Reno shelters full, animal agencies facing ‘unacceptable’ choices

The Reno Animal Control shelter is at capacity and that could force tough choices, including euthanasia for some dogs.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:20 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -Walk through the kennels at Washoe County Animal Services. In each stall, a dog barks for attention. This is the next to the last stop for a homeless pet.

These dogs landed here through no fault of their own. If they could talk, they’d describe previous lives. Someone they’re waiting for. Owners who lost or abandoned them. In normal times they’d wait here to be reunited and if, after a time, that didn’t happen, they’d move next door to the Nevada Humane Society to wait for adoption to a new forever home.

These aren’t normal times. There’s no room here nor there. No place for the next homeless pooch. If something doesn’t ease people here might face something no one in this town has considered for 15 years. Some may have to be euthanized simply because there’s no space.

“That is a heartbreaking choice, for the staff, for anyone involved with animals,” says Reno Councilwoman Naomi Duerr, who chairs the Advisory Committee for Animal Services. “It doesn’t matter if you work there or don’t, the concept of losing an animal because you just don’t have space is unacceptable.”

What’s caused this crisis? We can blame it on the pandemic, people who adopted out of loneliness then and now feel differently and less committed. Blame it on the housing crisis, the economy, changing lifestyles. They probably all played a part but knowing the reasons doesn’t get us closer to solutions. That doesn’t mean, however, that the rest of us can’t help.

“Adopt if you can,” advises Duerr who can tell you a happy story about adopting a homeless dog. “Foster if it’s possible. If you’ve lost an animal go find it. It may be at the Humane Society ( or Animal Services) waiting for you to show up. Take it home.” Volunteer. If you can’t do anything else donate. It may help them buy these services.”