home on the property. They said found 240 dogs and 45 cats, many malnourished and some suffering from infected open wounds. Investigators said several of the animals were in their own excrement and urine, and several rats, both alive and dead, were around the property.
They said inside the mobile home here Roberts lived with her family, there was feces and urine throughout, as well as several rats. They said a child appeared to also have several insect bites.
In a Facebook post, Helena-West Helena Mayor Kevin Smith said the shelter was shut down, and they were looking for people to help care for the animals.