Carson animal shelter out of date; facing review

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

When the Humane Society of the United States evaluates Carson City Animal Services this year, it is likely to find deficiencies due to an aging facility, said Animal Services Director Pat Wiggins.

"We had a study done in 2002 with the American Humane Society that showed we were out of compliance in a number of areas because our shelter is out of date," Wiggins said.

He said the animal shelter was built in the 1960s, and a number of standards for animal housing have changed since then.

"There are issues with the housing of dogs because they can go nose-to-nose through the chain link fences. This makes it hard to control disease," Wiggins said. "The second issue is that we don't have an isolation area. We have a quarantine area, but air can pass from there to another area."

In addition, the 2002 study found issues with crumbling cinderblock in areas that are cleaned daily with bleach and detergents and the drainage troughs in the dog runs are out of date.

"After 40 years, it shows its age, but we've had ideas for years, which are supported by the mayor and the city manager, to build a new shelter," Wiggins said. "I've had plans drawn up for city land that would cost about $1.9 million and serve us well for 10 years out, or on our property here for under $1 million."

At a recent board of supervisor's meeting, Mayor Bob Crowell suggested that there might be a possibility that funds could be made available from the Hop and Mae Adams Foundation to put toward animal services.

The people from the Humane Society will spend two days at the shelter evaluating such things as shelter health, disease control, community programs, animal care and housing, and shelter operation.

"They are working for us, so they'll be telling us what we do right and what we do wrong," Wiggins said.

In the good news department, however, he said, of the 753 dogs brought into the shelter in 2009, only 45 had to be euthanized, either at the owner's request or because they were untreatable due to sickness or injury. Of the remaining, 400 were adopted, 32 were outgoing transfers, 272 were returned to their owners and four died in shelter care.

In contrast, cats didn't fare as well, he said. Of the 684 brought into the shelter, 247 were euthanized, 32 died in shelter care, 93 were transferred and 268 were adopted. Only 44 were returned to their owners.

"We're doing a great job on the dogs - the numbers speak for themselves. With the cats, we're failing because we don't have a solution. People trap them and bring them in, and if they're feral, it's a death sentence for them. With cats, sickness spreads easily, and cats are just harder to place than dogs," Wiggins said.

"In the spring, we start getting 30-40 cats a month with the breeding season, but by summer, it's up to about 100 a month. We have to be proactive in getting them adopted. But it's not just here; this is a problem across the country," he said.

Animal Services is holding an adoption clinic today at Walmart, and the department will be working with Petsmart on future adoption events, he said.


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