Animal Files

Diane Blankenburg, Nevada Humane Society Development Programs Director

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Last week, the Animal Files column featured the SPCA of Northern Nevada and their Executive Director. This community is very fortunate to have yet another wonderful no-kill shelter in this area – Pet Network – and Nevada Humane Society is thrilled to be able to team with both organizations for a common cause.

Pet Network is a non-profit organization located in the heart of Incline Village serving western Nevada and the Lake Tahoe area. In 1991, a small band of volunteers started this organization with the mission of saving lives of at-risk pets. Volunteers are still the heart and soul of their organization and are now reinforced by a staff of dedicated professionals and a state-of-the-art facility. Their current mission is to rescue adoptable animals from euthanasia, connect abandoned animals with loving families, instill respect for animals through education, and promote quality of life through animal companionship.

Becky Goodman became Pet Network’s Executive Director a little over a year ago. Her love of animals started at birth and her parents’ photo albums are filled with pictures of her with animals in tow. Earlier in her career life, she was the Chief Operations Officer at a Credit Union and felt very unfulfilled. The Executive Director position for her local humane society opened up and she applied. “It was the perfect opportunity to combine my knack for business with my love for animals and non- profit work,” said Goodman. “I was ready to give back to the community and animal rescue was my calling.”

She is now part of the Pet Network team that has worked tirelessly to increase their life-saving capacity over the past year, focusing on collaborative efforts with other rescues and animal control agencies all over the region. “We are working to make Washoe County a no-kill community, where every adoptable animal is guaranteed a home,” said Goodman. “Pet Network will do everything in its power to make that happen.”

To Goodman, “no-kill” represents a time within the community where animals are valued and saved through responsible pet ownership, appropriate legislation, and collaborative efforts of shelters, rescues, veterinarians, and the public. “When every adoptable animal is guaranteed a home, we will have achieved our goal. ”

The challenges are great, but the rewards make it all worthwhile. “With the current economy, sustainability is the greatest challenge we face,” said Goodman. “Animals are being abandoned at record rates and donations are significantly lower than last year. Rescue and rehabilitation is an expensive endeavor, and we need help to continue our life-saving work.” But for Goodman, it is all worthwhile when she sees animals that came into their shelter frightened, sick, or abused and walk out the door happy and healthy into a wonderful home.

Pet Network’s adoptions have increased by more than 50% over the past eight months, of which they are very proud, but not satisfied as long as adoptable animals are at risk. Goodman believes that our community’s animals need full-scale collaboration between every facet and faction of the community – private citizens, corporate partners, shelters, rescue groups, veterinarians, and public officials. She states that we must stop unwanted breeding of pets, focus on finding homes for the pets in need, and create community buy-in for a no-kill community. In her own words, “Saving animals is a community-wide project and we need every person within the community to be involved if we are truly to guarantee every adoptable animal a home.”

Goodman practices what she preaches and has put enormous effort into collaborating with the other local animal welfare groups. She believes we live in a model rescue community, where local rescues support and assist each other with the same passion they support themselves. “Nevada Humane Society, SPCA of Northern Nevada, and Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation have all been so supportive of Pet Network’s initiatives to increase their capacity and we sincerely appreciate their support and assistance.”

This community truly demonstrates that when rescues and shelters collaborate, the animals are the winners. This collaboration maximizes the impact of the individual organization and makes a much stronger collective difference as Washoe County becomes one of the safest places in the country for homeless animals. A place I am proud to call home!

Want more information?
Call or visit Pet Network: 401 Village Boulevard Incline Village, NV 89451 (775) 832-4404.

Canine Rivalry

Bonney Brown, Nevada Humane Society Executive Director

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Unlike us, dogs do not long for life in a democratic society where each individual has an equal vote. The ideal society for a dog is one where they are part of a pack hierarchy. Not every dog will be the pack leader and they like it that way.

To ensure maximum harmony in your multi-dog family, you need to work with the nature of dogs. You may want to create an atmosphere of fairness between the dogs, but it is healthiest if you allow the dogs to determine their own pack order. It can be hard to resist interfering when one dog always gets the most desirable toy or pushes to get your attention, but this is the way dog society works. Trying to impose your idea of equality can create problems between the dogs.

The most important thing you can do to create a secure, comfortable pack for all of your dogs is to establish yourself at the top of the hierarchy, followed by the other people in the household. While many of us may view our dogs as friends and family members, dogs want to know that they can count on us to be in charge of their world. By making it clear that you are the leader, you enable the dogs to relax into their pack rather than vying for top-dog position. Your leadership status helps them peacefully sort out their lower place in the social structure.

One of the ways dogs assess their place in pack hierarchy is through their access to resources, such as food, toys, sleeping spots, and your attention. As pack leader, you need to set the standards of behavior and enforce them consistently, at the same time supporting the pack order the dogs have determined between themselves.

Conflicts may arise between dogs when the ranking of each dog is not clear or is in contention. Changes in the group – the addition of a new dog, the aging of an old dog, or the passing of a dog – can trigger a change in the pack order and may result in new conflict between the dogs.

If your dog’s behavior changes, if he withdraws or becomes more aggressive with the other animals, it’s a good idea to first rule out any medical issues with a trip to the veterinarian.

Intact dogs are more likely to engage in aggressive behaviors. Spaying or neutering your dogs will make your household more harmonious and will help resolve conflict without fights.

Punishment will not resolve issues between dogs and could make it worse. If one of your dogs is exhibiting aggression toward another, it is best to get an animal behaviorist or professional trainer to help you devise a strategy to control the problem before it can escalate. The appropriate response depends upon the personalities of your dogs and the nature of the problems, so you will need customized expert advice. A good place to start is with a call to the Nevada Humane Society Animal Help Desk at 775-856-2000 ext. 200.

Your dogs are looking to you to understand their nature, to provide guidance and consistent training. True happiness for a dog comes from being part of the pack and knowing they can count on you, the leader of the pack.

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