Animal cruelty cases jump across northern Nevada amid pandemic

WCRAS said there’s been an increase in cruelty calls.
Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 9:46 AM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The Nevada Humane Society (NHS) and Washoe County Regional Animal Services (WCRAS) said there’s been an increase in animal abuse cases amid the pandemic. The shelter said there’s a connection between the rise in cases and people spending more time at home.

WCRAS Field Supervisor Robert Wooster said, “I think there is a direct correlation, between the pandemic and stress, people being at home and not being able to go out and they take it out on the animals.”

He added, “We are dealing with neglect cases, lack of nutrition, lack of grocery for animals, lots of thin animals, animals being in a kennel for an extended period of time, without proper food, water, exercise.” Wooster continued, “Also the cruelty aspect of it, we are getting a lot of people that are beating animals these days and they are being more aggressive than we have seen towards the animals.”

According to WCRAS in 2020, 29% of welfare complaints led to fines, but in 2017 it was only 7%. Wooster said, “The percentage of cases that we are seeing, that are founded welfare complaints and are leading to a citation or civil penalty is the highest it’s ever been.”

WCRAS educates pet owners about animal abuse. Wooster said, “We start at the lowest level, we want to educate first, if it’s something that we can handle through education, we are going to do that.” He said depending on the type and severity of abuse pet owners can also face fines, misdemeanor, and/or felony charges.

Currently, WCRAS has 20 cruelty cases that are in the process of being adjudicated and of those cases 9 are felonies. Wooster said in the previous six years there was a total of 4 felony cases.

NHS Carson City Shelter Manager, Clay Johnson said last month it rescued 70 cats from hoarding situations. “The biggest thing that we have been noticing, is an increase in hoarding cases, it’s just not within Reno and Carson, but it’s all over northern Nevada.”

NHS CEO Greg Hall said the abused pets need extra care and attention at the shelter. The community can help by adopting, volunteer, and donating. “It’s a pretty big impact on our veterinary staff, they end up having to do a lot of dental work, often times they have ear mites or medical concerns that they need to take care of before adoption.”

Hall added, “We love to talk about the positive things here at the shelter, but we have to address reality and sometimes there are not so good stories, but at the end of the day most of the cases do end up with a good story and that is the ultimate outcome of these animals.”

If you feel overwhelmed and need help with your pet you can call WCRAS at (775) 353-8900.

If you want to report an animal abuse case in Washoe County call (775) 322-3647. If you are in Carson City call (775) 887-2171.

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