ANIMAL SHELTER: Lied ending its 'low-kill' policy; after 72 hours, animals will be euthanized .
Lied Animal Shelter officials said Wednesday that they will end the facility's "low-kill" policy, which they said had led to overcrowded and diseased conditions. Since last week, the shelter has euthanized 1,000 cats and dogs that had highly contagious diseases.
"Our policies were written to save every animal we possibly could," said a weeping Janie Greenspun Gale, chairwoman of the board of the Animal Foundation, the private nonprofit group that operates Lied. "In that misguided policy, we caused animals pain."
Greenspun Gale said the shelter will adopt a policy toward keeping animals for only 72 hours. Its current low-kill policy is to keep animals for 120 days before euthanizing them.
"We're not a hotel for pets," she said.
Greenspun Gale, with elected officials and Lied administrators, spoke to animal rights supporters Wednesday evening to address what some called a "state of emergency" at the regional pound.
Lied was closed briefly last week after veterinarians from the Humane Society of the United States inspecting the facility discovered an outbreak of several diseases in cats and dogs. Roughly 800 cats and dogs at the facility have not been euthanized.
The shelter is now accepting stray cats and dogs, but not animals that pet owners want to leave at the facility.
Pet owners who come to the facility to get rid of their pets are being told that if they do so, their pet will be euthanized, not adopted, Lied spokesman Mark Fierro said.
He said the facility is encouraging owners to keep their pets until the shelter fully reopens, possibly by Friday. They're also directing owners to private rescue organizations that might be able to assist them.
Greenspun Gale said overcrowding at the facility helped the spread of distemper and Parvovirus in dogs and panleukopenia in cats.
The 11-year-old shelter, which has contracted with Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas, also has used vaccines and immunizations that were ineffective, Greenspun Gale said. The vaccines utilized dead viruses and took up to 10 days to become effective.
Lied has frequently been overcrowded because of its policy of keeping animals longer in hopes they will be adopted.
"Humane sheltering is a very new movement," Greenspun Gale said. "We have been flying by the seat of our pants."
The facility doesn't keep any of the roughly 7,000 animals it sees each year if they run out of space at its animal Karen Layne, president of the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society, said Lied's policy as a low-kill facility "was a mirage" that led residents to believe it was OK for their dogs and cats to have offspring.
Layne said people dropped off pets at the animal shelter because they had the false belief that those pets were certain to be adopted.
"I would hope that we would be more honest with the population," Layne said.But city and county officials didn't want to start placing blame with Lied administrators. They said ultimate blame rests with pet owners who don't spay or neuter their animals.