County cutting funding for CARE

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Colorado Animal Rescue will receive $125,000 less in funding than it is asking for from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.County officials acknowledge that’s a sizable cut, but say it’s made necessary because the county’s animal shelter needs exceed CARE’s ability to meet them.

Sheriff Lou Vallario said the problem is that CARE’s facility isn’t large enough to accept all the animals his office takes in.”I’ve always supported them. They’re not really designed to be a county animal shelter. They’re constantly at capacity because of us,” Vallario said.CARE director Leslie Rockey confirmed that the shelter, located in Spring Valley near Glenwood Springs, is constantly full because of a big animal problem in the county. She said she couldn’t comment on the funding issue because she hasn’t heard any details yet from the county.Vallario said the county gave CARE $250,000 this year, and it asked for $275,000 for next year. However, the county plans to give it $150,000, and Vallario expects to spend the difference pursuing other avenues for dealing with problem animals.He said a big part of the plan is to contract with the Divide Creek Animal Hospital in Silt for the use of some kennels it is putting in. More money also may be invested in spaying and neutering programs, he said.Vallario also plans to hire a second animal control officer, using funding from one of the open jail deputy positions he has been unable to fill.

County Commissioner Trési Houpt worried at Monday’s commission meeting about how the county’s diversion of funding might be received by CARE. She called the change “a huge cut” for CARE and wondered whether the organization would be able to remain viable.But Vallario noted that the county commissioners provide grant support to other nonprofit organizations. He suggested they could consider doing the same for CARE, outside of its contract with the sheriff’s office.”That’s an issue for you all to bring up, how much you want to support CARE,” Vallario told commissioners.Vallario also hopes to see the county build an animal shelter. But he said it has looked at doing so for five years now, and every time it revisits the issue the price goes up.The latest estimate is $4 million, he said. He said commissioners have asked him to come back next year with a proposal for a bare-bones shelter that eliminates things such as veterinary rooms and adoption facilities. Rather, it would focus on returning animals to their owners, handing them over to CARE or putting them down, he said.

Rockey said CARE supports the county building its own shelter “because we cannot keep up with the amount of animals that they’re bringing in.”Vallario said most sheriff’s offices in Colorado don’t deal with animal control, but he felt it was the right thing for his office to do. However, he fears that it’s reflecting negatively on his office.”At some point here, we’re going to say, look, we’re either going to do it right or not do it at all,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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