Maddie's Pet Project

Saving Lives at Washoe County’s Largest Nonprofit Animal Shelter: An Interview with Greg Hall of Nevada Humane Society

By Bonney Brown

Greg Hall recently took the helm of Nevada Humane Society (NHS) as its CEO. I had a chance to catch up with him and ask him about his goals and plans.

Bonney Brown: What led you to get into the field of animal sheltering and welfare?
Greg Hall: Like many Nevada natives, I grew up around animals and they were an integral part of our family. We lived in Washoe Valley and had dogs, cats, chickens, horses and pigs. Animals were our constant companions. As an adult, I have rescued a number of pets and five years ago, I joined the Board of Directors for NHS. I have been very interested in the dynamic nature of sheltering, the proliferation of no-kill sheltering and innovative changes we’ve seen in Reno and around the country.

BB: What do you like most about your job?
GH: Of course the animals are wonderful to see on a daily basis, but I most enjoy working with countless people that are passionate about animals. On any given day, I’m able to interact with dozens of employees, donors and industry colleagues that have an unbridled passion and energy for saving animal lives. It’s very uplifting.

BB: Tell me about your first pet?
GH: My first pet outside of growing up was a cat named August—Gus for short—who was adopted from Denver Dumb Friends League when I was in law school at the University of Denver. He was almost adopted by another couple ahead of me but they passed because he had a club paw. He was the greatest little guy and lived over twenty years despite having chronic kidney disease.

BB: What other pets do you have at home (now or in recent past)?
GH: My first adopted dog named Keeley was a Belgian Malinois/Husky mix. She passed away after a bout with cancer. I adopted a border collie mix named Zain that was a bundle of energy, along with her adopted brother Kai, a Husky/Shepherd mix that is still my best buddy. He’s 13 ½ now, so he’s slowing down. I have adopted several other cats, including a stray Russian Blue named Sizi who is now 16.

BB: What, in your own words is the mission of NHS?
GH: Our mission at NHS is very simple on one level—to save pet lives and find them good homes. On another level, our mission is very far-reaching, given all of the ways that pets touch our lives. Our organization has numerous programs, ranging from vaccinations and spay/neuter to bunny yoga. NHS is also committed to education opportunities for pet owners and building relationships within our communities.

BB: What are your plans for NHS?
GH: NHS has been an innovator within the animal welfare community for many years. Our organization is also blessed with tremendous support from our community, ranging from Reno/Sparks to Carson City and now outlying rural areas. Our goal is to be the best shelter we can be and lead the charge in developing new and creative solutions for life-saving and quality of care for animals, while not forgetting that saving a pet’s life is the primary goal. Every day we are able to identify areas of improvement for our organization and our plan is to make our shelters and programs better step-by-step.

BB: What is your vision for the animals of the community?
GH: NHS’s goal is to assist in creating no-kill communities statewide, consistent with the goals of Maddie’s Pet Project in Nevada. As more animals have been saved and adopted, NHS is able to also save pets from neighboring communities and increase the quality of life for animals with health problems and other challenges that make adoption more challenging. We have seen that every animal can find a home—it’s just a matter of identifying a fit and making it happen. That often takes more effort and resources but the results are fantastic.

BB: What are the most pressing needs you see for animals in our community?
GH: Our most pressing need is to ensure our community’s pets are healthy and able to find safe and comfortable homes quickly and efficiently with minimal stress to the animals. It is a constant challenge. Spay and neuter not only keeps animal populations in check, but has health benefits for the animals as well. We have also seen great gains in reducing feral cat populations by implementing trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs in the community and the need to continue such programs is vital. There is also a distinct need for affordable veterinary services for pet owners and we will continue to work with private veterinary clinics in the community to ensure that all pet owners have access to animal care. Education and training opportunities for pet owners and their animals is also a pressing need.

BB: How can people help?
GH: NHS is dependent upon donations from the public to serve the animals. People may also donate in-kind items, including pet food, blankets, and toys. We just completed a cat food drive and the generosity of the community was remarkable. Our organization is also reliant on a fantastic corps of volunteers, who donate their time. If you like to volunteer time—anything from walking dogs to assisting with events, we encourage you to contact us. If people can’t help directly, we appreciate spreading the word about our mission to friends and family. The number of people that touch our organization is amazing.

Bonney Brown is co-executive director of Maddie’s Pet Project in Nevada and president of Humane Network. You can reach Bonney at bbrown@humanenetwork.org. Greg Hall is the CEO of Nevada Humane Society www.nevadahumanesociety.org

Caption: Greg Hall of Nevada Humane Society attends a spay/neuter clinic in Wadsworth.

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