• Susan Houser

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.

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