Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe sets record for October adoptions | SierraSun.com

Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe sets record for October adoptions

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TRUCKEE, Calif. — More than 50 dogs and cats will spend this upcoming holiday season with their new family as a result of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe recently experiencing a record-breaking adoption month.

Founded in 1994, The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe is reporting 52 animal adoptions for October — 29 dogs and 23 cats — compared to 44 adoptions the same month last year.

"It honestly just makes it all worthwhile," said Stephanie Nistler, executive director of HSTT. "Everyone here works really, really hard, and there's no shortage of sad things that we see and deal with all the time, so to see the other side of it … just makes it all worthwhile."

While fall is generally a popular time for pet adoptions, Nistler said she doesn't know for certain why this October proved to be the Humane Society's best month ever — but she has a few ideas.

“I think once you become an adopter, you’re an adopter for life.”Stephanie NistlerHumane Society of Truckee-Tahoe

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Among them are shifting attitudes people are having toward shelter animals, she said.

"People used to view animals in shelters as unwanted throwaway pets that somebody gave away because there was something wrong with them, and it could not be further from the truth," Nistler said. "The animals we get, 90 percent of the time come through at no fault of their own. Their owners are moving, or they have a baby or they get divorced, and these animals, all they want is to be loved.

"I think once you become an adopter, you're an adopter for life."

She also credits the new Truckee Animal Shelter facility with last month's adoption high.

"I think the facility has a lot to do with (it)," Nistler said. "It's so beautiful. It's a nice draw."

New shelter

Opening in September 2013, the Truckee Animal Shelter at 10961 Stevens Lane is a 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility.

The roughly $6 million building — construction of which was financed evenly between the town of Truckee and the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe — is designed to house an estimated 36 dogs and 80 cats, and more if puppies and kittens are present, said Dan Olsen, animal services manager for the town of Truckee.

It features an advanced ventilation system to help reduce the spread of illness, rooms for dogs with indoor and outdoor access to reduce stress, and large windows and TVs airing images of birds and squirrels to stimulate cats.

"The truth of the matter is, I think when somebody knows that it's not going to break their heart, they open their mind to going in and checking it out," Nistler said. "So I think the facility has been everything in that respect."

The two-year old facility is a major upgrade from the previous 1,100-square-foot animal kennel located at the former Town Corporation Yard that was constructed in 1998 as a temporary, short-term housing shelter.

Inside, there was only room to house up to 10 dogs and 18 to 20 cats comfortably; also, the dogs could easily see each other causing stress, and there was no natural light, Nistler said. In addition, the facility was only open to the public two hours a week.

In 2012, the last full year that facility was used, 253 animals were adopted, compared to the 296 adoptions in 2013, Olsen said.

As for 2014, the first full year operating in the new facility that's open 40 hours a week, there were 467 adoptions, Nistler said.

Adoptions for this year are expected to exceed those of 2014, she added.

Helping the broader community

When asked if the recent partnership between the town of Truckee and eastern Placer County for animal sheltering services might have influenced October's adoption figure, Nistler said it's difficult to say.

Since Sept. 1, when the partnership went into effect, the Truckee shelter has received 19 stray or relinquished animals that would have otherwise been housed at the former Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter, Olsen said.

Wesley Nicks, director of environmental health and animal services for Placer County, said the three dogs that were in the Tahoe Vista facility at the time of the transition were relocated to the Auburn Animal Shelter.

As for the former Tahoe Vista building at 849 Shelter Road, it has ceased operating and is being used for storage, Nicks said.

It's unknown what the long-term plan is for the 40-plus-year-old, 1,500-square-foot building, he said, that until recently could house up to 12 dogs and 10 cats at one time.

The interest of the animals was one of the main reasons cited by Placer County officials for pursuing this partnership with Truckee.

At the former Tahoe Vista shelter, which did not met current Humane Society standards, the average length of stay for dogs was four to six months and nine months for cats, Nicks said.

In contrast, Truckee's modern facility boasts an average stay of 17 days for dogs and 21 days for cats, Nistler said.

As for concerns raised by the public at the possibility of losing Tahoe's local animal shelter — response time to animal control calls, space in the Truckee shelter to house additional animals and travel distance being a deterrent — Nistler said those have been "non-issue(s)" to date.

Both Olsen and Nicks agree the partnership is going well, with no issues arising in the nearly first three months of the 30-year agreement term.

"What we like about the agreement is that now we just have the opportunity to help a broader part of our community," Nistler said. "We've always considered ourselves part of the eastern Placer County community. We have Tahoe in our name for a reason.

"We have been providing services over there for a really long time, but we haven't been getting the animals and placing them back into homes. They've been staying over there, so this has been really nice for us because now we're seeing the animals, we're giving them everything that they need, and then we're getting them into homes."

‘Home for the howlidays’

This December, area business owners can help raise money for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe and Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation and bring attention to adoptable pets in a ‘Home for the Howlidays’ campaign.

Those interested in learning more or participating should inquire prior to Dec. 2. Contact Michelle Okashima, owner of Hot Diggity Dog and Cat, at 530-546-2725, or Kara Carstensen, of HSTT, at 530-587-5948.