‘Not anything that I’ve ever experienced before’: Clark County Animal Shelter at total capacity

Published 12:23 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

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Clark County Animal Shelter is dedicated to serving furry friends of the community.

However, it has, as of late, encountered quite a challenge.

The shelter at 5000 Ironworks Road, just past the Clark County Fairgrounds, faces total capacity with little to no room remaining.

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“It’s been an ongoing issue. We’ve been really full for months, maybe even close to a year now, but it seems like we’ve at least been able to maintain. We’ve had enough dogs leaving that we’ve been able to accept the new ones coming in,” said Addie Wills, Director of Clark County Animal Shelter. “In the last two to four weeks, we’ve been really just overwhelmed with surrenders…We’ve moved a couple [of] dogs in that time frame, but very, very few.”

In the name of being rescue-friendly, the Clark County Animal Shelter sometimes takes certain practices such as sending dogs to PetSmart or other facilities where they can be more visible to the community and find foster homes.

However, with other organizations being at or near total capacity as well, problems have arisen.

“They say they’re losing foster homes, and their adoptions are down,” Wills added. “I think this is not a localized issue, it’s something that we’re seeing on a state and even a national level. It’s just kind of caught up to us at this point.”

Frequently, the animals that remain at the shelter – many of them large dogs – are approximately one to three years old.

Unfortunately, this tends to be one of the most challenging ages to convince others to adopt, as younger and older dogs are more popular among many suitors.

“They either want the puppies [to] watch them grow up and train them in how they want them to be, or they want older dogs that are past that puppy stage,” Wills said. “That middle ground seems to be the hardest age to adopt out, and smaller dogs are always quicker to move [as far as] to get adopted.”

Problematically, Wills acknowledges that some dogs of this age group get surrendered with the need to be further trained or socialized.

For such reasons, it’s encouraged that new dog owners are aware of the tasks at hand when first adopting a pet.

“If you do adopt, make sure that you’re in it for that and can stick it out with them,” she said. “It seems like what we’re seeing is a lot of people that [might] have got puppies sometime during the pandemic now those dogs are untrained or undersocialized, and so we’re having to really backtrack and [are] trying to help work through that.”

Many potential adoptees are more willing to take on dogs with proper training and socialization.

Other challenges are in play as well.

According to Wills, moving to different locations along with financial burdens – many that have become more prevalent in the last year – sometimes play a factor.

“As a community, we are seeing an uptick in the number of people that are struggling financially. We’ve had a lot of people surrender animals due to losing their housing or maybe losing a job,” Wills said. “I think that many people in our community are struggling otherwise, and so, unfortunately, that means that they’re not in a situation to keep their animals.”

To help ease the burden on both the organization and others, Clark County Animal Shelter has taken specific steps.

A rescue partner currently unable to take dogs into their care has contributed financially by sponsoring the adoption fee for dogs.

As a result, the adoption fee is currently only $25.

Though assistance is available, Wills reiterates that the situation is unlike prior occasions.

“As a whole, this is probably the worst situation we’ve seen for the most extended time that we’ve seen,” Wills said. “We’ve certainly had situations where we’ve taken in large influxes of animals but to be at the capacity that we have maintained for as long as we have, this is not anything that I’ve ever experienced before.”

Yet, although being short-staffed leads Clark County Animal Shelter to ask others to complete the application online and schedule an appointment, she adds that the staff is nevertheless dedicated.

“I even came in and met somebody on Sunday that wanted to adopt, and we were able to get a dog into a home,” Wills said. “We’re willing to make that extra effort…we just really want to see these dogs go into homes as quickly as possible…That’s our goal. That’s why we get up and go to work every day.”

The Clark County Animal Shelter’s website is https://clarkshelter.org/, and those interested to view available pets can do so at https://clarkshelter.org/adopt/. To learn more about a particular animal, click on the name of each to receive a description.

A link to an adoption questionnaire and form is found in the first paragraph describing each.