Carson City Manager: Animal Services policies "need to change" after controversial euthanization

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KRNV & -- A Carson City woman's dog was recovered by animal services and put down because she couldn't afford to pay the fees to reclaim it within 72 hours. People across northern Nevada, and all around the world, are speaking out against the decision that they're calling inhumane.

News 4 spoke with two women who nearly lost their dogs the same way who want to see Carson City Animal Services change its policies. City officials said that change will happen very soon.

"They treat people so immorally and inhumanely and cruel," Rebecca McBean said.

McBean found 9-year-old chihuahua Coco and took care of her for seven weeks before the owners tried to reclaim her. She said animal services told her to bring the dog in to be returned, but then the owners couldn't pay the fees to take her home.

McBean said she barely raised the money in time to avoid Coco being put down.

"They wanted $160 for me to get a dog back that I had already had," McBean said. "They had her for two days."

Erin Wright's 15-year-old chihuahua Mama ran away during a thunderstorm this spring. Wright nearly lost her because she couldn't pay the fees within the window.

"They asked me when my payday was," Wright said. "I told them I get paid every Friday, and so they just told me that I had to come in on Friday, if not the dog would be put down."

"They're more interested in getting their money than reuniting the families," McBean said.

City Manager Larry Werner said animal services is operating within the law, but that doesn't mean these decisions were the right ones.

So they shut down animal services this week to evaluate the situation.

"We've got to figure out what's wrong," Werner said. "What's wrong with the system? Why did this happen and what can we do to correct this?"

McBean and Wright said they want to see big changes come from this.

"If it's someone's dog and they come, work a payment plan, work something," Wright said.

"Part of it is a training issue, but I think some of their policies need to change," McBean said.

Werner said it's a top priority for the city to fix this problem.

"We've had calls for the entire staff to be fired and that's just simply not going to happen, but we are going to try to find out why this happened and what we can do to prevent it in the future," Werner said.

Also, the city wants to ensure animal services gets back to its mission.

"Our first goal should be: return that dog to the owner, and it shouldn't be whether or not you have money," Werner said.

This story has been picked up by the Assocated Press, and at least one international media outlet. People from all across the country, and even Canada, are posting on the Carson City Animal Services Facebook page wall: some of the posts are calling people who work there "monsters" and "ignorant." Many posts are asking for all of the employees to either quit or be fired.

Werner said they'll be evaluating the policies the rest of this week and plan to implement changes on Monday.

Senator Ben Keickhefer is also looking into Nevada laws to see if he thinks anything needs to change on a state-wide level.