Humane society sees rise in relinquishments

Nick Cruit
Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE/TAHOE and#8212;-Missing the companionship of his dependable chocolate lab, who had to be put down days before Christmas due to heart failure and old age, Chris Toreson found himself in the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe looking for a new friend in mid-January.

There he met Larry, a one-year-old yellow lab puppy that Toreson said he really connected with.

and#8220;He was skinny, but other than that he was a normal puppy, playful and rambunctiousand#8221; Toreson said of their first meeting. and#8220;I spent some time with him at the kennel one day and then decided to take him home and#8211; you can usually tell pretty quickly when you have a connection with a dog.and#8221;

Like Toreson, Larry entered the new relationship with a sad history. In early January, Larry and a cat were found locked inside the closet of an abandoned Sierraville home.

Though both animals were later adopted, itand#8217;s an all too familiar story for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, who reported last week that foreclosures and financial problems are now responsible for the majority of the pets that end up in their hands.

and#8220;This year, about 65 percent of all the animal turn-ins have been related to the economy,and#8221; said Stephanie Hiemstra, the humane societyand#8217;s executive director. and#8220;A lot of it is due to foreclosure and job loss.and#8221;

Pet abandonment was on the rise across the country earlier this year. But here in Tahoe, Hiemstra said she never saw abandonment issues indicative of national trends.

and#8220;There have only been a few cases of animal abandonment,and#8221; she said. Larryand#8217;s story stuck out to Hiemstra as one of the more troubled situations

But more often than not, Hiemstra said she deals with pet owners who have made the choice between keeping a roof over their heads or keeping their pets.

and#8220;We see them sometimes every day; theyand#8217;re all filled with tears,and#8221; Hiemstra said of the heartbroken pet owners. and#8220;But itand#8217;s nice to be in the position we are in because we are able to place each animal in new, loving homes.and#8221;

A lot of the animals that have recently been relinquished to the humane society come from good homes and are highly adoptable, Hiemstra added. In some cases, owners are giving up pets that have been a dependable part of their family for up to 10 years.

and#8220;If people are interested in adoption they should definitely look to us,and#8221; Hiemstra said. and#8220;Weand#8217;re getting a lot of great animals that are all looking for good homes.and#8221;

As for Larry, Toreson said his loveable lab has filled out some but, and#8220;heand#8217;s still a puppy and has a lot more room to grow.and#8221;

The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe has received quite a few small dogs and cats in the last month, according to executive director Stephanie Hiemstra. Interested adopters are encouraged to call the humane society at (530) 587-5948 to set up an appointment Tuesday through Friday. The humane societyand#8217;s kennel is also open to the public every Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. Additional information about adoptions and updated photos of pets available at

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.