Home>775Times>Homeless Pet Crisis Looms as Animal Shelters in Washoe County Struggle with Overcrowding

Homeless Pet Crisis Looms as Animal Shelters in Washoe County Struggle with Overcrowding

By TheNevadaGlobeStaff, May 31, 2023 7:42 pm

NEVADA – Walk through the kennels at Washoe County Animal Services and you’ll hear the desperate barks of dogs seeking attention. Each stall houses a homeless pet, and for many, this shelter is their second-to-last stop before an uncertain fate.

These dogs have ended up here through no fault of their own. If they could speak, they would tell stories of their past lives, of owners they’re waiting for, and of being lost or abandoned. In normal times, they would wait here in hopes of being reunited with their families. And if that didn’t happen, they would move next door to the Nevada Humane Society, where they would patiently wait for adoption into a new forever home.

But these are not normal times. There is no room here or there. There is no space for the next homeless pooch. If something doesn’t change, the people working here may face a heartbreaking choice that hasn’t been considered in this town for 15 years: some animals may have to be euthanized simply because there is no available space.

Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, who chairs the Advisory Committee for Animal Services, expresses her deep concern about this situation. “That is a heartbreaking choice, for the staff, for anyone involved with animals,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if you work there or not, the idea of losing an animal because there is no space is unacceptable.”

What has led to this crisis? We can attribute it to various factors: the lingering effects of the pandemic, people who adopted pets out of loneliness but now find themselves less committed, the housing crisis, the changing economy, and shifting lifestyles. All of these factors have played a role, but knowing the reasons alone does not bring us closer to solutions. However, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t contribute to help.

“If you can, please consider adopting,” advises Duerr, who shares a heartwarming story of her own experience in adopting a homeless dog. “Foster if it’s possible. If you have lost a pet, go and search for it. It might be waiting for you at the Humane Society or Animal Services. Take it home.” Duerr also encourages volunteering and, for those unable to do anything else, making donations. Every contribution can make a difference and support these vital services.

Credits: KOLOTV

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