A recent evaluation of Carson City Animal Services by the Humane Society of the United States will result in a number of improvements to the shelter, said Animal Services Manager Gail Radtke.
"We're looking closely at that report to determine what we can do and what we cannot do (short of) building a new building," Radtke said.
The evaluation was requested last spring by the city's Health and Human Services Department, which oversees Animal Services.
"We asked for this to get an idea of how we're doing compared to other communities and to find out if we can be doing better," Radtke said.
The 100-page report delivered in November from the HSUS was based on a site visit July 20-22 evaluating the shelter's current operations, services and programs. The report included observations as well as recommendations for improvement.
In the report, the team praised Carson City for being open on Saturdays to make it more convenient for the public to adopt pets and reclaim lost animals.
"Convenience is a major factor in choosing a source for a new pet, which is why shopping mall pet shops, neighbors and relatives are often more popular sources than animal shelters," the report said. "It has become common practice for shelters to be open extended hours to allow them to compete for a segment of the adoption market by being accessible during those hours most convenient for the general public."
The team suggested that the shelter consider opening until at least
7 p.m. a minimum of one evening a week so it is accessible to people working typical business hours.
"This change will greatly improve the shelter's image and therefore enhance the shelter's ability to place pets or return lost pets to owners," the report said.
One recommendation the shelter already has been working on is
"Does the public even know where we are?" asked Radtke. "We're going to get a sign on Fairview, and they suggested we have a sign on the gate or the front door, and we've already done that."
Other observations and recommendations aren't so easily addressed. The facility was built in the 1960s and is outdated, but city budget constraints likely won't allow the construction of a new shelter anytime soon.
However, a remodel of the main building will be starting right away, and in the spring, the kennels will be remodeled, Radtke said.
"Those are some things we can do to make it a little better right now," she said.
A number of recommendations were made to improve dog and cat housing, and the team said the shelter also needs to be able to provide housing for a wider variety of animals including reptiles, fowl, fish, rabbits, gerbils and other rodents.
Other areas evaluated in the report included shelter health/-
disease control, adoptions, community programs, and field services/animal control.
The team recommended that Animal Services form a task force to review the report and prioritize recommendations. At their Dec. 16 meeting, the Carson City Board of Supervisors accepted the report and sent it back to staff to come up with an action plan.
The report provides recommendations based on what has been identified as best practices in the sheltering field.
"The HSUS team does not imply that Carson City Animal Services must implement every recommendation to be successful," said Penny Cistaro, a HSUS consultant on the evaluation team.