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Christine Robinson Executive Director, The Animal Foundation

The challenge: In early 2007, the Lied Animal Shelter was in crisis. The shelter — Nevada’s largest and operated by The Animal Foundation, a nonprofit — was forced to close for a week and euthanize 1,000 animals after a team visiting from the Humane Society of the United States discovered a disease outbreak caused in part by overcrowding. The Humane Society later released a scathing report detailing severe problems in management and animal care at the shelter, including shoddy disease control, poor sanitation and a lack of compassion shown to the animals. The shelter’s director resigned in the wake of the controversy. The solution: Robinson left a comfortable job as an assistant county manager to take the helm at the troubled north Mojave Road animal shelter, which takes in a staggering 50,000 animals each year. “I knew I could help, and I was so passionate about the mission,” Robinson says. She began by addressing every concern in the Humane Society’s 216page report, focusing first on providing the best animal care possible on the eight-acre campus. The shelter cleaned up, beefed up training for employees, and began vaccinating animals upon intake and housing them in their own cages. Sick animals were quickly quarantined.

Next, Robinson approached the three jurisdictions with which Lied contracts for animal shelter services — Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Clark County — to fix an ongoing money problem. “The operations of this organization were woefully underfunded,” Robinson says. “I told them I couldn’t operate at a loss in providing services they are mandated to provide.” She succeeded in getting the contracts renegotiated, a move that brought in an additional $2 million per year. (The shelter’s annual budget is $8 million.) Robinson also built a shelter leadership team with more experience in animal services — and some business sense too. “It takes more than passion to be effective and provide quality care for animals,” she says. Today, Robinson is concentrating on the shelter’s future and a recently launched capital campaign to raise money for campus renovations and a new building to house the adoption center, education area and administrative offices. “We could run in maintenance mode forever, but that’s not OK with me,” she says. “Unlike so many other social problems, we have the answers for this one. That is so encouraging and provides such hope.” ( — Lynnette Curtis | 55

Desert Companion - November 2012  
Desert Companion - November 2012  

Your guide to living in southern Nevada