Heidi Jared, public affairs coordinator for RTIA, said the dogs are important for airport security as they handle bomb sniffing and other functions.
“They’re extremely important,” Jared said. “We’ve been trying to educate the public that the airport is its own city within a city with its own fire and police departments. These dogs are always ready to respond. They help screen cargo and maintain a high level of safety.”
Enjoying a few hours Saturday morning for a healthy walk, the airport officers joined hundreds of local residents for the Nevada Humane Society’s Walk for Animals, a 2-mile fun walk to help raise money to care for the county’s homeless animals.
“Last year, we raised about $70,000,” community NHS programs director Diane Blankenberg said on Saturday. “This year, we’re hoping for $100,000.”
The NHS adopted out 9,184 animals in 2009. Each homeless pet that comes in is spayed or neutered, vaccinated and fed, but the costs it takes to operate the shelter does not include surgeries or other medical care if needed.
Blankenburg said the NHS will also be taking over Reno’s duck races that were held at Wingfield Springs Park in the past. It will be another opportunity to help the NHS replenish its funds and continue its work.
Participants who donated $100 received a T-shirt; $250 donations received a tote bag and an iPod; and donations of $600 garnered participants a choice of a digital photo frame or DVD player.
Rachel Cowell, Yolanda Cowell and Megan Mecca spent their Saturday morning among dozens of other pet owners circling around the Sparks Marina to support the NHS. Keeping them company were 11-year-old pug Jewel and 2-year-old Bassett hound Chloe.
“This is our first time,” Rachel said. “We’d never heard of it before, but we’ve done our own (community service) with a food drive. We’re part of the Pythian Sisters of Nevada.”
The three local Pythian sisters, an organization that promotes purity, love, equality and fidelity, said they enjoy helping the community however they can. They fit in among other dog owners and even those who brought in different types of animals, such as ferrets who were pushed in a cage for the walk.
Sparks Mayor Geno Martini showed his support for the event, as well. Martini doesn’t have dogs to take for a walk — he said he prefers birds — but said the marina offers a great place to hold the Walk for Animals. “We got lucky with the weather today,” he said. “It’s also good to bring attention to the problem we have with stray animals.”