Free Adoptions

by Diane Blankenburg 

The word “free” conjures up a lot of different emotions—from super excitement to cautious skepticism. In the animal welfare world, it stirs up controversy when it comes to pet adoptions. Some people worry that free pet adoptions may devalue the animal from the adopter’s point of view and that it may attract adopters who are not able to afford the ongoing care of pets. On the other side are advocates that believe free adoptions will increase adoption rates and provide opportunities to entice and educate people who might otherwise obtain a pet from other sources. Ultimately, lives can be at stake, so this debate can be quite emotional.

Fortunately, there have been a several recent studies that provide hard data to help form opinions. A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science (October 2009) examined the attachment of adopters to their cats in relation to adoption payment or fee waived. Statistical analysis of the results showed no significant difference in the two groups’ attachment to their cats.

Taking it a step further, the University of Florida in Gainesville conducted research in 2011 through their Maddie’s Shelter Medicine program on the relationship between pet retention and adoption fees. The results showed that pets adopted both with or without fees have similar rates of retention in the home, similar lifestyles, and similar owner attachment. Shelters that waive fees to increase adoptions are unlikely to see any reduction in the quality of adoptive homes.

Maddie’s Fund, a family foundation dedicated to creating a nation where all healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats are guaranteed a loving home, actively supports these conclusions and is funding massive fee-waived adoption events on June 1 and 2 in selected communities throughout the country. Our community was very fortunate to have been chosen (one of eight) as the location for one of these events—Nevada Humane Society, SPCA of Northern Nevada, and Pet Network Humane Society are three of 200 groups participating nationwide this year.

On June 1 and 2, Maddie’s Fund is sponsoring Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days in Washoe County. Free adoptions of dogs and cats will be offered to qualified adopters at participating locations (see for list of locations). Maddie’s Fund is also offering each participating group a stipend ranging from $500 to $2,000 per adoption—part of $4 million set aside for this year’s events.

The ultimate goal is to adopt animals into homes where they will receive love and care for the rest of their lives. By adopting a pet at one of the Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days locations, you will also be raising money for local animal shelters to save even more pets! Please help spread the word that shelter animals make great companion pets and how many are still looking for loving homes to call their own.

Upcoming Events that Help Animals

Maddie’s Adoption Days, June 1 – 2. Adopt wonderful dogs and cats for free at various locations throughout the weekend. Visit for more information.

Time 2 Shine Adoption Promotion at Nevada Humane Society. Adopt a Shining Star Pet with fees waived through May 31. Other adult dogs are $50, adult cats are $25, and kittens are $60. Open for adoptions seven days a week from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm and an hour earlier at 10:00 am on Saturdays. Shelter located at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno.



Finding Your Lost Pet

by Bonney Brown

In the blink of an eye your pet can become lost. While it’s very distressing, there is a good chance that you will recover your pet if you move quickly and don’t give up.

Generally, an indoor cat will hide when they escape outdoors. The disappearance of an outdoor cat indicates that something has happened to prevent the cat from coming home. While posters and shelter searches are important, they will not help if the cat is injured and hiding in silence, as cats tend to do. There is no substitute for a thorough physical search of the area—looking under and in every conceivable hiding place in your yard and in your neighbors’ yards. Simply asking others to look is not sufficient. Many cats can be found within a five-house radius.

A lost cat is usually so fearful that they will not come out from hiding even if they hear or see a much-loved person. Instinct drives them to keep hidden and silent. A humane trap is often the best way to recover the cat.

Dogs can go missing for a variety of reasons—from an opportunistic journey when a gate is accidentally left open to panic that can set in when a dog is frightened. A frightened dog will travel fast and likely be unresponsive even to someone they love and trust.

Recovering a lost dog is all about launching an effective marketing campaign. Creating large bright posters with brief wording and a photo is far more effective than letter-sized posters.

In your flyers or ads, withhold at least one identifying characteristic you can use to verify that a person has actually found your pet. Do not include your name, address, or a specific reward amount. When you go to claim your pet, take someone along and do not pay any reward until you have your pet back. Sad to say, there have been scams perpetrated on people eager to be reunited with their pet.

Don’t take a wait-and-see approach. The first few hours can be critical in terms of finding the pet and connecting with people who may have seen the pet.

Don’t give up too soon, either. Pets are recovered weeks and months after they are lost. Persistence pays off!


Microchips are a huge asset in getting pets back home. For a limited time, Washoe County Regional Animal Services is offering FREE microchips to all Washoe County pet owners. Visit their website at


Upcoming Events that Help Animals

Time 2 Shine Adoption Promotion at Nevada Humane Society. Adopt a Shining Star Pet with fees waived through May 31. Other adult dogs are $50, adult cats are $25, and kittens are $60. Open for adoptions seven days a week from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm and an hour earlier at 10:00 am on Saturdays. Shelter located at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno.

My Changing Role at Nevada Humane Society

By Diane Blankenburg

As some of you may know, I recently resigned as Community Programs and Development Director at Nevada Humane Society to work full-time with Humane Network, my own business that will provide consulting services to other groups who want to create no-kill communities. This was a bittersweet decision but one that is part of a bigger plan to make an even bigger difference for the homeless pets in our country.

While at Nevada Humane Society, I have learned so much, met so many amazing people, and been inspired by the dedication of our staff and community. I will be continuing to work part-time for several months until my duties can be totally fulfilled by others and plan to stay living in Reno, so I will stay connected in one way or another. Nevada Humane Society will always be in my heart.

As much as I will miss Nevada Humane Society, I am also very excited to have the opportunity to take what I have learned here and use it to help other organizations and communities realize the same kind of success. I truly believe we will see the day when all of our nation’s homeless pets have a safety net as they do in our community.

As I make this transition, I plan to stay very involved in the life-saving efforts here in Reno. It will be interesting and fun to be a participant in some of our events—like the Walk for Animals on May 18 at Sparks Marina. I plan to be there with one (or two) of my own dogs in tow. I will also continue to write this column for the Reno-Gazette Journal—something I truly love and am humbled by the opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless animals in our community.

The past six years have been an amazing journey and I feel so honored to have been a part of the remarkable transformation on behalf of all of the homeless pets of our community. I am incredibly proud to say that Washoe County is now the safest metropolitan community in the country for homeless pets. Thanks to each and every one of you for all you have done to create such a compassionate and caring place that I call home! And I hope to see you all at the Walk for Animals next week and many other events throughout the year!

Special Events that Help Animals:

Time 2 Shine Adoption Promotion at Nevada Humane Society. Adopt a Shining Star with fees waived through May 31. Other adult dogs are $50, adult cats are $25, and kittens are $60. Open for adoptions seven days a week from 11:00 am to 6:30 pm and an hour earlier at 10:00 am on Saturdays. Shelter located at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno. .

Walk for Animals, May 18 at Sparks Marina, 9am – 1pm. Register today to help raise funds for homeless pets. Brochures available at area businesses. Download one or register online at

Our Wild Neighbors

By Bonney Brown

Watching birds or other wild animals reconnects us to the beauty of nature, but when a critter finds its way into your attic or vegetable garden, you probably won’t have that same warm fuzzy feeling.

Animals can fit through surprisingly small spaces, so secure your chimney and dryer vent with caps and look carefully at the exterior of your home for small gaps and crevices. Holes should be plugged temporarily with a piece of cloth or paper. The plug will be disturbed if an animal was inside; if it remains in place for a couple of days it’s safe to seal the hole permanently without risk of trapping an animal inside. If an animal is inside, we can provide information to help you ensure that the animals are safely removed.

If you hire a wildlife control service, look for one that treats animals humanely. You’ll want to find out how the animals will be handled and their fate after removal.

To keep animals out of your garden, a combination of the right fencing and a spray or granular animal repellent works best.

Kind people often worry about orphaned wildlife, but the absence of parents does not necessarily indicate that babies are in need of help. Many animals leave their young for hours, even all day or night. Baby bunnies can survive without their mom when they are four inches long. The mother animal will be afraid to return while humans or pets are in sight, so bring pets and children inside and watch from a distance.

It is normal for fledglings (young birds) to spend time on the ground. In most cases, it is best to not interfere, but if you are concerned, you could place the fledgling in a low shrub or tree.

If you find a baby bird that does not have any feathers, look in the nearest tree for the nest. If you cannot reach it, create a makeshift nest from a berry basket, place dry grass into the bottom and hang it in the tree. In most cases, the parents will hear the babies and care for them. Baby birds will not be rejected because a human has touched them.

In most cases, keeping baby animals in the wild with their mom gives them their very best chance of survival.

Special Events that Help Animals:

Walk for Animals, May 18 at Sparks Marina. Register today to help raise funds for homeless pets. Brochures available at area businesses, Download one or register online at


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