When Kit Wilkinson gets home from teaching at UNLV, his pets greet him at the door.
“Mr. Pippin is a Jack Russell terrier, and because he’s a terrier and he’s been inside all day, he’s a little nuts,” Wilkinson said. “The cat’s more subtle. He sort of strolls up to the door to say hello.”
Wilkinson has had his dog for several years, but the cat, Mr. Sylva, is a new addition to the household that he picked up not long after moving to Las Vegas in August. Most people would assume the two animals would have a strained relationship at best, but they get along famously.
“Mr. Sylva handles the dog being crazy for a few minutes pretty well,” Wilkinson said. “The cat is purring wherever he goes. He’s just a happy cat.”
Wilkinson had several roommates while he was getting his master’s degree at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Ariz., and they had their own pets: two cats and a dog. When he moved here, his dog seemed lonely, especially when he was out during the day, so he began looking for a cat.
“I wanted to get a big one, and I did find this guy. He’s a 16-pound tabby,” Wilkinson said. “He’s the best cat I’ve ever seen. He’s self-sufficient, clean, extraordinarily nice to everybody, including dogs.”
Fellow UNLV instructor and cat activist Rebecca Zisch guided him through the process of adopting a shelter cat.
“There are so many great pets out there in need of a home,” Zisch said. “Kit and his cat are a great example of the kind of connection you can make with a shelter pet.”
In some cases, the dog you get as a shelter pet may be a former jailbird.
“Our Pups On Parole program brings dogs in to live at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center,” said Kellie Lambert, the dog coordinator at Heaven Can Wait Animal Society, a local nonprofit. “The inmates teach the dogs obedience training, house training and train them how to be alone for eight hours to simulate a workday.”
The correctional center at 4370 Smiley Road has 26 pods, separate units where inmates are housed. One pod is involved in the Pups On Parole program.
“The inmates are hand-selected to be in the program,” Lambert said. “They let us know when they think the dogs are ready for adoption. Once a week, we go in and bring out the dogs who are ready and take them to our Saturday adoption event.”
The weekly event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bogart’s Bone Appetit, 4985 S. Fort Apache Road.
Last year, Heaven Can Wait Animal Society’s spay and neuter clinic at 456 N. Eastern Ave. performed more than 200 procedures a week, a number that includes both pets and strays. That number has increased almost every year, and organizers like to link that number to another statistic: The number of cat and dog euthanizations has decreased for the past five years.
“We can’t put a pet out for adoption to its forever home unless it has been spayed or neutered,” said Meghan Scheibe, marketing manager for The Animal Foundation at the Lied Animal Shelter, 655 N. Mojave Road.
Scheibe said that people who adopt pets frequently return to the shelter to let staff members know how well the animal is doing. The shelter also hosts special events where pet owners can meet and share their adoption success stories. The most recent took place on Nov. 3 at Sunset Park, 2601 E. Sunset Road, where pet lovers met for the Forever Home Family Picnic and the4K-9 Run.”
Scheibe is also a customer at the shelter.
“I adopted my dog from Lied,” Scheibe said. “He was a special-needs dog. His name is Champ. He’s what I call a shelter mutt. He’s a border collieAustralian shepherd/Brittany spaniel hybrid.”
Champ came into the shelter as a puppy. He had an allergic reaction to a vaccine that resulted in his being transferred into foster care, but by that time, Scheibe was hooked.
“I ended up falling in love with him and taking him home,” she said. “I’ve had him for two years now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. He’s just a great dog.”
Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at 702-380-4532 or firstname.lastname@example.org.