The lawyer for a woman upset that her dog was euthanized at Carson City Animal Services is gathering information for a possible lawsuit, he said Friday.
Cal Dunlap said he drove past Animal Services a couple of times Friday to check on the status of a small demonstration at the entrance there, then headed to City Hall to speak with officials there.
“I’m looking into other problems of a similar nature” at Animal Services, he said, adding that the next step is to talk more with the city. City Manager Larry Werner and Assistant City Manager Marena Works said the city couldn’t comment on the issue because of the potential litigation.
Dunlap, a former district attorney in Reno, said he’s looking to achieve three things.
“No. 1, trying to get this problem solved so nobody else has this happen to their pet,” he said. “No. 2, take care of any damages my client has suffered. And No. 3, maybe even put together something where perhaps through donations and some means, there can be a fund for people who are in this situation.”
Dunlap said he’d look into establishing a nonprofit, either in Carson City or elsewhere in Nevada, that would ensure there’s money available when someone lacks the funds to retrieve his or her pet.
“People who don’t have a lot of cash lying around to do that on the spur of the moment are at a disadvantage,” he said.
Jeraldine Archuleta, the dog’s owner, couldn’t be reached for comment.
State Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, who represents the 16th district, including Carson City, said he has asked legislative researchers to look into whether state law addresses pet euthanasia, and if there are separate rules for government entities and private shelters.
“Frankly, I was really put off by what happened down there,” he said Friday. “Look, I think they acted irresponsibly. I think that the city is clearly taking it seriously, so I think that Carson City is doing the right thing by doing a policy review and training and figuring out where it should move forward. It has acknowledged it acted inappropriately.”
Kieckhefer, who is on the Nevada Humane Society’s board of directors, said he has asked researchers to get him results “sooner rather than later.”
“The very basic fact is that someone shouldn’t have the family pet killed because they can’t come up with $100 in three days,” he said. “That’s absurd.”
Lisa Schuette, the chairwoman of the Carson Animal Services Initiative, said the incident underscores the need for a larger shelter. Her community nonprofit raises money toward building a new one.
“Carson City has outgrown our tiny little shelter. There’s only so much room,” she said. “And if there’s no more room, terrible things happen.”
The fate of Archuleta’s dog, Rollie, came to light when she wrote a letter to the editor about it in Sunday’s Nevada Appeal. She wrote that after her dog had been taken to Animal Services, she’d been told she couldn’t retrieve it unless she paid more than $100 in fees, and that she had 72 hours to do so. She also wrote that she requested a few days to get the money together, and that Rollie was put down despite the request.
The day after the letter appeared, Werner announced in a news release that the city was closing Animal Services from Tuesday through Thursday for “intensive workforce development training in customer service, ethical decision making and best practices.”
Works said Monday that no more animals will be put down at the shelter if the owner shows up.