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Accusations, rumors plague Tails End shelter departure

Nye County Emergency Services Director Vance Payne was not pleased with the conditions of the local animal shelter following the Tails End exodus on Tuesday. Payne described the conditions as unfortunate after inspecting the facility.

Last week, Payne said he thought there was a good transition plan in place for the changeover, but noted that was not the case.

“I knew there was going to be some problems but certainly they’d be workable,” he said. “I spoke to Susan Cronin on Monday and told her it was going to go very badly if we don’t make some stuff happen.”

According to a county official, 150 man hours were needed to clean the facility after the operator’s departure.

Payne said the straw that broke the camel’s back occurred while he was attending a meeting in Las Vegas last week.

During that time, Tails End employees and volunteers were packing up their equipment.

“When I was in Las Vegas, I got a text from one of the animal control officers saying that there’s was not a bit of food left on this property and the remaining animals haven’t been fed,” he said. “I wasn’t asking to leave the place fully stocked, but for the love of God, leave enough animal food so that we can feed the animals for a day.”

Payne said he’s also tired of his staff becoming the target of those who do not fully understand the situation.

“I’m not going to take one bit more of abuse to our animal control officers or the commissioners or myself and anybody else in this office,” he said. “People are accusing us of causing all this stuff to happen. I just wanted to clear the air. I hope I’m not coming off as negative, but I am angry.”

Payne said since Tails End took over the contract to operate the shelter, they have not been in compliance with local statutes pertaining to proper animal care.

“This just recently came up and we had heard rumors, but that was all we had,” he said. “Apparently there were adoptions done and fees collected without the animals being properly vaccinated. The law requires mandatory rabies and the spaying and neutering was part of the contract that they issued. I’d like to think that would make this good, but we’re being told that’s probably not true.”

Payne said veterinarian care was not consistent at the animal shelter since Tails End took over the contract from the county.

He also said the various drugs used by veterinarians at the facility never got approval by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

“They have been through several veterinarians and there’s never been a consistent care program set up,” he said. “They were never able to secure a DEA license which is a requirement of the contract. I’m not sure how that could happen because we never had a problem. The license is quite easy to obtain.”

Payne leveled additional charges that Tails End dog licensing operations were inadequate, as everything relating to animals in the county should be entered into a database.

Payne said that was not the case all of the time.

“One of the animal control officers took a report on a dog bite and the offending animal was a pit bull that had a Nye County dog license,” he said. “When the license was run through the database, the license came back as being issued to four different dogs. One of those dogs happens to belong to me.”

Payne said he and his staff will be forced to go through all of the database’s records to try and remedy the problem.

“We have our work cut out for us because we will go through every record in the last 15 months to try and figure it all out,” he said. “I don’t know where that’s going to take us, but it doesn’t look real shiny right now. It’s pretty unfortunate.”

Tails End Director Susan Cronin disputed the county’s version about the condition of the facility and its operations after she and her employees moved out last week.

“I was shocked and mad because it was just totally uncalled for,” she said. “They are still using our equipment and we even left behind the vaccines that we bought, but they said they didn’t need them,” she said.

Cronin also put the blame on the county, which she said was not in compliance when Tails End took control last year.

“They were never in compliance themselves,” she said. “They violated the contract way before we took over and that’s all going to come out in the wash when our board meets and they will be speaking with the county.”

On the issue of euthanasia, Cronin said the facility had two licensed veterinarians performing the grim task.

“The vets were authorized to do euthanasias, but we just didn’t kill animals every three days,” she said.

Cronin also said she is looking to open an animal facility on her own, provided she secures adequate funding for the endeavor.

“We did find a building and it’s $145,000 which is really, really good with the right zoning and the right buildings,” she said. “We could open the surgery and animal education department right away. We actually have a real office with our own phones and computers.”

Before anything can happen, Cronin said, she needs to acquire the money somehow.

“They can go to our website and click on ‘donate’ at tailsend.org,” she said. “Many people have been contacting us through the web page and we are answering them.”

Earlier this year, the Board of County Commissioners authorized a contract extension to Tails End on a month-to-month basis at $18,000.

The original annual contract was $225,000.

Cronin noted that Tails End board of directors decided to give a 30-day notice in May.

She said employees and volunteers could not continue to successfully operate a shelter that is constantly overcrowded.

Shortly after the announcement, County Manager Pam Webster released a statement which read in part, “This notice from them was not unexpected.”

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