County putting off new animal shelter for one to two years
An over-crowded animal shelter in Garfield County may not get relief for another two years. County Sheriff Lou Vallario told the county commissioners Monday that over-crowding has become such an issue at Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE), a private adoption center for dogs and cats which also acts as the county dog pound, that a new shelter can’t come soon enough.”We are pretty much burying CARE with unclaimed animals we pick up in the county,” Vallario said. CARE “is in crisis mode now,” he added.”We’re to the point where we’re putting dogs in the bathroom,” said CARE director Leslie Rockey. “We have no more room.”Such crowding can cause stress and disease in the dogs, she added.But a new shelter that will take some of the burden off CARE is not likely to be built until at least 2007, if not in 2008.A new shelter was scheduled for this year and the county set aside $2 million for its construction. However, the shelter will have to stand in line for construction until new community corrections and justice buildings are completed.Because of the situation at CARE, Vallario notified his patrol and animal control officers that no more stray dogs can be picked up.In a letter to the county commissioners last week, Vallario said, ‘In order to meet the problem of over-capacity, I will be directing Animal Control and Patrol to respond in a ‘complaint only’ mode. That is, no dogs will be picked up unless we receive a complaint (excluding emergency issues).”Further complicating the issue is the probable location of the shelter. The city of Rifle has said it will donate land at the former Union Carbide uranium mill west of the city. But Rifle estimates it will cost about $1 million to bring utilities to the site, a cost the county does not want to shoulder. Now, Vallario said, the city is thinking about relocating its municipal operations center to the site and would therefore extend utilities, which could work out well for the county.Vallario said he is planning to enlist county municipalities to help with the annual cost of operating the shelter.Commissioner Larry McCown also pointed out that a new county animal shelter will not be run like CARE.”We will probably have to take a look at some type of closure with (unclaimed animals) that they are picked up by CARE or euthanized,” he said.CARE’s policy is to make every effort to adopt out unclaimed dogs. Although it is not a “no kill” shelter, it resorts to that recourse only with dogs having extreme behavior problems that make them unable to be adopted.Vallario agreed that euthanasia will have to be considered at the new shelter. “The Garfield County shelter will have to warehouse animals,” he said. “We all realize that we are gong to have to control the population through euthanasia.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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