Taking It To The Streets

by Kimberly Wade

I promise I’m not bragging when I say Nevada Humane Society (NHS) has made not only a local difference but a national one for homeless pets. Ok, maybe I am. A little bit. I’ve been with NHS for almost 6 years and I’ve already seen so much that we can do but it never ceases to amaze me at the levels we continue to jump in order to be a voice for those that don’t have one. But this time it’s different. Not only are we helping the four-legged; we’re helping the two-legged as well.

This past weekend, a Pets for Life event was held to offer free vaccines, pet food and pet supplies to a targeted group of people within our local community. Hundreds of people lined up to reap the benefits of our available services and resources. It was a grass roots effort that both staff and volunteers organized to improve community pet health and reduce pet overpopulation—and it was a sight unlike any other.

The event serviced an underserved region (lack of vet care, pet stores and even healthy food options) of town, yet the appreciation from the people and pets in need was beyond genuine. I helped one young woman with three dogs—one Pit Bull, one Chihuahua, and one fluffy terrier—wrangle their excitement as they were given water, treats, and attention from all sorts of life—other dogs, NHS staff, volunteers, and fellow neighbors. The dogs were happy, healthy, and well socialized. The woman was grateful. She expressed her sincere thanks multiple times and was sure to let us know. And she wasn’t the only one. Hundreds of others were there patiently waiting their turn and offering just as much appreciation.

We understand people have bumps in the road and go through tough times. Let’s be real. All of us experience this. And as we at NHS always strive to help our four-legged friends, it isn’t always possible to be everywhere for everyone at every time. We do our best with the resources we have—especially considering the 10,000 plus homeless pets that come through our shelter annually that need to be priority. But when we have added resources so that we can really get out there into the community to the people that need it most, well, we do it. And we enjoy it and we’re proud of helping others.

Pets For Life began at NHS nearly a year ago, after we were awarded a mentorship and training program grant by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and PetSmart Charities® to provide direct, hands on community outreach in Reno. Pets for Life aims to keep pets in the homes they already have, improving their quality of life and elevating the human-animal bond.

Kimberly Wade is the Senior Manager of Communications and Events for Nevada Humane Society. She has been with the organization for nearly 6 years but her passion for animals has existed her entire life. Kimberly lives with her husband, 3 cats (one pictured), 3 dogs and a fish.

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Rising Above the Clouds

What a way to wake up! Reno’s beautiful skyline peppered with the boisterous hues and whimsical shapes of The Great Reno Balloon Races taking flight. I love this time year, in part because I love the Balloon Races and I love watching the summer swelter slip into fall. Yet this weekend is a bit different than last year.

Rising above the silhouette of the Silver Legacy and Whitney Peak, laid against the hills of the Great Basin and the majesty of the Grand Sierra, billows a Nevada Humane Society Balloon. This partnership between two great Reno institutions came to fruition as a result of a lot of hard work and innovation, but most importantly is extraordinarily exciting.

This kind of synthesis between nonprofit organizations is always thrilling and NHS is proud to unfurl our banner on the beautiful Sonoma Star balloon. For me, that is not the most exciting part. The funds that will be raised to benefit NHS is truly lifesaving, but for those of you who regularly read my columns (hi Mom) probably already know that what makes my socks twirl up and down – the metaphor.

Watching Nevada Humane Society soar among the clouds is a physical and visceral reminder of what this organization has achieved. Community members defying the speciousness of gravity as they fly high above the Truckee Meadows with NHS – it’s symbolic of what we have been doing together for so many years. The metaphorical poetry blows me down.

Washoe County has been declared the safest place to be a dog or cat in the United States. Carson City has been a no-kill community for almost a year now and boasts “save and return to owner” rates as high as or higher than any other community in the nation. G.I. Dogs continues to partner rescue animals with veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder and/or traumatic brain injury. Seniors for Seniors pairs older animals with active adults every single day, and Emily’s Fund saves the most vulnerable, most injured and most in need. The compendium of programs and services offered at NHS has made this community better than all the rest. Whether we together face the economic crisis of a few years ago or the increasing numbers of animals needing profound medical intervention, whatever the obstacle we rise above and we soar.

I told you this metaphor really speaks to me…

There are no metrics in which NHS, Washoe County and Carson City don’t lead the nation in the care of homeless, stray and unwanted animals. We stand at the top of this mountain – from adoption per capita to save rate, we fly high. Though, fighting my metaphor, we aren’t buoyed by aerodynamic forces that I don’t understand (please don’t try to explain it to me – I was a history major); we instead are floated by our community, the better angels of our nature insisting there is a better way, and the thousands of faces that look to us to give them a brighter tomorrow.

No community has achieved more over the past decade in animal welfare than this one. End of story. Yet, we cannot yet fly into the sunset. We continue to fight to provide more spay/neuter procedures, meet the medical needs of an increasingly ill and injured population, reach into traditionally underserved communities, protect trap-neuter-return-monitor programs and save ever more lives. This flight is not over – we will continue to rise.

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