LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Step by step, animal rights advocates marched to call for significant change at the Animal Foundation, a publicly funded animal rescue shelter in Las Vegas, following revelations of poor conditions within the shelter reported in a multi-part months-long 13 Action News investigation.
13 Investigates revealed conditions inside that 17 current and former employees described as overcrowded, understaffed, and unsanitary.
Speaking before the march Saturday, North Las Vegas Mayor pro tem Richard Cherico said his tour of the facility was unacceptable.
"I couldn't imagine as I was walking through that thing how I would feel, or how I would tolerate, my own dog in there," he said.
Whistleblowers described operations in the Animal Foundation as a lack of cleaning, animals going without food and water for extended periods, and insufficient systems to track lost animals.
One family told 13 Investigates that their dog Ameer had been euthanized before they could connect with a representative to pick him up.
Bryce Henderson, president of No Kill Las Vegas, lead Saturday's rally.
"At this point it's become clear that they really can't run their shelter," Henderson said.
Henderson called for a top to bottom overhaul of shelter operations saying ground level workers have been trying their best to keep the animals safe, but it obviously hasn't worked.
"This is a shelter in free fall," he said. "It's in a complete crisis. Everyone is quitting. There used to be eight veterinarians, now there are zero."
The Animal Foundation has refused several requests for an on-camera interview and instead sent a statement saying, in part, that animal health and safety remain a top priority at the shelter and they're taking steps to improve procedures.
The facility acknowledged that a nationwide veterinary and labor shortage had impacted operations.
"Animals are dying because they're not getting proper care," Henderson said continuing to say they change hasn't come fast enough and calling on elected officials to step in.
"We want to take back our shelter," he said. "We want to have a say in our shelter is run, who's running it, and if not, let the county and the city start their own shelter."
Since the 13 Action News investigation began in June, both the CEO and COO of the Animal Foundation have agreed to step down.
Two members of the Las Vegas City Council, Stavros Anthony and Victoria Seaman, plan to instruct the city manager to open an investigation and audit of Animal Foundation operations at Wednesday's city council meeting.