CARE finds it’s raining cats and dogs |

CARE finds it’s raining cats and dogs

Post Independent Photo/Kelley CoxColorado Animal Rescue is overrun with homeless dogs and cats. Nelson, the chocolate lab, is just one of many lovable pooches looking for the right person to come and adopt him. Faye, the black lab mix, is one of the luckier ones and will be leaving the facility on Friday for a trial adoption.

The dog days of summer have Glenwood Springs’ only animal shelter bursting at the seams.”They’re not going out as quickly as they’re coming in,” said Leslie Rockey, director of the nonprofit Colorado Animal Rescue, the animal-holding facility for Glenwood and Garfield County. “Every kennel is full and some are doubled up. We don’t like to have dogs doubled up.”Since Garfield County began its animal control program in August 2003, the volume of dogs and cats in the shelter has exploded, Rockey said. CARE, a no-kill facility, has taken in 2,020 animals since it started in 2000, and since January 2004, 222 dogs and 300 cats have passed through. Currently, CARE employees and volunteers manage 24 dogs and 50 cats – well over their capacity, Rockey said. The shelter also keeps a waiting list just for people who want to give away their animals.On average, pet owners reclaim 40 percent of the stray animals picked up by Garfield County animal control, said Aimee Chappelle, animal control officer for the Garfield County Sheriff’s office. Chappelle removes stray animals from the unincorporated areas of Garfield County – Apple Tree, Cottonwood, Battlement Mesa, to name a few – where no animal control policy yet exists and dog licenses are not required. The homeless animals not reclaimed are evaluated for their ability to be adopted, and then spayed or neutered and vaccinated in preparation for going into their new home.But now, the inundated facility can’t place animals quickly enough.”Cats are taking over the shelter. This is our kitten season; this is when we are getting hit so hard,” Rockey said. To help ease the burden, CARE has a foster program where dogs or cats can stay with a temporary pet owner until their placement into a permanent home.Rifle resident Kathy Hall has acted as a foster pet owner to between 30 and 40 homeless cats since she began taking in animals for CARE a year and a half ago.Currently, Hall cares for 18 cats, most of those kittens, from the shelter. One 6-year-old black female, Frissy, “a Morris in a black cat suit” with a great personality, has particularly touched Hall, she said. “It brings me a great deal of pleasure to take in animal that I know doesn’t have a home and nurture and love it until it can be someone’s special baby,” said Hall, who owns three dogs and three cats of her own.Roughly 90 percent of the dogs that Chappelle picks up are not spayed or neutered, she said, making the surgery one of the easiest ways to prevent pet overpopulation in the valley – but one that many owners still don’t do. “We need to catch up to the times. It’s a big community and there’s a lot of variety of people who live here … and a lot of times animals just get left,” Rockey said.Indirectly, the higher housing costs in the region play a role, as some residents don’t have the extra money to spend on spaying or neutering their pet, Rockey said. To help offset these costs, CARE can give $25 to a pet owner for the surgery through a grant from the Pet Overpopulation Fund.”There’s a great call for animal services in this county,” Chappelle said. Since January, 1,900 calls have been placed regarding animal control issues in the county, all to Chappelle, the county’s one-person animal control unit. But some residents, such as Hall, contribute their own time to combating the pet overpopulation problem. The Street Cat Coalition, a group working to get cats off the streets and into homes, has four to five volunteers who trap feral cats, spay and neuter them, and if they cannot be domesticated, re-release them into the area they were found.As a volunteer for the coalition, Hall often takes in wild cats, but emphasizes she wouldn’t have to if people kept their pets indoors and spayed or neutered their animals.”The more that we can get off the street and take in and spay and neuter, the fewer we’ll have to worry about in future,” Hall said.Contact Christine Dell’Amore: 945-8515, ext. 535cdellamore@postindependent.comDog and Kitty BallCARE will host its annual fund-raiser, Putting on the Dog and Kitty Cat Ball on Aug. 7 from 5:30 to 10p.m. at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus.CARE always needs volunteers or foster pet-owners. For more information on the fund-raiser or volunteering contact Leslie Rockey, 947-9173. Aimee Chappelle assists with as many animal complaints as possible, and also speaks Spanish. Contact her at 625-8095. What residents can doNumber one is to spay and neuter your pet.Write your name and number in permanent marker on your pet’s collar.Adopting a dog from CARE costs $100, and includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, a leash, collar, a bag of food and a microchip. Cats cost $75 each and include everything above except for the leash.Adopting a dog from CARE costs $100, and includes spaying or neutering, vaccinations, a leash, collar, a bag of food and a microchip. Cats cost $75 each and include everything above except for the leash.

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