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Shelter’s love story true animal attraction

I don't know how she does it. Day in and day out, practically seven days a week for the past six months, Ann Inabnitt takes care of Boulder City's lost, stray, abused and abandoned animals.

I know I have a soft spot for animals, but her heart must be as big as the universe. It would be hard for me to look into those puppy dog and kitty cat eyes every day and not want to bring one or two new friends home. Just visiting the Boulder City Animal Shelter was hard enough.

I guess the shelter's high adoption rate makes it a bit easier. And you can credit Ann with most of that.

She treats every animal that comes into the shelter as a pet. Her reasoning: If you treat them like pets, they will know how to behave like pets.

"I brush them, love on them, give them treats," she said.

Low adoption fees help, too. If neutered or spayed, adoption fees are $8. The maximum fee is $46 for cats and $66 for dogs, and that includes a certificate to take the animal to a nearby veterinarian for spaying or neutering.

You can't even buy lunch for for that, let alone a new pet that will love you forever.

Averaging about 600 animals a year, Boulder City Animal Shelter adopts roughly 90 percent of them. It's something Ann is quite proud of. And with good reason. Rarely does an animal have to be euthanized. Because a majority of the animals at the shelter can find new forever homes fairly quickly, she said they usually can hang on to the others until a new owner can be found.

"All I need is one person."

Promoted to supervisor of the animal shelter six months ago, she starts her day at 3:45 a.m. In addition to fielding an assortment of animal-related calls that come into the city/police department, Ann mops the shelter twice a day, takes care of all temporary residents living there, and makes sure the animals gets some play time, if possible.

"I work a lot, but I like it," she said.

Just last week she had 140 calls answering people's questions, looking for runaway dogs, and dealing with snakes or sheep where they don't belong.

"Snakes are easy," she said when referring to the challenges of dealing with the assortment of animals she encounters. "Every one of 'em will bite you. Dogs are quite tricky. They seem friendly then they turn around and bite you."

Her menagerie includes several cats, a few dogs, four parakeets and a tank full of fish.

On occasion, she's tended to a horse and an iguana.

Ann said the iguana was the biggest one she had ever seen. She met the reptile after getting a call from police saying it was loose in a house.

"My job was to go find the iguana."

Fortunately, she said it was a nice iguana and he was adopted within 24 hours.

Ann began her love affair with animals in 1997. Her pet poodle became diabetic and she was "living at the animal clinic."

She was living in Bloomington, Ind., and the veterinarian asked if she wanted to work there. She did. Later she became a veterinary technician and eventually accepted a position as the operations manager for laboratory animal resources at Indiana University.

After her late husband was transferred to the Las Vegas area, she followed and began working at a Las Vegas kennel. Two-and-a-half years ago, she "fell into" her position in Boulder City.

Her promotion to supervisor of the shelter came after the person previously holding the position left. Since that time, she's been fielding all the calls and running the shelter pretty much on her own.

Help is on the way. She will be getting an assistant and a kennel supervisor, as well as creating an "army of volunteers."

Not only does she love her job and the critters she cares for, Ann had a deep love for Boulder City.

"It's the most beautiful place in the world," she said.

Her love extends to the city's residents as well. She has several "angels" who make regular donations to the shelter. Anything that she cannot use is "recycled" as a gift for those who adopt a new pet or given to neighboring shelters.

If the animals at the shelter could talk, I'm sure they would call Ann their angel. But I'm pretty confident she knows how they feel. You can see it in their eyes.

— Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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