NHS to Partner with Carson City Animal Services

Life at Nevada Humane Society is always hectic. Our expansive suite of programs is enough to keep any organization busy, but when you marry that workload with the 15,000 animals that we will treat this year—it can be daunting, even intimidating. That’s why we ask you not to judge too harshly when you see a member of staff wandering the aisles of Smith’s or Raley’s mumbling about cats or spay/neuter appointments. We work hard because we care, because so many rely on us—failure is not an option. Thus, we live by the motto of onward and upward. “More” is our watchword—not because we need more work or are lousy with free time but because “more” literally translates to an ever-increasing number of lives impacted and lives saved. Two-legged and four-legged alike.

NHS has been a fixture in Reno, Northern Nevada and the state since 1932. Over the eighty years we have served Washoe County much has changed. Our services have expanded, contracted, evolved and adapted—both to our changing community and the changing landscape of animal welfare. We have fought to remain on the cutting edge of our industry, innovating to provide our community the best and most substantiated programs and initiatives. In 2007, this drive combined with emerging data ceded the greatest undertaking in our history. NHS, stepping out on mostly unexplored terrain, challenged ourselves and our community to become one of the nation’s fist no-kill communities. We did just that. What takes most organizations and communities years, even decades, we achieved in under a year. NHS and the people of Washoe County did not stop there. We labored to achieve ever higher levels of lifesaving. All of this culminated in 2012 when Maddie’s Fund declared Washoe County the safest place to be a dog or cat in the United States. All of this said our work is far from done; we still face many challenges and have many goals we still strive to reach.

This drive to make an ever-expanding impact in our community has led us to the largest augmentation of NHS since 2007—when we helped change the world, proving no-kill is a realistic possibility for not just one shelter but for an entire community. We plan to prove this true one more time. On October 1st NHS is expanding to Carson City, partnering with the city to make Nevada’s capitol its second no-kill community. This journey will be arduous, it will be strewn with obstacles, but we will not be deterred. We WILL transform Carson City, we will save thousands and then tens of thousands of lives, and we will again prove that Northern Nevada is a truly a remarkable place. This time, we will achieve our goal of forging a no-kill community much more quickly as we will endeavor to summit that challenge in one month. It is my vow to this region that we will not fail.

This augmentation is just that, an increase in services. We will not abate, mitigate or retreat from our commitment to Washoe County. We will stretch, grow and adapt, just as we have for the past eight decades. We will need your help. We will need the entire community to volunteer, adopt, support, and advocate for this new undertaking. One more time unto the breach, dear friends—this will be exceedingly difficult, yet as we have demonstrated in Washoe County, it is exceedingly worth it.

Special thanks to everyone who made this new lifesaving effort possible, including the Carson City Board of Supervisors, Carson City Staff, the volunteers of CASI, and all those who have searched for a new beginning for Carson City. NHS will make you very proud.

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A Home Run for Bess

Let’s face it. Last week was a singularly spectacular week for Northern Nevada. Tesla announced that it is now officially Battle Born, the Wolf Pack showed the PAC-10 who is boss, our Aces began their run for the title, and perhaps in a slightly less-heralded event, Bess the dog was adopted. Now, I understand that with all of last week’s superlative fanfare, that there is a chance this last bit of news passed you by. There might even be chance that a pet adoption does not strike you as congruent with the other bombastic events that took place last week. I can understand that. I forgive you. I can only assume that you did not have the opportunity to meet Bess, which would make all the difference.

Bess is a 5-year-old, black-and-white Staffordshire Terrier. In other words, Bess is a Pit Bull. Well, technically she is some amalgamation of dog breeds that produced a square head, a sweet face, and an eminently charming disposition. What proportions or percentages of heritage created Bess is almost impossible to guess. She had a sort of a long, squat body and floppy ears – she could never pass breed standards to be considered a Staffy. She is a dog. A pretty special dog.

Through a variety of circumstances, all outside of her control, Bess was with us at Nevada Humane Society for quite a while. As a result of her tenure, and in much larger part due to her incredible sweetness, most of us at NHS were instantly and forever smitten by this mess of a dog. She’d practically climb you to deliver huge wet kisses, and she’d barrel into you to get as close as she possibly could. Bess must be a believer that physical distance equates with emotional distance and she wants to leave no question how she feels. She loves you, she loves everybody.

Bess is a little older and labeled a Pit Bull and—in spite of her incredible demeanor–she stayed with us for longer than she deserved (NHS has a stunningly low average length of stay of 13 days for dogs). As demonstrated in a letter to this paper printed just last week, Pit Bulls have a reputation. Certainly there have been some pretty ugly incidents recently and these events help contribute to the negative perception of what has been described as “America’s dog. “

As is typically wise in these situations, it is best to review the facts. According to the American Temperament Testing Society, 90% of dogs labeled as Pit Bulls (typically a conglomeration of a number of different breeds and mixes) passed their evaluation–a far higher “passing” rate than many other breeds. At the end of the day, NHS treats every dog as an individual. Each dog is evaluated using the most effective, predictive behavior assessment available. Any dogs who show profound human or animal aggression are not made available for adoption. NHS considers the dual obligations of saving pet’s lives and keeping our community safe to be our most sacrosanct responsibilities.

Data on the issue of dog bites and aggression is hard to come by. Data is almost impossible to uniformly and accurately collect. Both sides shout loud and present often questionable statistics. Here’s the skinny as far as I see it, and I see a lot of dogs. Work hard to educate yourself, teach your kids how to prevent dog bites, train your dog to have good manners, adopt from reputable sources, spay and neuter your pets, and help create a safe community for everyone. In my experience, there is no good or bad dog breed; there are dogs with a variety of innate and environmental variables, just like you and me. Not for nothing, but I have done this for a long time and I have been bitten three times. It was never by a Pit Bull.

Bess went to a great family. That family got a great dog. I don’t know about you, but I am celebrating. Special thanks to the Reno Aces for helping Bess find a home. She was adopted at the ballpark thanks to our home team, an incredible volunteer named Shelly, and a staff member named Sam. The Aces won that night.

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