INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev.- The Pet Network Humane Society saves and finds homes for animals otherwise destined to be euthanized. But the building housing the nonprofit is in need of major repairs, and officials are asking Incline Village residents for help.
Whenever it has room, the nonprofit rescues soon-to-die dogs and cats from animal shelters across Nevada and California. Currently, the Pet Network has 60 cats, 15 adult dogs and 20 puppies looking for people to take them home and love them.
Incline Village residents Aaron and Danielle Zendner looked for a dog at the Pet Network on Monday for their two boys, Albert and Ace, who had their eyes on a white puppy.
"We've actually been looking for two months," said Danielle Zendner. "We are absolutely looking for a rescue dog. It's a no-brainer."
Not that the animals don't get plenty of love every day at Pet Network. Executive Director Becky Goodman and her staff of seven regularly spend quality time with them and take dogs out for exercise and play. Pet Network also has close to 400 registered volunteers, with an average of 20 volunteers working at any one time.
One full-time staffer is Arielle Shipe, who has worked with Pet Network for three months and has already adopted her own dog from the facility and has his picture of it on her phone.
"I looked through the window (of a kennel) and I said, 'Oh my gosh, I've got to go in,'" she recalled, adding that her border collie pointer, Maddox, now accompanies her to work.
Goodman was hired out of Florida in 2008, after the stage four cancer that afflicted her went into remission. She said she knows what it's like to get another chance at life.
"I have a lot of empathy for these animals for very good reason," she said.
The most salient aspects of entering the Pet Network are its cleanliness, and, moving farther into the facility, its animals: Dogs eagerly watch visitors from inside large kennels, and cats communally lounge in the living room-like "cat house." Even the office areas have cats lazily perched on file cabinets and dogs sleeping by workers' feet.
But trouble lies in what can't be easily seen, Goodman said. Over the years, Pet Network has repaired, patched and duct taped the building in various spots, but some failing systems cannot be deferred any longer.
Pet Network has been in existence for 20 years, but moved into the then new building on Village Boulevard 11 years ago.
"People walk in and see a beautiful facility. For them, they may just see chips out of the floor. For us, it's the health of the animals," she said, adding that those cracks and eroded surfaces may harbor bacteria that cleaning agents can't get to.
Pet Network prides itself on cleanliness, Goodman said, and there lies one part of the problem with the building's deterioration. Kennels are regularly scrubbed with inherently corrosive cleaning agents that gradually eat away metals and flooring. The cracked and corroded floors need to be replaced with solid and seamless cleaning agent-resistant flooring.
In addition, two other major systems are in need of replacement. The building's extensive heating/cooling system is failing. Also, the in-ceiling, fire sprinkler system plumbing is failing (recently needing 13 leaks plugged), Goodman said, and other plumbing is also in need of major work.
Lesser, but still important, said Goodman, is the outdoor exercise and holding kennels need higher and stronger fencing, and heat-taped guttering needs to be put along roof eves to keep melting snow from dripping near the exercise kennels and forming dangerous sheets of ice.
The goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of March to tackle the repairs, Goodman said.
Pet Network operates daily on donations and events like the annual Fur Ball and Strut your Mutt. To help with operating costs, the nonprofit has a gift shop, sells pet supplies and Science Diet food, all to keep resident cats and dogs happy and healthy.
Pet Network also offers services to the community, such as doggie day care, boarding, in-home care and dog walking. The nonprofit also has liability insurance set up to protect all seven employees against theft and wrongdoing, Goodman said.
Two veterinarians have a practice in the building, open to the community, and in return for their space, they spay, neuter, vaccinate, microchip and keep healthy every dog and cat entering Pet Network, preparing them for adoption.
Costs to adopt pets vary on the pet.
Goodman said she is grateful for donators contributing $39,000 so far toward the looming building repairs, but remains concerned about keeping the Pet Network building animal-friendly.
"I don't know how else to get the word out," she said. "We need the help."
- Frank Fisher is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. He can be reached for comment at email@example.com.