Carson City supervisors farm out animal services | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson City supervisors farm out animal services

John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

The Nevada Humane Society will oversee city animal services and the shelter due to an ordinance adopted and a contract approved Thursday by Carson City’s Board of Supervisors.

The vote was unanimous despite strenuous opposition from Lisa Helget, a retired state employee and candidate for supervisor from Ward 1. She objected to the plan first proposed by City Manager Nick Marano and now embraced by the board, She cited state law and said though the Nevada Humane Society does good work, it doesn’t have proper experience and isn’t able to take on the enforcement role involved.

“I love the humane society,” she said, but her quarrel was with talk of this being a partnership when in reality it’s a contractual matter. She said one requirement is a contracted party for the animal services role must have people with five years experience in enforcement tasks, which the society doesn’t do. She also said other animal protection entities should have been offered an opportunity to seek the contract.

The Nevada Humane Society has no authority to arrest, she said, nor does it have training in policing. She said the organization is excellent at shelter and adoption work, but isn’t experienced in animal control. After the vote, she said she would send her research on to the office of Nevada’s attorney general.

Kevin Ryan, CEO of the Reno-based society, gave a presentation in which he said the goal is to reunite animals with their owners. He said the society would have 11 on staff initially, will stress micro-chipping for ease of animal owner identification and will initially spend more than the contract calls for the city to pay, which is $700,000.

Supervisor Brad Bonkowski pointed out after a proposed animal shelter gets built the lease being approved along with the agreement would be worth about $250,000 annually, given the facility will be 10,000 square feet, and that meant the $1.1 million the society says will go into the Carson City work will work about right for the society and city. At the same time, he said, the city benefits.

“I believe that we’re getting a good value,” he said.

He wasn’t alone as remarks and the imminent vote showed.

“I think we’ll do far better than we did in the past,” Supervisor Jim Shirk said in agreement, adding it’s worth the risk to “take the leap of faith” because past results under city operation haven’t always been good.

“We’re going to vastly improve the quality of life,” said Mayor Robert Crowell, noting that meant for both people and animals.

Most others who testified favored the change, though Canyon White of Carson City joined Helget in raising questions. She said the problem with the city-run operation has been those hired as managers over the shelter and animal control were selected poorly.

Veterinarian Gary Ailes of Sierra Veterinary Hospital and Lisa Schuette of the Carson Animal Services Initiative, among others, favored the change. Ailes joked he didn’t have a dog in the fight before endorsing the pact.

“I think it’s a great step in a good direction,” he said.

Schuette, whose organization is raising donations for the planned new shelter to be built with public and private funds, reminded everyone the goal is to save animals’ lives. She said the society’s 93 percent return/adoption rate and no kill policy, along with “a plethora of services,” help achieve that goal.

In other action, the board approved the issuance of refunding water and sewer bonds to save $466,000 in coming years, an amount lower than had been estimated previously because interest rates went up slightly. The board followed advice to not issue refunding bonds for the V&T Railway and likely would try again later.

A public hearing on the $13.6 million bond issue for capital improvement projects, meanwhile, attracted no testimony.

Those bonds are likely to be issued later this year and the V&T Railway refunding bonds may go to market at the same time.