County partnering with Truckee to use modern animal shelter

Published on August 28, 2015

The first of September will mark a significant, positive change for animal shelter services in eastern Placer County. On that day, all county animal shelter services for the region will move from an aging facility in Tahoe Vista to a modern and well-equipped shelter owned by the Town of Truckee.

Beginning in September, any animals remaining in Placer County’s eastern animal shelter will be relocated to Truckee. Animals that are subsequently impounded by Animal Services east of the Sierra Crest will come to the Truckee facility. Animal Control officers will continue their patrol duties in the Tahoe area and respond to calls for service.  Lost and stray, licensed animals from the Tahoe Basin that end up in Truckee can receive a free ride home from Animal Control officers.

The county has entered into a 30-year contract with Truckee for the use of the shelter, which is operated by the Town of Truckee and the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. The partnership will enable the county to bring its shelter services in line with current national standards of care.

The benefits to the animals themselves are many. At the Tahoe Vista shelter, the average stay for a dog is three to four months. The average stay at the new Truckee facility is 17 days. The new shelter has more kennel space and is significantly quieter, reducing stress to the animal, allowing kennel staff to quickly do temperament evaluations and get them ready for adoption. This also helps staff ensure the animal goes to the right home.

“Anxiety is a big deal in shelter animals,” said Dan Olsen, support services manager for Truckee animal services. “There are two rooms to use for animal evaluations and dog-on-dog introductions. The process we use was developed nationally and we have the room to do it.”   

The Truckee shelter has rooms that can be used for both animal evaluations and introductions to potential adopters. The outside areas include large exercise runs. This space allows for animal evaluation and temperament testing and serves as a place where potential adopters can interact with the animals. Additionally, a community room is used for educational and outreach opportunities and also serves as another large area for dogs to interact with humans and other dogs. There are also areas where adopters can interact with cats and kittens in a low-stress environment.

Use of the new shelter will save the county about $100,000 each year. For services to remain in the existing facility, a new shelter, costing somewhere between $4 million and $5 million, would need to be built. The savings from using the Truckee shelter will come, in part, from the shelter’s in-house amenities. For example, having a surgical suite at the shelter eliminates the need to contract with outside entities for those services. Conversely, the aging Tahoe Vista shelter does not have space for many amenities and, because of its age and design, would need to be replaced in order to meet modern standards. The county will also reduce costs by using the new shelter's in-house kennel attendant services.

The Humane Society doesn’t see its basic role changing when Placer County moves its animal services to the new shelter.

"The Humane Society's goal, is to expand our services and programs so everyone in the North Tahoe-Truckee area can get the assistance they need for their pets," said Stephanie Nistler, executive director of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe. "We want people to know that we're here to help them and their animals."

Nistler said the society plans to expand its low-cost spay and neuter and animal education programs, in addition to providing off-site pet adoption opportunities.  

“The new shelter is more easily accessible by many of our communities,” said Wesley Nicks, director of Placer County Animal Services. “The adoption rates are higher, in part, because more people can get to this location.” 

Olsen said that the partnership makes sense for both the county and the town. 

“It’s a great mutual partnership and that’s a positive,” said Olsen. “Whenever two governmental agencies can come together for the betterment of the animals, we all win.”

“This agreement is simply good smart government. Any opportunity to partner with another agency and share resources to improve service at a reduced cost is the best option," said Nicks. “The bottom line is that the amenities at the Truckee shelter will improve overall animal health and well-being. Having clean, quiet and well-lighted kennels reduces animal stress." 

The shelter is located at 10961 Stevens Lane in Truckee. Shelter hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., (530) 582-7830. To make arrangement to see and interact with adoptable animals, contact the Humane Society at (530) 587-5948. Visit the Town of Truckee’s Animal Services website or the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.