The Animal Foundation (Photo: April Corbin Girnus/Nevada Current)
Southern Nevada’s primary government-funded animal shelter, The Animal Foundation (TAF) is failing to abide by the law by not sterilizing animals, and is engaged in deceptive practices by advertising services it doesn’t provide, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The suit alleges No-Kill Las Vegas, a non-profit animal rescue, and other members of the rescue community “are forced to remain silent out of a concern if they bring attention to TAF’s failure to spay and neuter that instead TAF will euthanize these animals. Plaintiff is left in a catch 22: bring awareness to TAF’s misconduct but at the risk of TAF retaliating and euthanizing healthy animals.”
TAF board member Jan Jones was unaware of the suit when contacted by the Current. TAF CEO Hilarie Grey did not respond to requests for comment.
No-Kill Las Vegas (NKLV) claims it’s been irreparably damaged as a result of TAF’s alleged failures, and is seeking $15,000 in damages, as well as attorneys fees and costs. It’s also asking Clark County Judge Crystal Eller to compel TAF to abide by spay and neuter laws.
“TAF shall cause to be spayed or neutered in accordance with applicable law any cat or dog that is transferred by TAF to or is adopted by, any person or organization…” say TAF’s government contracts with Clark County, Las Vegas and North Las Vegas.
“To avoid having their dogs and cats spayed and neutered before being adopted, TAF enters into long term ‘fostering’ arrangements with individuals, fostering out unneutered and unspayed dogs and cats,” the suit says. Additionally, NKLV alleges in 2021, TAF provided adopters with vouchers to sterilize the animals but made no effort to ensure the procedures were completed.
The suit alleges TAF’s failure to comply with the law is “arbitrary and capricious” and “in contravention of the rights of NKLV and its supporters.”
The suit contends NKLV founder Bryce Henderson relied on Grey’s representations in early 2022 that she would address concerns about the shelter but never did.
NKLV’s concerns were focused on TAF;s adoption process, which required interested parties to wait in line for hours and possibly be turned away and told to return the next day.
The rescue argues it’s been irrevocably harmed by its reliance on Grey’s representations, which prompted the rescue to refrain “from its usual social media criticism and protests targeting TAF.”
“Much like a public hospital, as an open-admission shelter, The Animal Foundation takes in every animal who comes to us in need, no matter how sick or injured,” says TAF’s website, as noted in the lawsuit.
But TAF has not operated as an open-admission shelter since Grey, citing an increase in lost and abandoned animals that is beyond TAF’s ability to address, instituted managed intake – a process requiring appointments weeks and even months in advance to relinquish stray or owned animals.
“An appointment is required to turn in every lost pet brought to The Animal Foundation,” says its website.
In contrast to Grey’s contention that animal intake is up, data posted on TAF’s website indicate the shelter accepted fewer animals in 2022 than before the pandemic. The lawsuit contends TAF has empty bungalows that are not being used to house cats and dogs.
The suit alleges that because of TAF’s periodic closure of the shelter to intakes, animal control officers refuse to pick up roaming animals for lack of a place to hold them.
NKLV’s suit also repeats allegations made by former TAF COO James Pumphrey, who was terminated by Grey shortly after he issued a report critical of TAF’s operations, including the care of sick and injured animals.
“Mild and moderate medical conditions were not being examined or provided timely medical interventions,” the report said, according to the lawsuit. “Severe medical cases were examined but often delayed by several days due to the available veterinarians and support staff… This directly impacted the ability to provide humane and compassionate care. Animals often were delayed treatment and even pain management based on the lack of capacity.”
Pumphrey went on to say vaccinations were “not being performed” and that euthanasia was backlogged, with “over eighty animals waiting…”
Additionally, according to the lawsuit, Pumphrey reported TAF’s “veterinary services were out of compliance with the Nevada Department of Radiology and the Nevada Veterinary Board.”
“Upon information and belief, TAF at times has only had one veterinarian on staff and therefore unable to meet its obligations for 24-hour veterinary care,” the suit alleges.
The lawsuit notes that TAF’s failure to answer phone calls has resulted in animals being euthanized, even as their owners search for them.
Henderson of NKLV, reached by phone Tuesday, says he’s hopeful individuals who believe they’ve been harmed by TAF, as well as rescues, will join the lawsuit. “The rest of us out here are suffering because the Animal Foundation has not been doing their job.”
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