Carson City animal shelter clinic makes sense to society CEO

A clinic at Carson City’s new animal shelter is best because it attacks the problem rather than merely dealing with symptoms, according to the Nevada Humane Society’s leader.

Kevin Ryan, head of the Reno-based society who contracts to oversee city government animal services and shelter operations, was asked Tuesday if having no clinic in the multi-million dollar shelter planned here would alter the society’s outlook regarding long term continuation of the pact with city government.

“I doubt that it would change our outlook,” he replied. But he said it would make spay/neuter work and efforts to eradicate animals’ diseases or deal with their injuries more difficult and costly. “You’re treating the symptom and not the problem. You’re just going to triage the problem and not address it.”

The society spays or neuters animals, implants microchips for owner identification and oversees strays via adoptions.

Ryan was contacted prior to Thursday’s city Board of Supervisors meeting at which discussion and possible action were expected on building the shelter. It was budgeted for $3.9 million but the first set of bids were higher, value engineering couldn’t or didn’t delete sufficient costs to end the shortfall, and the board was being asked by city staff to increase the expenditure plan to $4.5 million.

Ryan, who said such decisions ultimately are up to the board as it’s the city’s shelter, gave his opinion regarding operational matters. He said no clinic would make it more costly because clinic medical, spay-neuter and related work would have to be done elsewhere. He also said a garage is best for handling animals at the shelter when some prove dangerous or become elusive in transition from vehicles to the shelter.

“What we would like to see is a drive-through garage,” he said, calling it a safety issue. Other aspects of the facility that may be discussed Thursday include the number of dog runs, kennel space and the like. He said he prefers “as much space as is possible.”

Ryan said the Carson City shelter currently intakes 140 animals monthly, or 1,960 on an annual basis, but he anticipates that will increase to more than 2,400 this year as summer months heighten activity. Ryan said his figures don’t include the 40 animals monthly dealt with by field personnel who pick up animals but return them to owners directly rather than taking them to the shelter. The society has operated the shelter since Oct. 1, 2014, when the city entered into a $700,000 a year contract with the society to operate the shelter.

He said field personnel will and does write citations when necessary, but the approach is to handle any situation correctly and short of using that as a remedy if possible.

“Our goal is not to write tickets,” the society CEO said, amending that reference to citations. “We will write them if we have to.”

He said in quite serious situations involving animals, such as criminal activity, sheriff’s deputies will be called in as well. But he said much of what humane society personnel do, besides returning animals to owners or taking them to the shelter, involves neighborhood disputes.

He said since the pact with the city last October, 21 citations and 410 notices of violation had been issued by his personnel.

On another matter, Ryan said a citizens’ animal services oversight panel has been constituted and meets initially on Wednesday, June 24. He said state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer heads the unit and because of the recent legislative session the panel has yet to meet. Kieckhefer is a society board member who resides in south Reno, but his legislative district includes Carson City.

Ryan said the panel has five members, with city residents, including a supervisor. He said he and City Manager Nick Marano may attend meetings as well. He said the unit is going to meet the fourth Wednesday of every other month, so the second meeting is anticipated on Aug. 26.

Ryan indicated he intends to attend Thursday’s city governing board meeting and would testify if necessary. Among other matters that might be raised then will be whether the shelter will be just for Carson City animals or also for others regionally. Ultimately, Ryan said, that’s up to the board but he didn’t anticipate such a change.

“It’s going to take everything that we have to keep up with the need in Carson City,” he said.


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