Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County

Washoe County in Nevada (population 421,000), includes the cities of Reno (population 225,000) and Sparks (90,000). The three jurisdictions have a public-private partnership for animal control and sheltering. The municipal Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) handles animal control for all three jurisdictions. WCRAS is known for its very successful return-to-owner program, which re-homes a high percentage of animals in the field and actively seeks to find the owners of impounded animals. The great majority of animals not returned to their owners are transferred to the private, non-profit Nevada Humane Society (NHS) for placement. NHS also handles intake of owner surrenders from Washoe County residents. The shelter requires an appointment and a small fee for surrenders.

Leadership at WCRAS changed in 2012 with the retirement of its director, Mitch Schneider. Recently, WCRAS became a stand-alone department. In another big change, Bonney Brown, who started as director of NHS in 2007, resigned in 2013. A Best Friends blog from July 2011 provides a look at how she used pet retention and creative marketing, along with other programs, to reduce intake and increase live outcomes. The new director for NHS is Kevin Ryan, who was previously director of Pet Helpers, a non-profit in Charleston, South Carolina. Under Ryan’s leadership, Pet Helpers was credited with an initiative that increased the save rate in Charleston County from 37% to 77%.

The combined statistics for WCRAS and NHS for 2012 showed a save rate of 92% for cats and dogs, calculated as a percentage of intake. For 2013, the save rate was 90%. The 2013 save rate includes deaths in shelter care with euthanasias. Combined intake was 15,350 in 2013, down slightly from 15,516 in 2012.

Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, Nevada, were originally listed by this blog on April 16, 2013, based on their 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Douglas County, NV

Douglas County has a population of 47,000 people and is located on the western border of Nevada. The county seat is Minden, which has 3,000 people. Minden is next to Gardnerville, which has a population of 5700. Minden and Gardnerville are both census-designated areas, and therefore are not listed individually in the right sidebar.

Douglas County Animal Care and Services (aka the Douglas County Animal Shelter (DCAS)) is a municipal agency that does animal control and has a shelter in Gardnerville that serves the county, Gardnerville, and Minden. DCAS distributes pet food to those who cannot afford it. The Douglas Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) is a private organization that works closely with the shelter and provides many services.

When I called DCAS for more information I was told that the shelter has a waiting list for owner surrenders and encourages owners to rehome their pets through social media. DCAS will make an exception to the waiting list for people who cannot continue to care for a pet, but such exceptions are rarely needed. Another aspect of intake management in Douglas County is that cats are considered free roaming. There is an area rescue, the Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation (WARF), that takes in cats, and DCAS and DAWG together fund a TNR program, but community cats are not impounded by DCAS.

The DCAS statistician told me that in 2012 the shelter took in 721 animals. They had 360 adoptions (the adoption figure includes a small number of transfers to rescues) and returned 367 animals to their owners. They euthanized 15 animals, for a live release rate of 98%.

Douglas County, NV, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, NV

Washoe County in Nevada (population 421,000), includes the cities of Reno (population 225,000) and Sparks (90,000). The three jurisdictions have a public-private partnership for animal control and sheltering. The municipal Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) handles animal control for all three jurisdictions. WCRAS is known for its very successful return-to-owner program, which re-homes a high percentage of animals in the field and actively seeks to find the owners of impounded animals. The great majority of animals not returned to their owners are transferred to the private, non-profit Nevada Humane Society (NHS) for placement. NHS also handles intake of owner surrenders from Washoe County residents. The shelter requires an appointment and a small fee.

NHS has posted the partnership’s summary statistics for 2012 on its website (scroll down the page in the previous link to “Statistics” in the left sidebar), consisting of intake and euthanasia figures. The coalition euthanized 8% of intake in 2012 according to these figures.

WCRAS and NHS have provided separate full statistical reports for 2011, allowing a calculation of their live release rates separately for that year. WCRAS had a 94% live release rate (click on “Maddie’s Fund Report 2011″ for the full statistics), counting transferred animals as live releases. NHS also reported a 94% live release rate for 2011, based on transfers and owner surrenders. If owner requested euthanasia and died/lost in shelter care are included in euthanasias, each organization had a 92% live release rate in 2011.

I was not able to find a full statistical report online combining WCRAS and NHS numbers for 2011, but we can approximate a kill rate by adding the number of animals surrendered to NHS by owners to the number impounded by WCRAS, and comparing that to the total animals euthanized by both agencies. This yields an approximate 8% kill rate for the community as a whole in 2011. (The kill rate for 2011 by this method is 10% if the categories of owner requested euthanasia and died/lost in shelter care are counted in with euthanasias.)

A Best Friends blog from July 2011 provides a look at how the NHS director, Bonney Brown, transformed the shelter after she took over in 2007. The blog describes how Brown has succeeded in reducing intake through pet retention programs and has increased adoptions through creative marketing.