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Local facilities pick up the pieces left from unwanted pets

It’s a beautiful sunny day, close to Christmas or someone’s birthday and on the sidewalk at the grocery store someone is giving away puppies or kittens. No shots, not neutered or spayed, but they’re tempting and beautiful. By the end of the day they are in a home and likely with people who have neither prepared for nor understand the responsibility involved in having a pet.

If the animal is lucky, it will be fed, be inoculated against viruses, have water, exercise and someone to love and play with it. Maybe.

But those cute little puppies and kittens grow up, need more food and attention and costly spaying or neutering. The uneducated pet owner becomes disenchanted and sometimes tosses the now unwanted pet into the back yard, tethered and forgotten, or turned loose to roam the streets. It could get lucky and be dropped at one of the local shelters with a new chance at a good family and a better life. Although chances are good for rehoming unwanted pets through the shelters here, funding them is a constant battle.

All the shelter center managers speak of the fight for financial support and trying to keep up with the cost of feed and shelter maintenance. West Star Ranch Old Dog Rescue, on Manse Road, Tails of Nye County, a discount spay/neuter program and Symphony Animal Foundation are constantly appealing for donations, holding fundraisers and generally seeking support.

SAF Founder Laraine Harper supplements her volunteer homing of unwanted animals with Sniffany’s Thrift Store. The proceeds help with the feeding and care for all types of animals.

SAF was formed in 2007, and Harper’s ongoing center is making progress on 10 acres of land at 2501 Wheeler Pass Road. Five of those acres are undergoing “dirt work,” according to Harper, and three buildings rest on temporary foundations waiting completion of the roads so fencing and final work on the buildings can begin. The new shelter is expected to open by year end.

The new “critter capacity” will be 15-20 dogs, 10-15 cats, no more than three horses at a time, and all will be heated, and cooled with climate control operations. An administration area for the adoption center is about 80 percent complete as is a small retail store area. Harper said, “We plan to keep our foster care program going as well. Right now, all animals from the first center are in foster care homes awaiting the opening of the new center. Check the new website: www.symphonyanimalfoundation.org.

Harper notes, “But we’re all in it for the animals. We have the cutest customers in town. Symphony was named after Harper’s dogs Beethoven and Mozart, and since then, the center has housed many kinds of animals including but not limited to chickens, rabbits, turkeys and a boa constrictor named Mr. Snuggles. “Believe it or not,” said Harper, “he was gone in 60 minutes after we put the word out.”

Symphony’s next fundraiser is a progressive dinner in November, something that has been successful in the past. That and other information is available on their website www.symphonyanimalfoundation.org. Symphony is a “no kill,” animal shelter.

The oldest known shelter in the area is West Star Ranch. It is on a little over three acres at 780 Manse Road. “It all started with a yard sale,” said owner Terry Dougherty. His mother, Elsie, started the shelter in 1995 when people began casting their pets over the fence and leaving them; a common theme with all the shelters.

When feeding and caring for the animals outpaced the family budget, a yard sale was the next idea, and from that point, hundreds of stray animals have come to find a home at the Dougherty property, now home to 38 dogs and 37 cats, and a growing family of peacocks.

Dougherty said, “Usually, that’s the extent of the animal types, but we have one mule, and have had various other species from time to time. But we only adopt out the cats and dogs.”

Dougherty and members of his organization go on “road shows” to do fundraising, Car Studio, a detail shop located in the Nugget parking lot, donates to the shelter and the rest of the required funds come from West Star Thrift Store located on the shelter property.

Area businesses such as Secret Sisters consignment shop on Postal Road donate clothing and merchandise. “These are really nice things thanks to them,” said Dougherty.

In addition, Dougherty builds custom bicycles. He owned a car wash in Pahrump at one time. “All that we make on the road shows and from the store, all 100 percent, goes to the animals,” he said. He has made arrangements to ensure that upon his death, the shelter will continue and the animals cared for.

Dougherty laments the hardest thing about adopting any of the critters is missing them. “Here, they live fresh and clean and happy lives.” West Star, like Symphony is a “no-kill” shelter. Their website is www.weststarranch.org. They are open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday.

Tails of Nye County Inc. is a new organization in Pahrump with the intention of having all pets spayed and neutered and works to that end as a 501(c)(3) charity. By making coupons and vouchers available to reduce the participating clinic’s regular fees, “most people can do the right thing for their pets, according the Tails of Nye County President Jackie Casano. She said “I am doing this to make spaying and neutering affordable for everyone to help them become a responsible pet owner.”

A fundraiser for the organizaion will be a yard sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5 with “too much stuff to list.” at 3530 W. Mesquite Ave. In addition to the sale, Casano plans to raffle off a free spay or neuter. The drawing will be Oct. 4. The first of its kind in the Pahrump Valley, shelters, pet owners and veterinarians alike are finding that Tails of Nye County is a welcome idea in the area, according to Casano.

The county shelter is supported by county funds, but keeping employees and trained volunteers is an ongoing effort. The cost of spaying and neutering is high, increasing and is a major factor in keeping more animals breeding and suffering needlessly.

The Nye County Animal Shelter is one of the busiest in both incoming animals and numbers adopted out. So much so that it is also a euthanasia center for animals that are ill, have not been placed after many weeks, or that are of dangerous behavior.

The shelter personnel deny myths and stories that pit bulls are killed immediately, or euthanasia is ministered within days of an animal being in residence at the shelter.

Fees for adoption are $85 for a dog or puppy (or $40 if already spayed/neutered with up to date shots). For cats or kittens, fees are $55 unless they are already spayed/neutered with up to date shots, and then the fee drops to $30. Horses, pigs, ferrets, turtles, and all other animals are in the $20 or less range.

The fees are similar for all the shelters but with the support of Tails for Nye County, a discount on adoption, spaying and neutering and shots can reduce those prices significantly.

Public materials on the county shelter say: “If you can’t afford the fees, you can’t afford to keep the animal. Free animals are not free.” On hand at the moment are between 10-17 dogs of all breeds and ages, and the same number of cats and kittens. The Nye County Animal Shelter website is www.nyecountyanimalshelter.org. They are daily listing animals on a national and state-wide site and are finding some success in finding homes for adoptees on an ongoing basis.

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