CHS students helping at Carson City Animal Shelter

From left, Yesica Andrade, Layla Ruybal-Ault, Shelter Manager Clay Johnson, Kelly Strasser and Parker Story.

From left, Yesica Andrade, Layla Ruybal-Ault, Shelter Manager Clay Johnson, Kelly Strasser and Parker Story.
Courtesy Ronni Hannaman

You’ve oft heard the phrase “it takes a village,” meaning acknowledgement of the roles other people play in the success of anything. Or, perhaps call it simply a matter of accidental networking that occurs every time we meet new people that may unintentionally lead into new opportunities and adventures.

From October to June, the Carson City Chamber introduces a new set of emerging leaders to the various aspects of this complex city providing insight into the city’s heart and soul. The Chamber’s Leadership Institute students meet local leaders and in many cases, new relationships are made for the benefit of all.

Dec. 9 was the daylong session to showcase Carson High School with a focus on the Career and Technical training that has become important to local businesses. On this day a partnership between CHS Career and Technical Education Coordinator Candi Robles and Carson City Animal Shelter Manager Clay Johnson was born.

Johnson writes, “After our class in December, I approached Candi Robles and Josh Billings about ways the Humane Society can help support the CTE program and the Veterinary Sciences program. After meeting with her we got an internship program started at the Carson shelter, and we now have four interns that come work with us a few days each week! This is an exciting opportunity for the Humane Society, and hopefully for the students too!”

Accidental networking at its finest.

Of the four students now in the program, Yesica Andrade and Layla Ruybal-Ault plan to pursue a career in veterinary science while the remaining two will continue their passion for animal welfare while pursuing other career opportunities.

The Carson City Animal Shelter, a no-kill shelter operated by the Nevada Humane Society, was dedicated in 2016 after a “village of volunteers” lobbied for a new shelter and helped raise monies through Carson Animal Services Initiative to supplement the $4 million in sales tax bonding and the generous donations from Petco Foundation and Maddie’s Fund.

Today, the shelter averages about 40 cats with only 4% reclaimed. Dogs average about 30 with most adopted within two weeks. There are parakeets, hamsters, and guinea pigs, all snug in their enclosures.

The cats snooze in their comfortable bedding while overseeing the front desk and the goings on in the lobby. The dogs make their presence known in their enclosures.

Two weeks ago, Johnson relocated to Carson City from south Reno to become a more integral part of the Carson City community.

“This is a great shelter, and the citizens of Carson are so fortunate to have this type of shelter since I know of no other shelters of this kind in other communities of this size,” Johnson said.

He began his shelter career at the Reno shelter while earning his degree in social work from University of Nevada, Reno.

Johnson is grateful to have the four senior class CHS CTE students spend between 3 to 4.5 hours a week assisting his staff of 19 and acknowledges working in a shelter can be hard and emotionally draining. “Some animals are brought here because the owner can no longer afford to feed them or care for their medical needs. You can tell this is a tough decision for them.”

However, before intaking the beloved pet, the staff makes every attempt to solve the problem and will provide food and medical care needed to keep pet and owner together.

Other animals are surrendered and made available for adoption due to life changes that don’t allow pets. The staff then begins the process of finding the right fit for both pet and new owner to culminate in a successful adoption. His dozen dedicated volunteers also play a major role in the health and welfare of the animals.

The students expressed appreciation of the “great staff” and the knowledge they are gaining and pitch in where needed, no matter the task.

And, this all started because Robles and Johnson saw the opportunity to work together for the benefit of all further cementing Carson City as the kind of village that cares for its own no matter how many legs it may have.


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