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Gimme shelter

Donna Gray

Costs are going up for sheltering stray dogs and cats. Monday, the Garfield County Commissioners learned Colorado Animal Rescue is requesting $130,000 to house stray animals the county picks up next year.Only $75,000 is budgeted for CARE in 2005, said county manager Ed Green.In a letter to the commissioners, CARE director Leslie Rockey said costs are growing with the burgeoning population of strays at the shelter.County Sheriff Lou Vallario, who brought the issue to the commissioners Monday, posed the question: Given rising costs, should the county pay the increased cost of care or should it build a shelter?Commissioner Larry McCown said an animal shelter is needed on the west side of the county. Vallario agreed, adding that 80 percent of the stray dogs picked up by the county are from the west side.Key to funding the project will be partnering with the city of Rifle, which operates its own shelter, McCown said.”That would be the doggie jail for Garfield County,” McCown said. “CARE could be the adoptive entity.”CARE also urged the commissioners to consider building a shelter in western Garfield County.In a letter to the commissioners, Rockey outlined reasons why it makes sense.”The reclaim rate of dogs from the city of Glenwood Springs is approximately 2/3, whereas less than 1/3 of county dogs are reclaimed,” she wrote. “CARE’s location at the east end of the county make it much less likely that owners will look for and find their lost pets at CARE.”Transportation costs are also prohibitive, she added.”We can easily envision serving the eastern part of the county as we do now, once there is a facility for western or central Garfield County,” Rockey wrote.Green said he’d looked into the cost of building a shelter. He said it would cost $450,000 for six or eight kennel units, and $600,000 for 20 units.But Vallario said the county would need at least 35 to 40 kennel units and the ability to add on. CARE has about that number of kennels now, he said.”There isn’t a county around us that doesn’t have its own facility and more than one animal control officer,” Vallario added.The commissioners did not take action on the CARE request Monday but asked Vallario to come up with a plan for a new shelter and directed him to have CARE bill the county monthly.McCown also cautioned, “There may come a time when an animal shelter becomes too cost-prohibitive.””I would have to wear a bulletproof vest if I had to tell people that,” Vallario quipped.”I would have to wear a bulletproof vest if I had to tell people that,” Vallario quipped.


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