Calling all Tahoe Basin cat and dog lovers | SierraSun.com

Calling all Tahoe Basin cat and dog lovers

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunKris Vivano, an animal care technician at the Tahoe Vista Animal Shelter, hugs Ruby, a mixed breed, inside a kennel the dog shares with Pirate, a cocker spaniel. Dogs share kennels when the shelter is crowded.

Squid is a small, black Scottish terrier with sweet eyes, found last week on the corner of Highway 28 and Olive Street. Leaning on the cement wall with two front paws, Squid cocked his head sideways and began to whimper, begging for some attention.

A few kennels down, a white-and-brown spotted pointer mix named Heidi pawed rapidly on the chain-link gate to her kennel.

Marked by the loud and constant chorus of yipping, howling and barking, the Placer County animal shelter in Tahoe Vista is a sanctuary for abandoned or stray pets who need a little tender, loving care.

But the 12-kennel shelter has been overwhelmed this summer with heavy pet traffic and a small number of volunteers.

“We’re really lucky here and that’s what we want to keep,” said Kris Viviano, an animal care technician. “We want to get dogs [adopted] as much as possible.”

In the month of July, 16 stray cats and dogs came into the shelter: Ten were returned to their owners and six were adopted, according to the shelter’s data.

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“Sometimes people forget about our little shelter back here,” said Connie Nowlin of the Wylie Animal Rescue Foundation. Nowlin regularly volunteers at the shelter.

The shelter is always seeking more volunteers to care for the animals and new homes to take in the animals, Viviano said.

Currently five volunteers regularly come to the shelter to take the animals for walks and help out around the shelter.

Potential adopters must fill out an application and be interviewed, Viviano said. The shelter follows up and checks on the adopted home once the animal has a chance to settle in.

“We make sure they go into the appropriate home that feels right for them,” Viviano said.

The Tahoe Vista shelter is one of two Placer County animal shelters. Its larger counterpart is located in Auburn.

Unlike private shelters, county law mandates that the shelter take in every dog, cat, or even the occasional bird, iguana or rabbit, no matter how much room is available ” often overwhelming the small facility tucked behind Tahoe Vista.

Ultimately, it’s the animals who suffer in the end, Viviano said. When the shelter becomes too cramped, each animal has less room. And few volunteers means fewer people taking sheltered dogs for a walk.

“If we have small numbers, we can do a lot more one on one with the dogs,” Viviano said.

When the shelter is at maximum capacity, animals are taken into foster homes and, as a last resort, some are euthanized, Viviano said.

“When space get’s tight and we get too full, [euthanization] is our last option,” she said.

Behavioral issues mostly dictate which animals are euthanized, Viviano said.