Rifle’s animal care center took in 300 strays last year, data shows

Morti the cat walks inside Rifle's Journey Home Animal Care Center on Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Now that Garfield County’s animal control program doesn’t exist, Rifle City Council requested in late December to see just exactly how many animals are being cared for by the city’s animal shelter. 

Numbers revealed last week by the city show the Rifle Police Department impounded 143 animals in 2022, which went under the care of Journey Home Animal Care Center. This accounts for $8,590 in impound fees.

Journey Home also did the following in 2022:

  • Sheltered and cared for 300 stray animals brought in by good samaritans in Rifle
  • Reunited 106 strays with their families
  • Sheltered and cared for 198 owner-surrendered animals
  • Spayed and neutered 307 community-owned animals
  • Vaccinated 396 community-owned animals

Journey Home Executive Director Heather Grant said on Monday that having these new sets of data gives the city, which allocates $71,781 to the animal care center annually, a better sense of its direction and how it’s benefiting the community. Journey Home also relies on grant funding from Garfield County.

“It just allows us, the community and the Rifle Police Department and Rifle City Council to see what we’re doing and how we’re spending the money they give us,” she said.

“I think it will allow us to put our focus on things like if our return-to-owner rate is going down.”

Valor, a transfer pet from New Mexico, licks his snout as Journey Home Animal Care Assistant Grace DiMarco takes him on a walk in front of the center Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Garfield County’s animal control program ended on Jan. 1, 2021 due to budget cuts. This meant Rifle’s Journey Home and Glenwood Springs’ Colorado Animal Rescue (CARE) would no longer receive payments for every stray or homeless pet coming from unincorporated Garfield County.

CARE’s 2022 impact report shows it served 729 animals: it reunited 120 strays with their owners, facilitated 427 pet adoptions, vaccinated 66 pets and more.

“We still are taking in a large number of animals from Garfield County,” Grant said. “It’s just the citizens that are now bringing them in.”

Stats from the RPD show Journey Home received six animals from outside of the area. There were 198 animals were surrendered to the shelter by their owners in 2022.

Grant said the biggest reason they take in surrenders is because people are moving and they can’t find another place that allows pets.

“Housing is huge,” Grant said. “Colorado as a state is an animal-safe place. But as far as pet-friendly housing, that’s a different topic.”

Rifle City Manager Tommy Klein said new data submitted from Journey Home shows the level of service they provide for Rifle residents and its significance.

Journey Home Animal Care Center Director of Development Kalli Wilson pets a cat Tuesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

“Not only just reuniting pets with their families, which is obviously very important, but taking care of owner-surrendered animals,” he said Tuesday. “It was much higher than I anticipated seeing, plus they provide veterinarian services.”

Journey Home — formally the Rifle Animal Shelter — itself opened up its new location in December 2021. It includes two large walk-in dog kennel hallways and outdoor kennel runs for overflow and animal quiet rooms.

It also has a large cat area with free-roaming cat rooms and an on-site vet clinic.

Journey Home is right now preparing for a fundraising event at the Ute Theater. Called Hoot at the Ute, the benefit concert aimed at raising funds for Journey Home has doors opening at 6 p.m. Saturday. Performing live are local bands Feeding Giants, The Jig Mining Company and more. Tickets can be found at For more information on Journey Home, visit their website at

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