“We believe The Animal Foundation overstated capacity to Clark County Animal Protection Services to discourage drop-offs to the shelter,” says a Clark County audit of the organization. (Photo: April Corbin Girnus/Nevada Current)
Clark County’s government-funded animal shelter, The Animal Foundation (TAF), inflated its population projections to discourage animal control officers from bringing animals to the shelter, according to a long-anticipated internal county audit obtained Monday by the Current.
The county announced in March it was auditing TAF after commissioners received numerous complaints from the public.
According to the audit, TAF uses a formula based on shelter population and staffing to project its capacity for caring for animals. When the calculation reaches 93%, TAF considers capacity and staffing to be at a crisis level or ‘code red’ and asks animal control to bring in only animals that are considered to be a danger to the community or in need of medical care, the audit says.
In December 2022, TAF reported crisis levels to animal control on 13 of 21 days sampled by auditors. However, a recalculation of the data found TAF never reached a crisis level during those three weeks, and overstated its calculation by an average of 22% a day.
The audit found the discrepancy in the shelter’s capacity reporting to be of high risk.
“We believe The Animal Foundation overstated capacity to Clark County Animal Protection Services to discourage drop-offs to the shelter,” the audit says, adding the data provided by TAF indicate staffing shortages.
TAF, in response to the audit, told the county it’s no longer using the color-coded system.
“While impending or projected capacity issues are still communicated to our Animal Protection Service partners, this is no longer done daily,” TAF said, adding the county has “full access to the shelter database software” which includes the number of animals being sheltered.
“During each of our visits we found the grounds, kennels and general areas of the Lied Animal Shelter to be in clean and sanitary conditions,” the audit says, noting TAF is in overall compliance with its service agreement with the county. “The County has a large animal population and has seen an increase in the demand for animal shelter services.”
According to data posted on TAF’s website, intake has fallen below pre-pandemic levels while euthanization has increased. Last year, TAF euthanized more dogs and cats than in 2019, although it took in 3,700 fewer animals.
“Based on our research and testing, The Animal Foundation is not needlessly euthanizing animals, despite the challenges of operating an urban shelter,” the audit says.
The audit found TAF lacks service agreements with emergency veterinary service providers and says its service agreement with the county is “vague and lacks detailed requirements” and suggests it formalize TAF’s managed intake process, which requires appointments to drop off an animal.
TAF’s CEO Hilarie Grey has called the protocol “a mistake.”
“In many cases, the next appointment available to the public may be several weeks in the future,” the audit says. “There is no language in the agreement that prohibits this managed intake process. However, members of the public may feel as though shelter services are not being provided.”
The audit also notes TAF asserts it receives animals on an emergency basis, “but we could not determine how an emergency is identified. The services agreement should be amended to describe what constitutes an emergency.”
TAF “does not provide sufficient staffing to immediately answer and direct calls from the community,” the audit notes. “All calls are processed by an automated system where the client is required to leave a message and wait for a call back.”
The audit says the practice “creates a risk to animals in need of shelter due to delays in responding to messages. This results in the community feeling that the County is not meeting its obligation to provide care, control, and sheltering of animals which are sick, abandoned, lost, or improperly running at large within its jurisdictional boundaries.”
TAF received a total of $12.7 million in 2022 – $4.8 million from local governments; $3.6 million from “other revenue”; $1.2 million from program revenues; $1.25 million in grant income; and $1.85 million in donor contributions, auditors reported.
TAF failed to provide the county with reports required under its agreement, including an annual budget for 2022; audited financial statements for 2021; expenditures from the shelter capital reserve; and the annual calculation of the capital reserve fund total amount and allocations for 2022.
“The lack of reporting reduces the County’s ability to oversee The Animal Foundation’s overall financial condition,” auditors wrote.
“This one-time lapse in reporting is attributed to staff and leadership vacancies,” TAF responded to the county. “A new system is now in place to facilitate the timely submission of these documents.”
The audit found TAF lacks service agreements with third-party veterinary services, resulting in “instances where there may be gaps in emergency care.” In response, TAF told the county it is executing new contracts.
Tha audit also found TAF’s noticing of an annual public meeting results in minimal attendance.
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