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Former director defends reputation, staff

Just one day after Nye County Animal Control officials assumed operations from a private contractor and volunteers at the Pahrump animal shelter this summer, county officials said the conditions of the facility were less than favorable and no food was left for the animals

Tails End Director Susan Cronin, who had that contract, strongly disputed the county’s claims.

“We offered (Emergency Management Director) Vance (Payne) the use of the kennels we purchased and some were donated so the animals could spread out and have room,” she said. “We never stole anything and we also left them expensive three-tier cat condos.”

Tails End decided to discontinue providing services at the facility just weeks after county officials opted to offer a month to month contract, rather than continuing an annual contract due to budget restrictions.

“When we took over the contract we were charged and paid over $1,000 for their food bill,” Cronin said. “We were feeding 100 pounds of food a day. On the last day, there were only custody animals left. All adoptable animals were screened and went to rescue.”

Cronin described the mood at the shelter during the final week as fraught with “rattled nerves and raised tempers.”

She said during the last few days, the county’s animal control officials were “stationed” at the shelter watching their every move.

“The day we moved, they came storming over, yelling at our volunteers, while chasing many away in tears,” she said. “We were planning to stay until 11:30 p.m. but were locked out and I was ordered to turn in the keys. It was a 112-degree day, so even our pools were filled with the volunteers giving the animals their last day of outside fun.”

Cronin said the shelter was in less than ideal conditions when she took over the contract last year.

“When we first went in, we had to be volunteers of the county and work for free,” she said. “There was no transition. We walked into a shelter filled with animals and some containers of chemical solution that had been watered down.”

Cronin also said volunteers scrubbed the lobby, bathroom and laundry room on their hands and knees.

“It was much cleaner than when we went in there,” she said. “The office was dirty, fabric chairs had stains and hair and when we pulled the desk out there was a half-eaten sandwich behind it.”

Tails End agreed to an annual $225,000 contract with Nye County and began running the shelter last April, when Cronin presented a one-year plan to county officials.

Part of that plan included reducing the facility’s 60-percent euthanasia rate the previous year, with a stronger focus on spaying, neutering and public education.

Less than a year after that contractual agreement was signed, County Commissioners voted not renew the shelter’s contract due to budget cuts.

As an alternative earlier this year, commissioners authorized a contract extension to the shelter on a month-to-month basis at $18,000, which spelled the beginning of the end for Tails End, as its final day arrived on June 30.

Payne’s department was forced to take over the day-to-day operations of the shelter after Cronin decided they were too underfunded and too undermanned to handle the volume of animals the facility was taking in daily.

Days before their exit, Cronin said there was at least one family who was interested in adopting an animal.

“We had a stray dog who could not be adopted until July 2nd,” she said. “We had a home lined up for it but we were not allowed to send the family to adopt.”

Writing grants was another issue Cronin spoke of, which she said never came to fruition.

“Grants were supposed to be mutual with the county grant manager,” she said. “There were some available, but I never met with the grant writer. Also I did not have an office. There was only one small office used by all of us. Mine was my car, Denny’s and my dining room.”

Cronin said she is continually looking for a suitable location for a facility to provide vaccinations along with spaying and neutering.

“We would have gladly used the on-site clinic to finish spay/neuters, administer shots and other services, but we are banned.”

Last month, Nye County Manager Pam Webster released a statement shortly after Tails End’s decision to cancel the month-to-month contract.

“This notice from them was not unexpected,” the statement read in part.

At present, there are approximately 70 animals remaining at the facility, which are not adoptable until the court’s resolve their owners cases.

Payne noted the animal shelter is operating with a ‘bare-bones’ crew, while he’s been seeking suitable options for the dogs. He said many non-profit facilities can provide superior care for the animals, when compared to most municipality shelters.

“If you look around the northern part of the state, in Washoe County, you’ll find that a lot of the best and most flourishing animal shelters are the non-profits. If you go to the Truckee, Tahoe area, their shelters are nicer than some people’s homes that I know of and it’s completely done through a 501c3.”


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