At any given time, there are dozens of dogs and cats in the Clark County Animal Shelter.
Some are strays. Some were birthday or holiday presents that became too much for families. Some were surrendered as their owners couldn’t care for them anymore, whether because of health issues or relocation.
The vast majority of the animals will find another home, thanks to the efforts of the shelter staff and director Adreanna Wills.
A Clark County native and life-long resident, Wills became the shelter director three years ago.
“I started (college) with the intent of going to veterinarian school,” she said. “Life happens and things change and that landed me here.”
Her love of animals started when she was young, living in rural Clark County with her family.
“There were barn cats that would come up to the house and I’d play with them,” she said. “We had a dog when I was little. We always had some kind of pet. Most of them found us. If they showed up, they were going to be fed and they would be taken care of.”
That is the concept for the county’s shelter as well.
As an open-intake facility, no animals are turned away.
“They will have a bed, they will have full bellies and they will be cared for,” she said.
During her three years as shelter director, Wills has brought a lot of tasks previously performed by other animal groups back in-house. Wills had already spent six years working at a veterinarian’s office, then started working with another animal group following the birth of her children.
“When this position came open, it was like it fell into place,” she said. “Some of the people in the shelter could do some of that work without a third party” such as taking photos of the animals or handling some of the placements.
That is not to say the other groups aren’t needed.
“At times, we’re just overwhelmed,” she said. “Sometimes, I can call one (group) and ask if they can come out and help catch up on photos or laundry.”
Wills has also helped build a staff that truly cares for the animals.
“We have animals come in that are scared to death,” she said. “Their world has been turned upside down. (The staff) has to be patient and recognize those things.”
The hardest days are those when the decision has to be made to euthanize an animal.
“We get attached to the animals,” she said. “Sometimes, they really bond to us, but not to visitors coming through. We all want what is best for the animals coming through our facility.
“Sometimes, even though we can see past the hurt and scars … the best thing we can do is make that decision. Sometimes there’s not enough room for all the animals that need help.”
Any time an animal gets a new home, though, is a win. More than 97 percent of all dogs who enter the shelter are eventually adopted, Wills said. The numbers are lower with cats, partly because there are more. Female cats can have two litters of kittens a year and “repopulate the world,” she said.
Wills and her staff care for the animals and instill a little trust that not all humans are bad, which can make a huge difference in a pet.
“One of the most rewarding things is seeing an animal come through the door with its spirit broken … and see them run, greet people and be happy,” she said. “You can’t get any better than that.” §