Jo Ellen Bonhart, president of Almost Home Rescue in Van Buren, has been awarded a 2020 Community Hero award from Dog Talk in Little Rock.


She is one of 10 pet shelter volunteers in the state to have been awarded $500 donations for her cause, and named Community Heroes.


"Stories are emerging daily about people whose tireless efforts are keeping these rescues afloat during these unprecedented times," the Dog Talk website states.


Connie Martin shared this story with the Van Buren City Council on Oct. 26 and noted that there will be another award given by the organization for the most-voted person or nonprofit of the 10. The results for this award have not been announced yet, but Martin says that Almost Home is in the top three.


A small story on Banhart was given to Dog Talk when she was entered into the contest. The story says, "When she retired from school, she took on the dog shelter as her new passion. She gives her time and money. I know on several occasions where she will get to the shelter at 4 a.m. to get a dog ready for transport. Making sure that the dog is fed, water, and taken for a walk before leaving. I am never with her that she is not on the phone taking care of some problem, trying to get a dog adopted, or answering someone’s question."


Martin also shared the statistics of the shelter from the last three months. In July, 29 dogs were taken into the shelter, 13 were claimed, and 16 were transported to other shelters. In August the shelter took in 19 dogs, six were claimed, and four adopted; 11 were taken out of state; and 14 dogs were taken in by Almost Home in September with four claims. There were 20 taken out of state.


Martin also included three stories on dogs that needed emergency medical help that the shelter was able to pay for using donations. Bolt, a 1-year-old dog, was taken to Hubbs Animal Clinic because of a condition where the eyelid rolls or turns inward causing the eyelash to rub against the eye. Bolt was given a surgical fix.


Doug, a 5-year-old dog, was brought to Springdale to an eye specialist due to cataracts in both of his eyes. The surgery estimate for Doug was $2,300. Martin noted that vision restoration wasn’t possible.


A 10-month-old dog named Trout was brought to the shelter by animal control in September. The shelter was told that Trout had a hurt leg, but it didn’t appear too serious. The shelter noticed that Trout was in pain and after a visit to the animal clinic it was found that the dog had a broken leg and hip. Almost Home informed Animal Control that the dog needed surgery but was told that they will not take a dog to the vet or incur any medical expenses for injuries that are not life-threatening. Trout is currently being fostered while he heals.