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NHS: ‘No-kill’ policy seeing success
by Cortney Maddock
May 05, 2010 | 1349 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune File/Cortney Maddock - Participants at the 2008 Nevada Humane Society's Walk for Animals finish their lap around the Sparks Marina. This year, the walk will be held Saturday, May 22 at the Sparks Marina.
Tribune File/Cortney Maddock - Participants at the 2008 Nevada Humane Society's Walk for Animals finish their lap around the Sparks Marina. This year, the walk will be held Saturday, May 22 at the Sparks Marina.
RENO — About a month ago, the Nevada Humane Society released statistics about the number of animals saved in 2009. The no-kill shelter, which is run by executive director Bonnie Brown, was able to save 93 percent of dogs and 95 percent of cats that entered the facility, according to the March press release. 

In the wake of rising animal surrenders at the shelter, this adoption rate is a success shared with the community, Brown said. 

“This community has always been animal friendly and has a high save rate,” Brown said. 

Brown was hired as the executive director for the Nevada Humane Society about three and a half years ago. She has worked in the field since 1991 with animal groups in Utah and Massachusetts, which was also a no-kill organization. Although she comes from an extensive background of organizations that adhere to the no-kill policy, Brown said the Nevada Humane Society was already looking to move in that direction when she interviewed there. 

A “no-kill” policy means animals will only be euthanized for medical reasons or extreme behavior issues. If the animal can receive veterinary help or behavior training, the shelter will work with the animal to rehabilitate it. 

“The board of directors decided we should go in this direction in the fall of 2006,” Brown said. “It predates me being here; I was hired to implement it.” 

Since 2006, the Nevada Humane Society has seen an increase in animals that come to the facility to be relinquished as well as an increase in the number of animals that find permanent homes. 

According to the March press release, in 2006 the humane society was able to find homes for 4,660 animals. This number was before the shelter switched to the no-kill policy. 

After instating the no-kill policy, the Nevada Humane Society saw a 61 percent increase in adoptions in 2007, resulting in 8,030 animals finding homes. In 2008, 8,635 animals were adopted and in 2009, 9,184 pets found permanent homes. 

Brown credits the no-kill policy with the increased rate of finding loving families for its dogs, cats and other animals. 

“It’s truly a growing trend,” Brown said. “That is why the board decided to go that way. The more and more people surveyed say they view their pets as family members. 

“That is why the humane society only euthanizes for medical reasons or for aggression in larger dogs,” Brown added. “Other than that, the old, the ugly, the injured, the sick and the bad-behaved — we try to save the animal.” 

Brown’s goal of achieving a 100 percent adoption rate has become more difficult since an increased number of pet owners have had to relinquish their pets to the humane society in the past two years. 

“It has become more challenging because of the people who can no longer take care of their pet,” Brown said, adding this includes people who have lost their homes to foreclosure as well as pet owners who can no longer afford to take care of their pets because they lost their job or other financial hardship. 

“We rely on donations to do our work,” Brown said. “One thing people can do if they’re able is be a foster home for an animal. 

“This means the volunteer temporarily cares for the animal,” Brown added. “It’s really fun, people enjoy doing it and it saves a lot of lives.” 

Foster families look after kittens and puppies until they are ready to be adopted, Brown explained. Foster animals need to weigh at least one pound; for dogs and cats this usually is at about 8 to 9 weeks old, she said. 

Brown said the shelter is also looking for pet food donations. 

“Bags of dry cat and dog food are needed right now,” Brown said. 

“We’re an independent organization, we don’t receive any money from the Humane Society of the United States,” Brown explained. “If you want to make sure your money stays locally, send it to a local address.” 

The shelter is located at 2825 Longley Lane, Reno, 89502.

In addition to donations, the Nevada Humane Society will hold the Walk for Animals from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on May 22 at the Sparks Marina. Brown said it is a great opportunity to help raise awareness and funds. 

“I feel like this achievement for the animals is an achievement for the community,” Brown said. “It really says a lot about this community.” 

For more information about the Nevada Humane Society, donations and the Walk for Animals, visit

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