Dayton shelter saves animals – one life at a time |

Dayton shelter saves animals – one life at a time

Sally Taylor Roberts

An abandoned dog – deaf, blind, old and with back problems – was found Sunday on Highway 50 East near Smiths grocery store in Dayton. Instead of meeting a violent end, the lucky terrier mix was taken to Kukuis Alii Animal Rescue & Shelter, where he is now awaiting a caring new home where he can live out the rest of his life in comfort and safety.

“We think somebody just dumped the dog off,” said Deborah Larson, founder of Kukuis Alii, which began 11⁄2 years ago.

The terrier is one of about 240 lucky dogs and cats that have found a second chance and a better life through the rescue group.

Larson named the organization after her first rescued dog – a miniature schnauzer – and turned it into an anagram for “Keep Us. Killing Us Is Senseless. All Life Is Important.”

The non-profit organization now has 15 volunteers. They work out of Dayton Riverside Veterinary Hospital, which provides space for some of the animals in Kukuis Alii’s care. Others are in foster homes and 15-20 are at PetSmart awaiting adoption.

Most of the abandoned cats and dogs are found in Storey and Lyon counties but also come from other counties in the region.

“We’re trying to break down the barriers,” Larson said, explaining that a dog living in or found in one county cannot be turned over to a shelter in another county.

Animals adopted from Kukuis Alii are spayed or neutered, microchipped and up to date with vaccinations, and cats are tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS. Puppies and kittens too young to be altered can be brought in later or Kukuis Alii helps the new owner with the cost of spay/neutering at a vet of their choice.

Besides helping to find homes for abandoned dogs and cats, Kukuis Alii helps animals in other ways. The organization donated a microchip scanner to the Storey County animal shelter and has microchip and vaccination clinics. A spay/neuter program is being planned. With help from Walmart, more than 3,000 pounds of pet food has been donated to families in Lyon and Storey counties so that they could afford to keep their animals instead of turning them over to the shelters.

Kukuis Alii puts on adoption days and fundraisers whenever and wherever they can.

On Saturday, Kukuis Alii will have representatives at Dayton’s Oodles of Noodles. On Sunday, they’ll raise funds at the Bill Riordan Memorial Golf Tournament at Eagle Valley East.

“We do a lot of things in the community,” Larson said.

Volunteers stay busy cleaning cages in Dayton and PetSmart, taking animals to adoption events, and fundraising.

They also hope to help many more abandoned animals in the future.

Plans are being developed to build a facility in Storey County large enough to hold 150 dogs and 200 cats, plus a barn to care for abandoned and neglected horses.

“We want to have a resource center where (pet owners) can get information and have training done,” Larson said.

A pet cemetery, walking paths and a reflecting pond are also in the plans, a place “where people feel comfortable,” Larson said.