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Pets at the Courtyard homeless center get new digs

Updated May 21, 2021 - 3:35 pm

As the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center continues to expand, so do the accommodations for the pets who live there. And on Friday, they got new digs.

A pup named Short Legs got a blue teddy bear, a Chihuahua mix named Boots snuggled up in a fresh bed and an orange cat named Tigger sashayed in his new kennel.

All of the donations came from Urban Underdogs, a Las Vegas-based nonprofit that helps homeless dogs and cats. The organization updated the pet shelter Friday for the first time since the city of Las Vegas’ open-air Courtyard on Foremaster Lane officially opened in 2018.

“Our goal is for the animals to be taken care of in the best way they can be under these circumstances,” said Urban Underdogs founder Cynthia Miyamoto.

Urban Underdogs visits the courtyard weekly to provide food and other care for the pets, whose owners are required to take care of their animals. But sometimes the pets are left unattended for long periods of time, which had led to issues with the pet area.

Some kennels were soiled and equipment was damaged by rodents and bugs, which sparked concerns of health issues. The newly donated equipment is easier to clean and sanitize. A new list with tips for caring for pets is also posted on the fence nearby.

“We hope to give them a more comfortable summer,” said Seana Duncan, operations manager for Urban Underdogs.

The unexpectedly cool weather was welcoming for Colleen Rosalini, who was taking her boxer mix Petey for a walk. The 5-year-old dog wagged her tail as other dogs barked for attention. Rosalini has been at the Courtyard, which sleeps up to 300 people a night, since February.

“She’s a healthy dog; I love her,” Rosalini said. “Our caseworker is going to get us a home soon.”

For now, Petey will get a new dog bed. Kennels will now be assigned to dogs, with whiteboard name tags for owners to write their names on. The shaded area on the west side of the Courtyard is where the dogs will live, and a new shelf was added to increase capacity.

There were 17 dogs and eight cats at the shelter as of Friday. There are fans to keep them cool in the summer and heaters during the winter.

“They’ve got new digs,” one worker said as he helped carry in a 40-inch crate. “Even the cats are going to be like, ‘I’ve got a new condo.’”

For some of the residents at the Courtyard, their pets are their only family. The Courtyard, which provides services for the homeless, is still under construction and is expected to be finished next year.

“Homeless people face so many barriers, and they shouldn’t have to choose between their beloved pet and getting resources,” said Jocelyn Bluitt-Fisher, the city’s community services administrator. “This makes a world of a difference.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @ByBrianaE on Twitter.

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