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Checking website of Animal Foundation can save lost pets’ lives

Butters was one special cat. When his owner, Jeannine Comeau, would roll on her stomach, Butters would jump up and give her a 15-minute back massage. Ever heard of a cat doing that?

On July 1, Butters was checking out his neighborhood near Alta Drive and Rainbow Boulevard and a neighbor called the city’s Animal Control to pick him up.

He was taken to the Animal Foundation’s Lied Shelter, which has a policy of keeping an animal for 72 hours and then putting it up for adoption after being assessed for health and behavior issues.

Unfortunately, after his evaluation, the 12-year-old Butters was considered unadoptable because he wasn’t using the litter box and had multiple dental issues, said Andy Bischel, the foundation’s director of development.

"These issues negatively affect his adoption status because he is being evaluated against otherwise healthy, house-trained cats for limited adoption space," Bischel said. "This time of year, space is at a premium. We’re taking in 200 animals a day."

Butters was put down after seven days.

Here’s the heartbreaker. Butters had a microchip; but for whatever reason, the information from the Idaho Humane Society didn’t reach the Las Vegas shelter until after he’d been put down.

By the time Comeau was contacted by the shelter, Butters was dead.

Comeau made one fatal mistake. She didn’t check the Animal Foundation’s website, where she could have seen a photo of Butters as a lost animal.

"That’s a mistake on my part that I’ll have to live with," she said, choking up, realizing she could have rescued him.

While nothing brings Butters back, Bischel offered some practical advice that might help someone else find a lost pet.

First, check the website, where pictures of lost animals are updated every 20 minutes.

But don’t rely entirely on the website; come to the shelter at 655 N. Mojave Road, since 12 stressed-out black cats may look similar.

Finally, make sure the microchip has your current information.

For faster response, Bischel advised the next time you take your pet to the vet, have the vet check the microchip and make sure the information is updated with your current information, which the vet can help you do. That way, the shelter can contact you directly and not have to go through another organization.

Maybe, just maybe, Butters’ death will help some other beloved pet live.

KUDOS DESERVED: On a more upbeat animal story, kudos must go to Janie Greenspun Gale for persuading Steve Wynn to donate $5 million to the Animal Foundation in December.

Bischel said Gale had been lobbying Wynn about making a donation for some time.

"Janie and Chris (Robinson, the executive director) went to see him in his villa at the Wynn Resort. Chris knew things were going good when she saw his large German shepherds sprawled on a costly couch. They sat down and he was very casual, and he pushed a personal check across the table and said: Do with that what you need to do."

Since then, the Wynns have toured the facility and his wife, Andrea, joined the board.

But Gale was the one who did the heavy lifting, persuading the casino owner that of all the worthy causes he could support, the Animal Foundation was deserving. Her passion became his passion.

Originally, Wynn sought to keep his donations private, but following the public anger locally after Wynn Resorts Inc. donated $135 million to the University of Macau, Wynn told columnist Norm Clarke in June about his Animal Foundation donation and another $2 million contribution to United Way.

He told Clarke that he gave away $20 million in 2011.

His $5 million to the Animal Foundation is demonstrating better results than Sheldon Adelson’s $21 million in political donations to Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential bid.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at 702-383-0275. She also blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/Morrison.

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