Demand Shelter Reform & Transparency at Nevada SPCA. Fight for a proper no kill shelter.

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Open Letter to the NSPCA Board and Local Agencies Urging Shelter Reform, Collaboration & Transparency

To Whom It May Concern, NSPCA Board President Kathy Jung and Fellow NSPCA Board Members, Clark County Commissioners and Local Government Agencies, & Southern Nevada Residents,

RE: NSPCA: NV19811013389, C7609-1981, EIN: 88-0187383

Summary: CCCAWA has good reason to believe that the current management of the NSPCA is failing to carry out the mission of the organization, failing to comply as a true no-kill animal rescue and failing to comply with key NRS requirements as well as Clark County Municipal Codes pertaining to animal welfare.

That said, we of CCCAWA are asking for the removal of NSPCA management and shelter redesign with health, wellness and transparency as your guides.

We are also asking the general public to show their support for proper shelter reform of the NSPCA in order to restore Southern Nevada’s only ‘no kill’ shelter to the proper sanctuary it was intended to be for homeless animals in our community.

We urge local Southern Nevada residents to show your support by signing the petition today.

Detailed Information:

Over the course of several years and a compilation of hands-on experiences in and around the Nevada Society for the Prevention and Cruelty of Animals (NSPCA) several things have become apparent to this group and we deem worthy of this open letter. First and foremost, thank you for the work your organization strives to achieve and for the mission you have in place:

“The Nevada SPCA, a nonprofit organization, operates a no-kill animal sanctuary, promotes humane education, makes referrals for lower-cost spay/neuter and vaccination services and challenges people to be the best possible guardians for the companion animals in their care.

We work to achieve our adoption goals by treating each animal as an individual, with a name instead of a number.  We strive to match each rescued animal with people by personality and lifestyle in order to have the best chance to find a forever home. We seek homes for the animals where they will be treated, cherished, and appreciated as members of the family.”1

We realize that unlike the open-intake, government-subsidized shelter(s) in Southern Nevada; the NSPCA is operating under the ‘no-kill model’, which is both widely commended and supported throughout the community. We also recognize that your organization rescues some of the most difficult to adopt, often unwanted and medically in-need animals. As stated on your website:

“Besides those awaiting adoption, we have animals in the process of rehabilitation so that they too can be available for adoption in the future, and we exhaust all reasonable measures to help them become adoptable.  At the time of rescue many animals have broken bones and other injuries, disease, emaciated bodies from starvation or neglect, birth defects, tumors and other growths, and more.  Even more are bouncing back from cruelty and abuse, learning to trust people again.”2

As Southern Nevada’s only no-kill shelter, the general public and community donor naturally assumes you operate under the true ‘No-Kill Model.’ The No- Kill resolution states:

”Whereas, societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals and other humane organizations were founded to establish standards for humane treatment of animals, to promote their rights, and to protect them from harm;”3

Among other rights, the No Kill Statement of Rights and Guiding Principles4 state that:

Taxpayers and community members have a right to full and complete disclosure about how animal shelters operate.

 Shelters provide care and treatment for all animals in shelters to the extent necessary, including prompt veterinary care, adequate nutrition, shelter, exercise, and socialization;

 Shelters are held accountable for and make information publicly available about all the animals in their care.

Having said all of that, the CCCAWA has good reason to believe that the current management of the NSPCA is failing to carry out the mission of the organization, failing to comply as a true no-kill animal rescue and failing to comply with key NRS requirements5 as well as Clark County Municipal Codes6 pertaining to animal welfare. Key areas of concern include:

1. Inadequate staffing: Key staff member(s) have left or been dismissed without replacement both in front and back-of- house. Kennel attendants are often tasked with front-of- house duties and pulled in so many directions that kennel duties and cleanliness suffers. There are no staff members whose job duties include socialization, walks or proper exercise.
References: NRS 574.360, NRS 574.4730, MC 10.30.010, MC 10.30.080

2. Unclean living conditions and improperly maintained enclosures: Building and grounds are not well kept, kennel doors are broken, elements are exposed, sewage is backing up, water is leaking from the roof, bugs and pigeons are present and the smell is often overpowering. Water bowls go unwashed and are refilled to the point of algae, fecal matter and urine is not cleared away and properly sanitized each day and left into the next etc, bugs fill treat containers and water dishes including cockroaches and black widows, animals are often covered in fecal matter and urine when brought up for adoption, training or walks with volunteers.
References: NRS 574.360, MC 10.30.010, NRS 574.430, MC 10.30.080, NRS574.420, MC10.30.070, NRS547.370, MC 10.30.020

3. Inadequate housing and shelter for the number of animals: There are often times 4-5 small dogs in a kennel and sometimes up to 3 large dogs. Fights often break out and can go on unattended causing both mental and emotional damage to the animals. Cases involving food hoarding and resource guarding which many rescue animals exhibit, can lead to a dog being without food, water, or access to the indoor area of the kennel until it can be noted by a staff member.
References: NRS 574.410, MC 10.30.060

4. Inadequate medical care: There seems to be only one member on staff dedicated to medical care and she has questionable training or qualifications in veterinary care. This is gravely inadequate for the number of animals present. Injuries and illness often go unnoticed and unattended unless severe and extremely visible. Outside trainers note injuries unattended-to and volunteers witness reports of illness gone unanswered or improperly addressed. Dogs have been noted with severe ear infections, growths, neurological problems, broken bones, parasites and more; without constant reminders and volunteer pleading treatment does not take place and noted requests for treatment often go unanswered by staff or dismissed as minor. This environment is unfit for older animals or animals with any ongoing medical issues. This group has been privy to several older dogs dying in the shelter with little to no preventative care or end of life care given until it was apparent the animal was already beyond aide. Other times dogs have gone unaltered without notice until attention is drawn to it due to apparent physical symptoms such as going into heat/vaginal bleeding. There is no way one staff member could adequately address all of these issues or even be aware of them.
References: NRS 574.440(2), MC 10.30.090(b)

5. Inadequate socialization or interaction program in place for dogs. No program in place to ensure dogs are receiving socialization, working with trainers to improve behavior issues or getting proper mental or physical stimulation. Currently all exercise and enrichment is done through 100% volunteer contributions. When volunteers are out of town or are restricted access, animals suffer and do not leave their kennels for days on end.
NSPCA: NV19811013389, C7609-1981, EIN: 88-0187383

6. No transparency regarding dogs unavailable for adoption: Dogs “in the back” or “unavailable for adoption” as the website refers get no socialization what-so- ever. There is no program in place to get them ready for adoption, mark their progress or evaluation as to when they can move to “the front”. Volunteers are denied access and the dogs are not listed on the website.Rows upon rows of kennels exist “in the back” with absolutely no accountability to the public,the donor, or even to the board of directors regarding the animals’ well-being, socialization,progress or health status. Dogs could die and go completely unnoticed as they are essentially hidden and unaccounted for publicly.

7. Unclear guidelines and changing expectations for volunteers; informal hierarchy of leaders and a culture of silencing through bullying. There is no volunteer coordinator on staff. There are no clear rules or guidelines. Times often change, procedures change, rules and expectations change. Volunteers are asked to not speak with trainers or outside entities regarding the shelter or concern for the animals. People are asked to leave and shunned if concern is voiced or ideas offered which are unwelcome or deemed “accusatory”.

8. Consistent medical neglect as well as a culture of silencing and emotional blackmail by staff done through removing access to animals in a retaliatory fashion. It has been observed that key volunteers and financial supporters suggest additional medical examination and/or request an animal be made available for foster or hospice care in order to – keep a closer eye on a medical situation, provide more personalized care, work on a behavioral issue such as kennel stress etc. – and are most often times dismissed and/or denied. Repeated concern for an animals’ well being is frowned upon and is deemed as “negativity”. Any comments made to senior staff that could possibly be construed as negative result in the volunteer being deemed “aggressive” and asked to leave. Often times, expressing concern about an animal will result in the placements of restrictions via a “No Walks; Medical Treatment” sign being placed on the kennel. The “No walk” restriction can/does last for weeks to months at a time with no communication as to what has been observed, if a professional has seen the animal, if the issue has improved or resolved, and/or when the animal will be allowed to leave its kennel for mental and physical stimulation again. Volunteers fear voicing even reasonable concerns for fear of being deemed “aggressive,” being asked to leave, being denied access the animals to ensure their well being, and for fear of retaliatory ‘no walk’ periods as subtle punishments for the whistle blowers themselves. No walk signs are used to defer medical attention, silence concerned volunteers and punish whistle blowers.
References: NRS 574.440(2), MC 10.30.090(b)

9. Unclear guidelines, requirements, procedures and/or policy regarding a foster care program. There is no formal foster program in place; it is clear through social media and other marketing that litters of puppies, kittens or those animals deemed “in need” of medical fosters are

marketed for foster care while other animals with similarly severe medical concerns remain in the shelter for months at a time before action is taken by senior staff. What qualifies an animal for foster care is unclear and that determination is at the complete discretion of management, which dislikes and hinders input by supporters. Management has very little interaction with the animals and therefore likely no real sense of their daily medical welfare especially given the number of animals present. Management has stated that supposed “healthy animals” are not to be marketed for foster homes at anytime despite it’s proven ability to alleviate behavioral issues due to kennel stress as well as over crowding.
References: NRS 574.440, MC 10.30.090

10. Unclear guidelines and procedure regarding social media and promotion of animals; continued silencing and lack of transparency. Volunteers are not provided with a social media policy but are reprimanded by deputized volunteer leaders for promoting animals using wording deemed inappropriate. Descriptions having warranted reprimand include stating length of time an animal has been at the shelter, stating the hours of the shelter, stating medical concerns or other urgencies, using the word “shelter” itself, among others.

11. Unclear guidelines for adoption requirements. Some families are told they are unable to adopt any dog labeled a pitbull or pit mix if they have another one because you can’t have “two fighting breeds” together. Families are often denied due to multiple pets even if they are willing to restrict access or make accommodations. Dogs are deemed inappropriate for children or families often due to initial evaluation and without regard for progress or improved behavior. Other times, dogs are given to individuals who appear transient and whose ability to properly care for the animal is questionable with little to no questions or regard.

12. Unethical lost and stray pet procedures.  Disregard for recommended guidelines of Nevada Administrative Code by accepting animals that have not been held for 72 hours at the government-contracted municipal open-intake shelter.  Lack of acceptable protocols for attempted reunification with an original owner.  History of withholding information from rightful owners after actions have been taken to reclaim their animals, refusal to cooperate; stonewalling and intimidating owners.  Owners have been denied access to their animals due to prohibited public viewing; animals have been adopted out while owners have been attempting to reclaim.  Deceptive tactics such as lying, bullying and hiding dogs ‘in the back’ which have later been uncovered when photos of the animal on-property appeared online or in the media.  Implying, without any specific knowledge or proof, that owners have been “irresponsible.”

Given the issues at hand, we feel that the NSPCA is in dire need of shelter reform, which requires:

 New leadership

 Transparency and accountability

 Adhering to a model of acceptable animal care and employee safety

 Legislation to require shelters to operate humanely

As board members tasked with steering the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as making sure the nonprofit has adequate resources to advance its mission; we feel this plea is best suited for your ears. As you know, one of the most important responsibilities for many boards is to hire and set the compensation of a talented CEO/executive director to run the proper day-to- day management activities of the organization.

That said, we of CCCAWA are asking for the removal of NSPCA management and shelter redesign with health, wellness and transparency as your guides.

We are also asking the general public to show their support for proper shelter reform of the NSPCA in order to restore Southern Nevada’s only ‘no kill’ shelter to the proper sanctuary it was intended to be for homeless animals in our community.

Show your support by signing the petition today.

Lastly, if you or someone you know has related information please email cccawa.s.nevada@gmail.com and/or contact your local animal control department directly. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your thoughtful consideration and action regarding this important matter of animal welfare.

Sincerely,

The Coalition of Concerned Citizens for Animal Welfare Activities (CCCAWA)Southern Nevada
cccawa.s.nevada@gmail.com

Sources:
1&2 Source: http://www.nevadaspca.org/

3 Source: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/

4 Source: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/

5 Source: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/nrs/nrs-574.html

6 Source: https://www.municode.com/library/nv/clark_county/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=TIT10AN_CH10.04DE_10.04.085ANSH

 



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