Don’t Miss Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days

I cannot be trusted with secrets. I am a loudmouth, a spiller of beans, a flibbertyjibbet. I tell you this not as a cautionary tale, though consider yourself warned, but because I am about to let the proverbial cat out of the bag (please don’t keep cats in bags, Nevada Humane Society is against that). Next weekend is a very big deal in Washoe County and Carson City. Big doings in Northern Nevada— mark your calendars, call your friends and alert your Twitter armies! For what you may ask? I’m building tension, creating suspense, building up your anticipation until you cannot take it another minute.  Ask Lazyboy for a refund because all you need of your chair is the edge of your seat. Drum roll please…

I am thrilled to trumpet that Washoe County’s no-kill coalition has once again been invited to participate in Maddie’s Fund’s incredible, superlative, monumental, and unrivaled Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days! For the third time in Northern Nevada Maddie’s Fund will sponsor the adoption fees—meaning fee-waived, free, no-cost, your money is no good here—for all dog and cat adoptions on May 30th and 31st at Nevada Humane Society Reno, Nevada Humane Society Carson City, Canine Rehabilitation Center Sanctuary (CRCS), Pet Network Humane Society and SPCA of Northern Nevada. Each organization will have a number of offsite adoption events and will be chalked full of amazing pets looking for their forever homes (for a list of adoption locations and available pets visit ). Thanks to the infinite generosity of Maddie’s Fund you can find unconditional love for absolutely free.

This amazing weekend of lifesaving is made possible by Maddie’s Fund; a family foundation founded in 1994 by Workday co-founder Dave Duffield and his wife, Cheryl, who have endowed the Foundation with more than $300 million. Since then, they have awarded more than $153 million in grants toward increased community lifesaving, shelter medicine education, and pet adoptions across the U.S. The Duffield’s named Maddie’s Fund after their Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who always made them laugh and comforted them during stressful times when Dave was launching a startup software company. Maddie was with Dave and Cheryl from 1987-1997 and continues to inspire them today.

Last year, Washoe County adopted over 500 animals in just two days. With Maddie’s Fund picking up the tab, help Northern Nevada top this goal, find hundreds of animals wonderful forever homes and help us empty the shelters. That’s right; the goal for the 2015 Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days is to empty NHS Reno, NHS Carson City, CRCS, Pet Network and SPCA. Help us leave each of our houses empty for the first time in history. Help us reach a new high water mark in the arc of animal welfare in Nevada by adopting May 30 and 31st from one of the no-kill coalition members. History is made by those who show up; I hope to see you next weekend.

Empty shelters will demonstrate this community’s commitment to homeless, abandoned and neglected animals. Empty shelters will allow us to prepare for the rough and tumble, crazy-busy summer months in which we will be swamped with animals. Empty shelters will once again reinforce that this is the most animal-friendly community in the nation. Empty shelters will be a result of the amazing work of Maddie’s Fund. #ThanksToMaddie

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Reaching Out to Underserved Communities

Animal welfare has changed significantly over the past few decades. Prior to the 1970s the outlook for stray, abandoned, or neglected animals was pretty grim. Data, what was available, clearly indicates that at least 100 animals were euthanized per every 1,000 people in the United States. A pretty staggering number, it is the numeric expression of “those who came in never went back out alive.”

Luckily, smart and dedicated folks recognized that euthanasia was never going to solve the problems facing companion animals and moreover our pets and our communities deserved better. Low-cost, high-quality spay and neuter clinics began to open; TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs began to sprout up and forever changed our understanding of community cat populations; and quite simply, more people adopted more pets. Better shelters have been dreamed up and brick and mortar realities built. Shelter medicine became not just a position for a veterinarian, but a calling and a board-certified specialty. Leaders in the animal welfare community like Maddie’s Fund, PetSmart Charities and the Petco Foundation produced research and provided financial support to those innovators changing the world. As animal welfare progressed, grew and matured, we learned that much was possible and visionaries began blazing a new trail and demonstrating that things we thought impossible were very much within our grasp.

One such notable leap forward was the construction of our nation’s pioneer no-kill communities. Washoe County was among those early few, proving that the old practices and policies were based upon wrongheaded assumptions and outdated thinking. In one year, Nevada Humane Society transformed Washoe County into a no-kill community. No animal that could be saved was or has been euthanized ever since – we still boast one of the highest save rates in the nation. NHS’ Bonney Brown and her team dreamed that this was possible and then forged that dream into a reality.

NHS again is poised to help redefine animal welfare in this community. For 83 years NHS has been the place our community has come when there was nowhere else to turn. It is now time for NHS to take its lifesaving programs, innovative interventions, and caring hands to underserved communities.

In 2014, NHS’ Animal Resource Center launched an outreach initiative that takes services and information directly to the community that needs it most. Our focus is on early intervention and proactive community impact.

These efforts took a monumental stride forward when NHS was selected for a Pets For Life (PFL) Mentorship, a Humane Society of the United States program supported by PetSmart Charities. As one of five target communities selected in the country in 2014, our Animal Resource Center staff are working closely with the PFL team to effect long-term and lasting change in our community.

By sharing the PFL goal – to improve the lives of people and animals in underserved communities by reducing suffering, preventing shelter overpopulation, and promoting veterinary care – we are actively strengthening our community and its humane relationship with animals.

This is NHS’ boldest outreach initiative since our no-kill community was built and this endeavor will forever change Northern Nevada. NHS has long been a fixture of our community and now we strive to become a dynamic force sewn into the fabric of the community, a bridge to assistance for those who most need it, and for too long have been those unable to find the help they need.

NHS is blessed to have the state-of-the-art shelter and clinic that we call home; it has been instrumental in saving well north of 75,000 animals since the doors of the Link Piazzo Shelter first flung open. While we are proud to call 2825 Longley Lane home, we are over the moon to strike out from the confines our building and hit the street, changing the world one block at a time.

One client impacted by this program articulated the impact far better than I ever could “I just can’t believe Nevada Humane Society is providing these services for our community – no one else comes out here to offer help like this.”

Kevin M. Ryan is chief executive officer for the Nevada Humane Society.

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Always Room To Learn

It is easy to think that we know all there is to know about dogs and cats. After all, dogs and cats have been domesticated for a millennia and many of us have had furry family members since we were in swaddling clothes. Myself included—the Ryan household boasted an unpleasant cat, a poorly behaved dog, an obese hamster, hearty fish, a super affectionate rat, and even a very vocal bird. What else do I possibly have to learn about pets? When I walk past our adoption desk I often hear, “we’ve had dogs forever, we know what we’re doing.” I’m sure they do; I’m pretty sure I do too. Yet this past week at Nevada Humane Society was a bombastic reminder that I, all of us at NHS, are not done learning.

NHS boasts an incredible staff. Folks from every walk of life and every demographic—animal smarts ranging from enthusiast to nationally-recognized experts—we know what we’re doing.  We receive calls every week from around the nation asking how we did it, how we do it, and how we sustain it—how do we remain the safest place to be a dog or cat in America? We are always happy to share in hopes that every community can become like ours, a no-kill community where every animal that can be saved is saved. It’s true, we as a community are pretty special, and it could go to your head.

We know that you, our community, would not permit such laurel-resting so NHS staff scours the nation looking for what’s next in animal welfare, what’s new and what can we replicate here. Believe it or not, animal sheltering is a robust research field and new studies emerge on a near daily basis. NHS puts much stock in continuing education and innovation. It’s what’s gotten us where we are and is what will keep us where we want to be. It was in this pursuit that I once again was reminded that I have much to learn.

NHS was thrilled and honored to host internationally-acclaimed animal behavior and shelter expert Kelley Bollen at our Washoe County Complex this past week. Kelley came to both eyeball our operations and teach us how we can do better, as well as to present a series of seminars to teach us new and innovative ways to help our animals while they are in our care.  An incredible four days filled with edification, enlightenment, and a humbling reminder that we can always do better.

Kelley worked with staff and volunteers on how to enrich the animals’ lives while they’re in a shelter. We’re very lucky to have the facility we do—it’s a state-of-the-art complex that allows us to keep a large volume of animals healthy as they await a new home. Yet, we have to remember that this is not the environment that a dog or cat was meant to live in. They’re built for your house, not NHS’. Nonetheless, we know that over 16,000 animals will spend some amount of time with us this year and we want to make sure it’s as healthy and mentally stimulating as possible. Kelley taught us to engage all five senses as much as possible and turn workaday tasks into a game. Everything from feeding to preparing for a walk can be like a Sudoku puzzle for a dog or cat. We just have to spend enough time thinking outside the box to develop these processes. NHS is becoming the Will Shortz of animal care.

Kelley also helped us continue to develop skills to help animals that come out of difficult circumstances and prepare them for adoption. Ms. Bollen put us in our animals shoes and asked us to determine the good, the bad, and the “what could be better.” She taught us to better detect stress in our animals and how to better prepare them for the homes—homes that you will soon make them a part.

It was an incredible four days. I learned an incredible amount and I am still trying to dig my way out of the pile of information that I did not know and I am now excited to see implemented. It was a weekend to never forget, a weekend that reminded me that I am far from done learning. It reminded me that saving these animals is just step one on the journey to a forever home. We owe them all we can give and I can assure you that they will continue to get our very best.

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