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News 2000

SSSNP in the Press

Nevada Appeal

Article published December 16, 2000

Planning Commission reaffirms support of dog rescue activists

by Nancy Dallas, Appeal staff writer

Carson SILVER SPRINGS - Owners of an animal rescue facility this week received their second vote of confidence in two months from county officials.

On Nov. 18, just days after the Lyon County Planning Commission refused to pursue an animal nuisance complaint and renewed the annual special use permit for the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project, Tom and Lee Blomquist were presented a second citation from the Animal Control Department. Adjacent neighbor Linda Riley initiated both complaints.

Appearing at Tuesday's planning meeting, Riley said the dogs begin barking at 10 p.m. every night and are disrupting her ability to sleep.

"I get no sleep at all. The dogs bark very loudly. I don't believe they (Blomquist's) are at home," she told the board. "I do have the home up for sale. I can't even bring my elderly parent to the home to care for because the dogs are barking every night. He is doing a wonderful thing, but does it need to be downtown?"

The Blomquists claim Riley is exaggerating the situation and the project has the support of the community. They have also charged that animal control officers are harassing them. County Commissioner Chet Hillyard and several Silver Springs residents have submitted letters in support of that belief.

"Only three of the dogs are out at night, the rest sleep in the house. I work days and am home evenings. Tom is home during the day," Lee Blomquist said. "They (Rileys) knew we were here when they bought the house. The prior owners even gave us letters of support when they lived there. When the audience was polled at the recent town advisory board meeting, no one spoke against us."

Upon being notified by the Blomquists of the second citation, Deputy District Attorney Leon Aberasturi told Animal Control officers not to file the court copy of the citation. And since the Blomquists operate under a special use permit, he also instructed Animal Control to forward all future reports concerning the dogs to the planning commission.

Noting the number of supportive letters, Tom Blomquist told the board, "These letters are from people we hate to have to bother. Many are elderly and ill." He claimed some of those writing in opposition were tricked and forced into writing their letters.

Writing in support, Bob and Vanessa Stuart pointed out that the Blomquist property is fully fenced and, "on the front in full view of the road is a sign advertising your community service project. This sign was on your fence long before the Rileys purchased their property."

Planning Commissioner Jan Hunewill suggested several mitigation possibilities, including keeping all the dogs inside at night and debarking. "It would be good if you could move. You do good things."

Making the motion to renew the special permit, Commissioner Ray Johnson noted the community has its fair share of barking dogs.

"Eliminating the Blomquists is not going to stop barking dogs. I'm sorry, but I do not see a compromise here."

The motion passed 6-1.

Tom Blomquist said it is their goal to move from the one-third acre residential site on Fort Churchill Street to a five-acre site outside of the community.

"We are taking no new dogs. I have five jobs. I'm trying to come up with the money to move. We have the property. The well is in."

Commenting following the meeting, Tom said that goal is getting closer, with financing for a 130-foot by 80-foot commercial building on the horizon.

Nevada Appeal

Article published November 19, 2000

Animal rescue activist charges harassment

by Nancy Dallas, Appeal staff writer

Carson SILVER SPRINGS - Operators of an animal rescue facility claim they have been the object of ongoing harassment by county animal control personnel.

Tom Blomquist, co-founder with his wife, Lee, of the Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project, said he believes his questioning of department policies led to the recent filing of nuisance complaints against his facility by a neighbor and by animal control officers.

Appearing before the Lyon County Planning Commission to answer a complaint against his permit to operate, Blomquist said animal control officials "have decided to go after us. I am tired of fighting an uphill battle against county employees trying to take the law into their own hands."

The not-for-profit Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project is located at the Blomquist home on Fort Churchill Street. Founded to promote the spaying and neutering of pets as an alternative means of animal control, the facility has operated under a special use permit since 1997. Their current population of 20 dogs consists of animals over the age of 10, special needs dogs and dogs on daily medications.

Blomquist charged animal control officers have illegally required spay/neuter deposits for dogs over 4 months old, mandated spay/neutering of dogs under four months, have not keep any records of deposit transactions and have illegally mandated that all checks be made out to ABC Clinic in Carson City.

According to state statute, animal control releasing agencies must establish spay/neuter deposit accounts at a financial institution. Refundable deposits are required from those adopting dogs under 4 months of age.

"State law says dogs over 4 months must be spayed/neutered by the shelter before they can be adopted. Veterinarians recommend they not be fixed before this age. Deposits may only be collected on those under 4 months to assure those adopting them will get them fixed when they are old enough," Blomquist said.

"I find it strange that one day after the Sept. 14 Animal Control Board meeting, where I challenged animal control personnel regarding their deviations from the law and asked where the paperwork for non-refunded deposits is, I was presented with a citation."

According to Blomquist, the complainants moved into the home well after his project was established and his kennels are in obvious view from the second story of the home.

The citations were dismissed by the Lyon District Attorney's Office.

Addressing the issue in a letter to the Planning Commission, County Commissioner Chet Hillyard said, "It appears the Blomquists are being harassed by complainants who seem to be motivated by animal control officers. I have been the resident commissioner since the beginning of their special use permit and have not received one complaint against them."

County Commissioner Bob Milz told the board, "I think there is harassment coming from animal control. They have to treat all complaints the same. This is why we established a separate animal control division."

Lyon County commissioners created an Animal Services Division in August, removing animal control from under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's department. Lyon County Manager Stephen Snyder is temporarily serving as Animal Services director until the position is filled. He said the job description is being re-evaluated and should be advertised by next week.

After reading of several letters of support and hearing testimony in support of the Blomquists' efforts, the planning commission unanimously approved renewing their special use permit for another year.

Commenting after the meeting, Snyder said he is aware of Blomquist's concerns.

"I have met with animal control staff and they are also aware of the concerns," Snyder said. "I have not been able to substantiate the charges regarding the violation of state statutes; however, there are changes in the works and in the organizational structure. Based on today's testimony, I will continue to look into the charges of harassment."

Snyder said, to his knowledge, the recent complaint, instigated by the owners of the home adjacent to the Blomquists, is the only one the county has ever received regarding the spay/neuter project.

Nevada Appeal

Time to deal seriously with attacks on pets

TOM BLOMQUIST, Silver Springs
May 13, 2002
It breaks my heart to read of the poisoning of Tartan in Carson City.

Even if this sick person is caught, it is still just a misdemeanor in Nevada (NRS 584.150 No. 2).

I believe a person can attack another person or family with the terrorizing act of killing their pet, either in the cowardly act of secret poison or in the case of the Incline woman in California whose pet was killed in an act of road rage.

Further, I believe the Carson City Sheriff's Department should be investigating this act as a crime against the family who lost their friend. I would have the bait checked for antifreeze as it is a common poison used on hot dogs in cases like this.

It is time to make such crimes against families and their pets a felony and treated as such as police departments and the district attorney's office. This will not bring Christine Johnson's dog back, but it might catch and punish the coward responsible.


Nevada Appeal

Article published March 3, 2000

Letter: Silver Springs Spay/Neuter program

by J. James

As one of the many recipients of assistance from Silver Springs Spay/Neuter Program, I was pleased to read Nancy Dallas' front page coverage of its organization in the Nevada Appeal of Feb. 19. The founders, Tom and Lee Bloomquist, were also highlighted in this interesting article.

This project evolved from the untimely death of their beloved flat-coated retriever, Truckee, and is a living tribute to his spirit. Through the Internet, they have been able to place a rescued cat and dog in good homes for me. They covered the cost of neutering another one of my rescued, pound-bound dogs.

Tom and Lee are an intelligent, hard-working couple, who not only devote their time and effort to this cause, but also their incomes. But like Blanche in "A Street Car Named Desire," they must depend upon the kindness of strangers.

Any donation to the Silver Springs Spay/Neuter project is tax-deductible. The donations go directly to the operations of this worthwhile community service. Enough donations of $5 or more can bring their dreams of expanding this facility to reality.

For donations or information contact them at (775) 577-3518. The address is Box 403, Silver Springs 89429. The need is great, so thank you for your generosity and consideration.


Carson City

Nevada Appeal

Who will be in charge of Animal Control under contention

Nancy Dallas
May 13, 2002

YERINGTON - Moving animal control to another county department is the solution being proposed for stray pets in Lyon County, but the question of cost is still dogging county commissioners.

They put off a decision this week on moving dog-catching duties from the Sheriff's Department to the Public Works Department until the expenses are figured.

"I am reluctant to move in this direction today," said Commissioner David Fulstone. "I want to give it more time for discussion. I am not necessarily opposed, but I would like to see the costs involved in moving it."

Others believe it will make no difference where the operation is placed if the county does not provide additional funding to solve the problem of animals running loose in the growing county.

Sheriff Sid Smith and Public Works Director Dan O'Brien both said they would support whatever decision the commissioners make.

"It is the decision of the board and I will support whatever you decide. I don't disagree the shelter might be better off under a different department," Smith said.

The sheriff suggested dividing the responsibilities of running the shelter, which could go to Public Works, and enforcement, which he could keep under his jurisdiction.

"The individuals working in animal control have done a phenomenal job with what they have had to work with. I don't want to see these efforts go backward."

One difficulty in either department is finding enough money and people to do the job.

"It is a very emotional subject, " Smith said, "but quite honestly it is not at the top of my priority list. There are simply too many other crimes against people I must be concerned with."

With only four animal control officer positions to cover the 2,000-square-mile county on an everyday basis, Smith has strongly supported the establishment of private rescue shelters and encouraged more public participation in resolving animal control disputes.

"They (the officers) have very little time left over to patrol all areas on a regular basis," Smith said. "I suggest people talk with their neighbors about their concerns with barking dogs before filing complaints."

Lee Blomquist, director of the nonprofit Silver Springs Spay Neuter Clinic with her husband, Tom, supports moving animal control to another department or creating an independent agency.

"The most important element is it must be run by an animal control specialist and be properly funded," she said Friday. "If they don't look to the future and increase the budget, it won't matter where it is placed. We will still have the same situation."

Gardnerville resident and animal rescue activist Cherie Owen encouraged commissioners to move animal control away from the sheriff's department.

"With over 17,000 households in Lyon County, animal control is becoming a serious problem. It is an unfair position to put the sheriff's office in. I recommend you put it in its own department," she said.

During the past two years, residents' concerns regarding enforcement and conditions at the county's animal shelter in Silver Springs have been raised. Complaints include overcrowding of the animal holding facilities, euthanasia procedures, failure to make proper attempts to adopt stray dogs and lack of cat control ordinances.

As a direct result of these growing concerns, commissioners approved an Animal Control Advisory Board in September 1998. The five-member volunteer board is reviewing county animal control guidelines


Nevada Appeal

Article published February 19, 2000

Volunteers, activists help rescue unwanted animals

Nancy Dallas

News SILVER SPRINGS - Everything Tom and Lee Blomquist have done for the past 10 years has been dedicated to saving unwanted dogs and promoting low-cost animal spay and neutering programs.

Owners and directors of the nonprofit Silver Springs Spay-Neuter Project, the Blomquists generally house at least 20 dogs and a few cats at their Silver Springs residence, tending to each animal's particular and special needs.

They also have several dogs placed in foster care homes until permanent homes can be found.

Along with other animal rescue activists in Lyon County, they are dedicated caretakers for abandoned, abused, unwanted animals and want to see an end to euthanasia as a means of animal control.

Other licensed volunteer animal rescue facilities are the Animal Welfare Society in Silver Springs; Animal Rescue Foundation, Yerington; and the Carson/Eagle Valley Humane Society, Dayton.

They try to adopt out as many of their dogs as possible, but most end up becoming a permanent part of the Blomquist household.

"Several are just unplaceable," Tom explained. "Right now we have two that are blind, two diabetics and two suffering from hyperthyroidism."

Vinnie, an aging, blind golden retriever, ended up with the Blomquists on Thanksgiving Day. Noting the symptoms of diabetes, they had blood work done at Sierra Veterinary Clinic and brought him home for further care.

Vinnie weighed 66 pounds and could not walk up stairs the first week. He now weighs 100 pounds and gets around quite well and plays with the other dogs.

"Vinnie now has a fan club on the Internet and receives gifts and E-mail," Tom said. "We receive help from people on the Internet golden retriever list with the cost of needles and insulin. He will be with us forever ... he was our Thanksgiving."

Tom said they will be receiving a digital camera from the Humane Society of the United States and the National Association of Animal Control is sending them a computer to help them place their dogs for adoption.

"We will now have the capacity to photograph dogs and place them more effectively for adoption on a Web site," he said.

Lee is a member of the recently formed Lyon County Animal Control Board and is actively involved in the review of county animal control codes. She is at the animal care exposition in Las Vegas this weekend at her own expense, attending seminars on the writing of county codes, management of animal shelters and growth planning.

Working endless days, seven days a week caring for their charges, both Blomquists said "this is our work for the rest of our lives."