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Meet the new manager for the Nye County Animal Shelter

A little more than a year and a half ago, the new 79-dog capacity no-kill Nye County Animal Shelter opened and promptly received a baptism by fire a few days later when more than 300 abused and neglected Caucasian shepherds were seized, overwhelming the facility’s capacities and resources, and capturing national headlines. These days, the shelter has returned to its normal intended function but with new leadership in place.

Meet Kristi Siegmund

With more than 20 years as an operations manager and general manager for Starbucks, a start-up insurance company and an international manufacturing company, Kristi Siegmund brings tons of experience to her new job as the Nye County Animal Shelter’s manager.

“Most of my background has been in operations management. Overseeing customer service, overseeing client services, call centers… really making sure that the company is working and moving efficiently,” says Siegmund.

She continues, “When this position became available, it was really unique, because I’ve always loved animals, I’ve always volunteered. I volunteered at Never Forgotten since 2019. This is a management position that is operations, where my forte is, but it’s also dealing with animals, which I absolutely love — so then we’re combining the two things.”

This passionate rescuer of three dogs and three cats put in her application with the county commissioners, and was hired. She is now six weeks in the job, and as she says, “These last six weeks have been, I don’t want to say a crash course, but kind of, in learning government, learning how town structures work, and what is allowed and what isn’t allowed, what are boundaries and barriers. Different processes of doing things.”

Plans for the shelter

One of the goals for her and the commissioners is having an in-house, independent veterinary clinic, supporting the community with low-cost services, such as spay or neuter and vaccinations. In fact, a third of the building was actually designed and built with this in mind, including a separate entrance, reception area, four exam rooms and a fully equipped surgical suite and pre-op area.

“Getting a vet [in-house] to service our babies…” says Siegmund, is her No. 1 goal, also providing care to the animals in the shelter, currently receiving treatment from outside.

She has already accomplished one of the goals assigned to her by allowing customers to use their debit or credit cards at the currently cash-only facility.

“So, the company I’m working with has a target date of May 15 to have credit card services here at the shelter,” explains Siegmund.

She is also a big fan of working with local businesses.

“I want to move our services, as well as the items that we use here, local. I’m a huge advocate of ‘shop local, support local.’ So even our food here at the shelter is now coming from Tractor Supply. We go through about a 50-pound bag of dog food a day,” she says.

“It also makes it really nice when people come to adopt. Because, that is a question that’s asked, ‘What are you feeding them?’ And we can say we’re feeding them something that they can purchase locally,” states Siegmund. “All the way around, it works.”

“I would love to get involved with Tractor Supply and either do a standing adoption event, even if that’s once a month, or kind of sneaking a booth into the farmers market on Saturday mornings,” Siegmund explains how she wants the community to know more about the shelter and the adoptable animals they provide. This also helps them understand their “babies’” behavior and socializes them.

She also wants to make the shelter more accessible to the community.

“A lot of people are off on the weekends. I feel we miss a chunk of our community and population because of our hours [Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.],” says Siegmund, who added that “getting the shelter open on Saturdays, even if it’s just a couple of Saturdays a month” is a goal.

She believes studying visitation data will help her understand what weekdays can be open half-day or completely closed to accommodate this.

On the subject of local animal rescues and sanctuaries, Siegmund says, “We’re all obviously passionate about animals. We should be working together and utilizing each other for resources. I know that has happened in the past, and it’s been decent, but I’d love to strengthen that relationship even more.”

What’s happening now

Siegmund is also in charge of the animal shelter in Tonopah. With a total of 13 employees, including six ACO (animal control officers), between both locations, she also regularly makes visits to the Tonopah shelter.

“In the month of March, we had 70 dogs that we took into the shelter,” says Siegmund. “And of those 70 dogs, 38 of them were [returned to their] owner.”

This was largely due to the animals being microchipped. Some of the remaining dogs are in what’s called “protective custody.” When an owner is, for example, arrested or hospitalized, an Animal Control officer will collect the animal and bring it to the shelter.

“We will hold the animal here under ‘protective custody’ at no cost to that family,” she says, continuing, “…and we will feed it, we will make sure it has water, we will care for it. We will treat it like one of our own personal ‘babies’ until that person is out of hospital, or next of kin/immediate family have a solution for the animal.”

Also in March, the shelter adopted out 12 animals, but Siegmund wants to boost those numbers by holding adoption specials. “…the first week of April we ran a ‘Spring a Pet’ promotion,” Siegmund says. “During that week we did [adopted] 11. So we almost matched our whole entire month of March.”

What Siegmund wants you to know

When talking about microchips, Siegmund wants you to know, “It’s not a GPS unit. It literally is an electronic registration, an electronic license, for your animal in the event they get out, they get lost, you get separated from them. We scan and we have your information to contact you, so we can reunite you.” The shelter has received calls from pet owners asking for the GPS location of their lost animal.

There is also a misconception in the community that the shelter is a kill shelter. “There’s a lot of rumors and there’s a lot of talk about how we have a euthanasia lab - we don’t! We are a no-kill shelter. We are a shelter that will continue to care for these ‘babies’ and keep these ‘babies’ until they are adopted…” states Siegmund, or until they are transferred to a no-kill rescue or sanctuary either locally or throughout the state. Proof of this is the near-capacity number of animals waiting for their ‘forever home’ currently in the shelter.

The only exception is when, “…a dog is so ill, and the humane choice is to euthanize,” she says. Even then, the decision is made in consultation with a vet.

Siegmund says, “If you’re looking for a new best friend, check a shelter first.”

You can see all the adoptable animals the shelter offers at 24Petconnect.com. The shelter in Pahrump is located at 1580 E. Siri Lane, their phone number is (775) 751-7020, and the phone number to contact an Animal Control officer is (775) 751-6351. They also have a Facebook presence under Nye County Animal Shelter.

John Clausen is a freelance journalist in Pahrump.

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