Animal Foundation CEO pleads for community’s help to ease overcrowding

By: - September 26, 2022 5:20 pm

The Animal Foundation CEO Hilarie Grey, flanked by state Sen. Mo Denis, Las Vegas City Councilwoman and Republican candidate for state treasurer Michele Fiore, and former Las Vegas mayor Jan Jones. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

One day after its admissions staff quit, Animal Foundation Las Vegas CEO Hilarie Grey held a news conference issuing an urgent plea for foster homes to alleviate crowding. Those interested should visit the shelter in person from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. 

In an email Sunday to TAF, eight employees cited lack of staff, low wages “and the amount of times we have gone without any help despite asking,” for their resignations. “We were hopeful the new CEO would make the changes she promised, but to no avail we were left disappointed and with no change.” 

TAF’s admissions facility was closed Sunday as a result. It reopened today. 

Employees say they could make more money working in fast food restaurants and have asked to be compensated appropriately, but denied higher pay.  

Grey says she takes responsibility for the walkout, and says she has reached out to the workers.  

“I was shattered personally,” she said of the mass resignation. “It broke my heart that our team members felt like they didn’t have another path but to make the choice to leave.” 

Grey says the shelter is experiencing 48% higher intake volume this year than 2019. She cited higher than normal intakes for contributing to worker stress.  

“Typically there will be a seasonal decline, but we’re not seeing that this year,” said Grey, who joined TAF in January.  

Data on the shelter’s website indicates dog intakes are up 23% from last year and cat intakes are up 28%.  

“This is not a new problem,” North Las Vegas City Councilman Richard Cherchio said of TAF’s chronic issues in an interview following the news conference, to which he was not invited but attended. 

Cherchio says NLV is powerless to take action unless TAF violates its contract with the city. Last week, the City of Las Vegas, which along with North Las Vegas and Clark County provides funding $4.7 million annually for TAF, notified the shelter it is in violation of its contract.  

A spokesman for Clark County says the government is aware of the staffing issues and has been in contact with TAF officials.

“At this time we do not believe the care of the animals has been affected. Also, our recent visits and inspections found no significant issues regarding the care of animals there,” spokesman Dan Kulin said in a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation at TAF and discuss issues of concern with TAF officials when they arise.”

Kulin says County Animal Protection is modifying its field activities temporarily to reduce intakes at TAF.

North Las Vegas has attempted to stem TAF’s intake of 25,000 animals a year by banning the sale of pets from stores.  Clark County is considering a similar ordinance. Las Vegas repealed its ban in 2017.  Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Councilwoman Michele Fiore voted in favor of the repeal. 

“Instead of complaining and being part of the problem, be part of the solution,” Fiore said at the news conference, noting she volunteered by cleaning a bungalow at TAF on Monday. 

While cleaning bungalows and finding foster homes will clear space in the immediate future, it does nothing to slow intake. 

Cherchio says he’s crafting an ordinance in North Las Vegas to outlaw backyard breeding, a major source of animal overpopulation in the valley. 

He also says the shelter may need augmented government funding, given a recession-related drop in fundraising.

Note: This story was updated with comment from Clark County.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.