Dog euthanasias at Animal Foundation nearly doubled in 2022
The embattled Animal Foundation shelter, which is partially funded by taxpayers, euthanized nearly twice as many dogs in 2022 than it did the previous year.
Updated March 7, 2023 - 9:45 am
The embattled Animal Foundation shelter, which is partially funded by taxpayers, euthanized nearly twice as many dogs in 2022 as it did the previous year.
The 2,261 dogs put down last year reflect about a 91 percent increase in euthanasias, according to shelter-provided figures. A total of 933 dogs were euthanized because their owners requested it.
The 14,122 dogs the shelter took in last year also were about a 30 percent hike compared with 2021.
Financial and operational audits from Clark County requested by Commissioner Michael Naft got underway recently, according to a county spokesperson.
“Clark County is concerned about every aspect of the issues we are hearing about The Animal Foundation, and we have moved forward with an internal audit of The Animal Foundation to determine if the contract requirements in place are being met,” according to a statement. “Additionally, Clark County continues to aggressively pursue options which may serve as part of the solution to the urgent animal welfare concerns in our region which have continued to grow since the pandemic.”
The commission recently voted to ban the sale of dogs, cats, rabbits and potbellied pigs at pet stores, in an effort to combat black market sales and help relieve packed animal shelters. The ordinance had a one-year grace period.
The audits are on top of a financial, third-party review the Las Vegas City Council voted to approve in October. The financial audits are permitted under the contracts with Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, which hover just below $5 million a year.
That’s about one-third of the foundation’s overall budget.
Adoption, transfer increases
“While we did see an increase in Humane Euthanasia, we also saw increases in adoption and transfer outcomes,” an Animal Foundation spokesperson wrote in an email.
The 5,788 dogs adopted out of the shelter in 2022 were about a 45 percent increase. The 2,045 dogs transferred represented a 31 percent spike.
The foundation noted 25,000 animals in total were taken in last year, including 8,324 cats. However, the 1,432 cats that were put down were also about a 61 percent increase.
“As an organizational policy, only animals not considered to be healthy and/or treatable are candidates for humane euthanasia,” the foundation said. “Euthanasia rates vary depending on the population of animals we serve in a given month or year.”
Animal advocates contend that the shelter at 655 N. Mojave Road mistreats animals, is overcrowded and was mismanaged.
Las Vegas Councilwoman Victoria Seaman conducted a surprise “inspection” at the shelter’s intake area in September, and documented what she described as “disgusting” conditions. Soon after, eight staffers from the intake team suddenly resigned, writing in a letter that they felt overworked and belittled.
Animal Foundation CEO Hilarie Grey said animal intakes were up nearly 50 percent in September compared with the previous two years.
She said it was part of a “historic trend” seen nationwide, exacerbated by the pandemic and economic woes. Hiring and fundraising had become more difficult, all while more animals were being taken in, Grey added.
The city of Las Vegas in January discussed what it would take to build and operate its own animal shelter: the figure floated was $35 million to construct and about $6 million annually to operate, Las Vegas City Manager Jorge Cervantes told the council.
Seaman said the city needs more oversight.
“I am deeply concerned with the increase in the euthanasia rate at The Animal Foundation and have discussed the issue with the city management team,” she said in a statement on Monday. “Unfortunately, as with most problems at The Animal Foundation, we at the city need more control and accountability on that issue. … But I believe, ultimately, the only way we can truly address the continuing problem with The Animal Foundation is for the city to operate its shelter.”
Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at email@example.com. Follow @rickytwrites on Twitter.