Las Vegas animal shelter issues urgent plea for fosters after employee walkout, staffing shortage

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The Animal Foundation on Monday sent out an urgent plea for people to foster animals amid a staffing shortage. It comes after several employees suddenly resigned and walked out of their jobs on Sunday, alleging poor working conditions.

According to a statement from the Animal Foundation, in September alone, its staff “has felt the pressure that comes with taking in over 2,000 animals that have arrived at our doorstep, all needing shelter and care.” The group added that “150 of those animals have come in over the last two days.”

The shelter said in the post that it’s capacity is at “a critical point.” Adding that it is in “desperate need to free up space in the shelter for the animals with the most advanced needs.”

The aforementioned walkout by employees resulted in the temporary closure of the Lost & Found section of the Animal Foundation Sunday.

“On Sunday, several members of our intake team unexpectedly resigned. So we had to close down our lost and found lobby. It was temporary,” said the shelter’s spokesperson Kelsey Pizzi.

That office is now back open, but FOX5 got in touch with one of those fed up employees.

While she preferred not to share her name, we did verify that she is in fact an employee with the Animal Foundation.

She said, “We have asked for changes more times than we can count and were never heard. The wages we currently make are extremely low for the labor-intensive work we endure on a daily basis and the very few times raises were offered, were insultingly low as well. While most of the staff leave when their shift ends (as they should), we are basically forced to stay hours past our shift to make sure Animal Control has sufficient kennel space and to make sure the animals are probably cared for until the next shift comes in. We have reached a breaking point and we will not return until we are assured things will change for the better of all the people inside The Animal Foundation who stay for the animals and for all the animals who have suffered and continue to suffer without change,” said the employee.

FOX5 asked Animal Foundation CEO Hilarie Grey for her response to these claims at a media conference hosted Monday afternoon.

“Yes, wages are an issue, our board and we are aware of that and want to look at it holistically. Um, in the past, ya know, some of those things have been not looked at in a systemic way, and we’re committed to looking at all of it– all of the things that make up a good working environment for our employees,” said Grey.

She added that these employees are dealing with more than ever before: “a 48 percent increase in intakes over the last two years,” said Grey.

She said she is having daily conversations about changes that can be made to lighten their load, such as scanning for microchips out in the field.

“There are some ordinance changes and things that we can look at. The most important thing that we can do today, is to encourage and resource our animal protection services partners to return to owner in the field. That’s going to make a huge difference,” said Grey.

Grey added, “I really do regret– I really, personally, am very heartbroken that they felt that that was their last recourse.”

The panel here at Monday’s media conference described one of the reasons for the uptick in animal intake as the tough times the valley is facing, economically, with such high inflation. The shelters leaders said that they feel this has caused more people to surrender their pets due to their lack of ability to afford necessary care.

But they want to remind you to seek alternatives to surrendering. The Animal Foundation also offers free pet food from their pantry, by appointment only. In the past, they have also hosted walk-in hours for this pantry. Learn more here.

It is also worth noting that the employees’ sudden resignation came weeks after Las Vegas City Council member Victoria Seaman made a surprise inspection at the Animal Foundation and shared photos of unsanitary conditions at the facility.

Please visit this website to learn how to foster a pet.

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