Maddie's Pet Project

Scholarships help Nevadans attend national Animal Care Expo

Thirteen leaders from eight Nevada organizations attended the 2018 Animal Care Expo in Kansas City, thanks to scholarships from Maddie's® Pet Project in Nevada that covered registration fees, airfare, and hotel costs.

One of the project's goals is to cultivate new leaders and to support future ones in Nevada animal welfare, whether they are at a nonprofit shelter, a government animal services agency, or a rescue or other organization supporting cats and dogs.

The expo put on by the Humane Society of the United States was an opportunity to learn or get a refresher on best practices, to meet others working in animal welfare from around the world (more than 40 countries were represented), and to get re-inspired.

Here are what a few of the scholarship attendees said they would bring back with them to Nevada:

Andrew Hayes, Ely animal control officer: “Before I came to the expo, I didn’t know which direction to take the animal control facility. A lot of my questions have been answered. I now know where to take the facility. I know which programs I want to start, and I made contacts with who may be able to help me get grants to start the programs to get the facility more up to date.”

Kathy Jung, president of Nevada SPCA in Las Vegas: “We learned that we’re not the only ones. We thought we were going to come here and be shelter shamed, but we realized there are so many others that struggle with the same things we do. On the other side, there are things we excel in that we helped people with, and there’s stuff that they excel in that they could help us with. ... The expo opened our eyes to what’s possible.”

Meadow Stahl, president of Animal House Shelter & Sanctuary in Elko: “I have given presentations to various service groups where the words have come out of my mouth that if a person couldn't afford an animal, they shouldn't have one. My eyes have been opened to the fact that that’s really [messed] up. I'm hoping I can line up more speeches with these groups so I can correct the record.”

Ellen Arntz, board president of Desert Haven Animal Society in Pahrump: “I found it very interesting when we went to visit Great Plains SPCA. It gave us a better feel for how we can use the limited space that we’re in.”

Jill Vacchina Dobbs, executive director of the SPCA of Northern Nevada: “[Being positive is] something I'm always really stringent about – that we’re talking about our rural partners as partners and that we’re not disparaging them and we’re not trying to make them the bad guy. I'm always on our marketing team: ‘No, change that language. You're being negative, you're trying to make us better than somebody else, and we’re all working together as partners.’ Hearing that same thing from multiple speakers was really fantastic because I get some pushback: ‘But that’s our fundraising strategy.’ Well, then we’re changing it. … I think it’s so important to be talking positively about each other.”

CAPTION: Nevada animal welfare leaders attend the 2018 HSUS Animal Care Expo in Kansas City.