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Number of animals killed reduced at CarsonCity’s animal control facility

by Susie Vasquez

All adoptable cats given up to Carson City’s animal control found homes last year and the organization is working to do the same for its dog population.

The cooperation of a number of rescue and welfare groups including Pet Network in Incline Village and Carson City’s PetSmart pet store have been critical to the shelter’s success, said Tracy Arnold, Animal Services supervisor.

“It’s always been their policy to keep animals as long as possible,” she said. “But there was a time when we had to euthanize a lot more animals than we wanted to.”

The cooperative effort started about 2 years ago, when animal services started placing these homeless animals through Pet Supermarket, a pet shop at Southgate Mall.

Then a local private non-profit organization called Pet Network stepped in to help, Arnold said.

“And when Pet Supermarket closed, we started working with PetSmart,” she said.

Pet Network takes the shelter animals to their own facility at Incline Village, spays or neuters them and administers vaccinations. The animals are also evaluated for any behavior problems.

These homeless pets can be adopted at their Incline Village shelter, but many are adopted through outlets like PetSmart, said Adam Hulme, adoption program manager for Pet Network.

He said Washoe County’s animal control services have extra help through other agencies, but there’s a real need in Carson City.

“We’re down there (at Carson Animal Services) about twice a week,” he said. “We reserve roughly 80 percent of our cat area and 50 percent of our dog area to homeless animals from Carson City.”

He lauded the Carson City staff and Lee Whittick, who was once an animal control officer here. Ardently devoted to the animals, Whittick died of cancer about five years ago, Hulme said.

“It’s very rare to find an animal control agency willing to work with rescue organizations, but Carson City’s Animal Services has been phenomenal,” he said.

Hulme said Carson City officials have always acted professionally and has never charged adoption fees.

“I’ve dealt with animal control agencies across the Western states,” he said. “Carson City has bent over backwards to help us rescue these animals,”

Diane Hines, assistant director at PetSmart said these adoptions are held in every of PetSmart and they’ve been ongoing locally since the company opened its Carson City store about a year ago.

“It’s a wonderful program. We save a lot of life,” Hines said. “Our associates do the adopting. Typically, we handle about five to nine cats at a time and adopt out one to eight cats per week.”

PetSmart doesn’t handle dogs because of the space requirements.

The dogs take more space, one of the problems that has made achieving a zero kill rate for these animals more of a challenge, Arnold said.

Last year, 1,761 animals were either rescued, adopted, or returned to their owners, but 96 unwanted or unadoptable dogs had to be destroyed.

“But the numbers have been getting steadily better, due to help from rescuers,” Arnold said.

Private groups handle specific breeds, including Pit Bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Kathy Givons rescues Australian Shepherds and other ranch herding dogs, and Reno resident Renee Cariglia runs “Little Renee’s Munchkins,” an organization that takes the smaller blind and three-legged dogs, then places them in homes.

The “Judy Project”, headed by Johnye Saylor in Dayton, rescues unwanted cats and nurses motherless litters of kittens until they can be adopted.

A state law requiring animals to be spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter, which was passed a few years ago, has played a major role in reducing the unwanted pet population, Arnold said.

“We also work with the local veterinarians,” she said. “We approached them about 3 years ago about helping. Now, each vet in town helps us by doing one free spaying or neutering a month.”

She said she wasn’t sure exactly how many animals are spayed free of charge each month, but the veterinarians have been very generous.

“Whenever we call, they just tell us to bring them over,” she said.

Arnold works with two officers, a kennel caretaker and maintenance worker at the Carson City’s Animal Services, 3770 Butti Way.

Animal Services is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call them at 887-2171.