Sheryl Tolliver had hopes of finding foster homes for the five dogs she discovered abandoned at the Austin city dump, dubbing them "The Austin Five".
"I would have taken them all, but we have so many dogs already. I just couldn't take them all in, so we were trying to find them a place to go, good homes because they were really friendly," she said.
"We made posters and we hung them on the fence in the process for the Austin Five," she said. "We had gotten a call from a guy in Houston, people had started asking about them. They became popular here while we worked to find them homes."
She posted pictures to Facebook and made phone calls, including to a local rescuer who was a member of the Lonoke County Humane Society. The rescuer told her she could place the dogs with her sister in a foster program in Jonesboro.
"She told me that her sister ran a program in partnership with Adopt-a-Stray that would transport the dogs to the East Coast, since they don't have the problems with animal overpopulation like we do," Tolliver said. "All I could think was, great that sounds wonderful."
Over Memorial Day weekend two other people had come forward locally offering to foster some of the Austin Five, but according to Tolliver the rescuer said she had the reigns in hand.
"She said they had foster homes already set up," Tolliver said. "She said she didn't need any homes, that they worked independently, because otherwise it would be too many irons in the fire."
The rescuer picked the dogs up the day after Memorial Day, but they were never delivered.
"I had told her I would help her load the dogs up that afternoon," Tolliver said. "But she called me earlier that day and said she had them loaded up and they were on the way to Jonesboro, that the blue-eyed one I called 'Bud' was asleep right next to her."
Tolliver said she and her sister were wanting to help sponsor the dogs, to help pay for gas costs and vaccinations, so they started collecting donations. But when she called the woman the rescuer mentioned in Jonesboro, something didn't seem right.
"She told me that she had no idea what I was talking about and that I would have to call her sister," Tolliver said. "All I could think was 'Where are the dogs?'"
Tolliver said she called the rescuer, who admitted to lying about the Jonesboro foster program. Tolliver said she was then told that the rescuer had connected with a man from out of state who ran a wildlife rehab program and turned the dogs over to him. The rescuer wouldn't provide a name or contact information for the man.
"I didn't know what was going on. And I just told her I wanted the dog's back now," Tolliver said. "She told me she couldn't tell me anything else. I was so shocked and just floored."
It took another week before any answers came. Tolliver's sister posted pictures and updates to Facebook, asking if anyone had seen the animals. Tolliver said she called Cabot, Ward, and Beebe animal shelters to see if the dogs had been brought in. Tolliver said she was told by all three they hadn't.
Then, she said she received a call from the director of the Ward Animal Shelter, offering an answer to what happened to the Austin Five.
"She told me she wanted this to stop, that the rescuer was about to have a nervous breakdown. She said that as director of the Ward Animal Shelter she put the dogs down herself," Tolliver said.
Instead of finding a foster home, the Austin five were put down the very day they were picked up. According to the rescuer she just had a bad day and didn't know where else to take the dogs.
The rescuer declined to speak to us on camera, but told KARK she was simply overwhelmed and didn't have space for the animals. She said she lied to make Tolliver feel better about the situation.
But Tolliver said the rescuer didn't have to be without options. The day before the rescuer picked up the dogs, Tolliver said she called to tell her about the people who had come forward.
"There was help available and she refused it," Tolliver said. "Even as she was telling me the dogs were on the way to Jonesboro, they were being taken to the Animal Shelter to die."
According to Tolliver, she was able to review surveillance videos from the Ward Animal Shelter, showing the rescuer bring the dogs in one by one. She watched them receive the shots.
"It got to the point where she brought in Bud, all of the dogs were limp they must have been sedated, and I just couldn't watch anymore," Tolliver said. "These little fellows were so sweet, they would have been easily adoptable. It just broke my heart."
Speaking with several shelters, and other county Humane Societies, many of them are overrun with animals that are brought in. As soon as one is adopted, another is there to take its spot. And with counties that are without county animal shelters or services, it often falls to individuals to take care of the animals.
Sometimes, those individuals who work independently as advocates find themselves being the only resource people know of, and the dogs end up dumped at their homes.
According to the rescuer, that's what happened to her.
Neither Lonoke County nor the City of Austin have a shelter where the dogs could have been taken. Now, Tolliver's hoping this good deed gone undone could be the start of a shelter discussion.
"I'm just hoping maybe now we stimulate the people to move a little bit. Something, we need something here," she said. "Cabot has an animal shelter; Ward has an animal shelter, and Beebe has an animal shelter. We're just left out here with nothing."
She also hopes the Austin Five will serve as an example of reasons for folks to have their dogs spayed or neutered in the future.
"These dogs all looked to be from the same litter," Tolliver said. "Had someone spayed or neutered their dogs this wouldn't have happened. It would cut down on a lot of the issues we have with animals being abandoned and overpopulated."