LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As the snow melts away in Kyle Canyon, those living there say they’re finding more pets abandoned nearby. It’s a situation made worse by an already stressed animal shelter system.
Within minutes of his secluded neighborhood, Jimmy Alderson said 12 abandoned dogs were found in the past year and a half.
“They’re very matted,” said Alderson. “They haven’t even been taken care of.” Alderson’s home is located home roughly 10 minutes away from the Lee Canyon Ski Resort.
“It’s not very uncommon, unfortunately,” he said.
The dumping grounds are covered in cacti, uneven terrain, and predatory animals, according to Jennifer Humphreys, who works as lead visitor center coordinator for the U.S. Forest Service.
“We do get snakes, and snakes can bite. We don’t know what type of bacteria will be in their mouth and what kind of disease that can spread to, again, both you or your animal, your pet,” said Humphreys. “Can you imagine the pain and just the annoyance your dog is experiencing as it walks through vegetation that is really thick and sticking to you?”
It leaves these dogs with slim survival odds. Hikers who encounter the animals say they’re forced to decide whether to leave them alone or to take them in amidst a changing county animal shelter system.
The Animal Foundation, which said over the summer that it was taking in 90 animals a day, reported 3,784 stray dogs were dropped off to them in 2022. The organization also halted all intakes between October and November during a canine virus outbreak.
When 8newsnow.com tried scheduling a drop-off appointment for a stray dog, the next available appointment was for one month away. In a statement Monday, an Animal Foundation representative said the appointment system is necessary to maintain a population they can properly care for.
“Shelters and rescue organizations across the country are bursting at the seams,” the statement reads in part. “While we do take emergencies outside of our scheduled appointments, the appointments are imperative to keeping our organization within a population that we can safely and humanely care for. The Animal Foundation is currently providing care and shelter for almost 500 dogs and over 700 animals in total.”
Animal rescues, like Nevada SPCA, are forced to compensate when those who find the animals cannot do so. Executive Director Lori Heeran says the organization is experiencing a crisis
“There’s only so many dog enclosures. There’s only so many foster families that we can put them in,” said Heeran adding that they depend on the community to keep their pets instead of abandoning them.
“With the crisis, and then you add in rising costs where people cannot afford to keep their animals, it’s going to be a long and hot summer in southern Nevada animal rescue,” said Heeran.
Until animal intake systems stabilize, Alderson says she fears the next time a lost dog stumbles across his path. He wonders if that dog will be able to get the care it needs.
“Maybe people got them during the pandemic, and they don’t want them anymore. Maybe the shelters are full, and they think maybe that this is a good place for them. But, it’s not,” Alderson said, adding that there may be more dogs abandoned that they have not yet discovered.
The Animal Foundation representative added that their Keeping Every Person and Pet Together program helps cover the costs of pet food, vaccinations, rent deposits, spay and neuter surgeries, and certain medical bills. Additional recommended steps to take after finding a stray animal are listed on the organization’s website.