After record-setting ‘17, Rifle Animal Shelter looks to ‘18 | PostIndependent.com

After record-setting ‘17, Rifle Animal Shelter looks to ‘18

Rifle Animal Shelter Executive Director Heather Mullen takes out Phish who is available for adoption at the shelter.

With more animals adopted and vaccinated than ever before, the Rifle Animal Shelter continues to grow and expand its services each year.

Earlier this week, the shelter secured $150,000 from the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners. It was an item already set aside in the budget, indicating the county's unwavering support for an organization dedicated to protecting the area's homeless animal population.

"Your $150,000 will allow us to continue efforts that we are doing and allow us to expand services for the community," Rifle Animal Shelter Executive Director Heather Mullen told the commissioners at their Monday meeting.

In 2017, the shelter took in 1,570 animals, the most animals in a single year. A majority of those animals came from incorporated towns within Garfield County. In total, the shelter saw a record-breaking 1,232 animals adopted throughout the year.

"We are growing every day as more of a community resource. Our mission and goal is to provide care for homeless animals," she explained.

The funding from the county commissioners will help the shelter to expand its spade, neutering and vaccination service. Since 2014, the shelter has operated a low-cost spay/neuter/vaccination clinic for community owned animals, a service Garfield County citizens greatly appreciate.

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"Oftentimes there are people that can't afford the services, but they have 20 or more cats on their ranch that they need to get vaccinated," Mullen explained.

"I had only eight," Commissioner John Martin interjected.

"They are trying to do the right thing by not having them repopulate, but paying for the services is something they can't do," she continued. "This way we can use other funding to help pay for these services."

She went on to say that the service is also important in decreasing the chances of disease outbreak in the community.

Rifle Animal Shelter offers spay, neuter and vaccination services Monday through Thursday.

In 2017, the shelter altered 1,201 animals, a significant increase from 914 in 2016.

"We vaccinated over 1,000 animals in 2017 as it has become a resource the community is really appreciating," Mullen said. "We get about three to five calls per day to schedule appointments."

The average cost to care for a healthy animal until adoption is between $300 to $400, including spay and neutering, housing and medical care costs.

"The vet did a great job with my cats and they are all well behaved now," Martin said. "They did a great job, a lot of folks coming and going from that place."

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky moved to provide $150,000 to the Rifle Animal Shelter from the non-profit general fund, which was seconded by Samson.

"Keep up the good work," he added.

Look ahead to 2018

As its services continue to be valued by the county, the Rifle Animal Shelter looks ahead to 2018 with a big project on the horizon. After purchasing land for a new facility in 2016, the organization is at its final stages of funding with an additional $100,000 needed from the community.

"We need to pay for the architectural design and the goal is to get 1,000 people to make a $100 contribution each," Mullen said.

She added they are hoping to have funding raised by May and to start construction in 2019.

Across the street from the current facility, a new building will provide the shelter with better space to house the animals and welcome potential adopters.

"A new building will allow us to save more animals," Mullen said. "When we have more than one person looking to adopt, it can be difficult to find space in the current building."

2017 unincorporated garfield county shelter turn ins

GarCo Animal Control – 30 animals

Garfield County animals surrendered to the shelter – 230 animals

Stray animals found in Garfield County surrendered to shelter – 135 animals

Animals transferred in from other shelters – 391 animals