LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The pet rescue community is mourning a devastating loss after a pet caretaker, her driver, and animals were killed in a deadly crash in Nye County.

The crash happened Thursday on U.S. 95 at mile marker 56, south of Beatty as Ilene Rivera and her driver Chris were heading to Tonopah from Las Vegas.

Shannon Weeks is the president of Kitty Mafia Rescue and remembers her friend Ilene Rivera as a wholehearted animal lover. Bonding through their mission of pet rescues, Weeks said she worked with Rivera over the past few years.

“Ilene became a very good friend of mine.” Weeks said. “She was living up in Tonopah and did a lot of rescues up there on her own. There is no help up in Tonopah for the animals that are lost, abused, and neglected.”

Ilene Rivera. (Shannon Weeks)

“She would take care of those animals before she would take care of herself,” Weeks went on to explain. “She often put all of her bills on hold. She would go absolutely broke and at times she would not eat for days just so she would be able to have the money to feed the animals that were in her care.”

Rivera was no stranger to long drives, she made the journey from Tonopah to Las Vegas at least twice a month, to get animals the help they deserved.

“She heavily relied on us to take in animals from her and get them adopted out here and we also helped her financially with all the vetting that needed to be done for the animals that we’re up in Tonopah,” Weeks said.

When Weeks heard of Rivera’s tragic passing several days ago, she knew she had to keep her legacy alive.

“She was traveling back to Tonopah and a driver came behind a semi-truck trying to pass and Ilene and her driver Chris, they were hit head-on by this other driver,” added Weeks. “All of the animals she had were 11 cats total, there were 2 dogs, Ilene and Chris, they all perished in that crash. There is one sole surviving kitten.”

Source: Shannon Weeks

Weeks has picked up the sole surviving kitten from a Pahrump animal shelter and he is currently at Ann Road Animal Hospital. Once she ensures the kitten is healthy, she will put it up for adoption.

To continue Rivera’s ongoing work, Weeks sent a group to Tonopah to retrieve 41 cats and kittens and placed them in rescues in the Las Vegas valley. She said any help is appreciated. 

“Any donations that come in, we are going to disperse that money amongst the rescues here in Las Vegas to help them with any vetting that needs to be done because some of these cats and kittens did come back here ill,” Weeks added. “The rescues here in town all heavily rely on the public for donations. We don’t always have the financial means to be able to do that. We want the community to know that they really need to spay and neuter their animals”

Weeks said Rivera will be dearly missed by everyone and the lives she touched.

“Ilene was a special soul, she really was,” Weeks said. “She dedicated her whole entire life to saving animals. That was a big passion of hers.”

You can contact Shannon Weeks at if you would like to donate or foster a pet.

To donate to the GoFundMe, click here on this link.