Task force examining ways to build animal shelter for Delta County

Delta County needs an animal shelter, and a new task force is looking for ways to build one.

Debbie Faulkner of Crawford, a member of Citizens for Animal Welfare and Shelter, or CAWS, knows the problem well: At her home she has 18 dogs and 20 cats waiting for adoption or a foster home.

Faulkner said CAWS is getting out of the business of placing pets and is concentrating on spaying and neutering, making the need for a county shelter even greater.

A shelter is needed, but citizens don’t want to pay for one, Delta County Manager Susan Hansen said. A ballot question in 2003 to raise taxes for animal control was overwhelmingly turned down, she said.

The Delta County Commission discussed building an animal shelter in 2005, Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said, but a survey showed county residents “were not behind that effort at all.”

The task force, comprised of county, town and animal-welfare-group representatives, including McKee, met once, Hansen said, and will continue to meet monthly to seek solutions to the growing problem.

“The consensus was to look at grand funds, cost of operation and maintenance, is there land for such a site, and how we would finance this,” McKee said.

She said the county contracts with local veterinarians to take dogs that are picked up. Strays are a problem, he said, but lack of staff limits the Sheriff’s Department to picking up vicious or chronic-nuisance dogs.

Only the towns of Cedaredge and Delta have animal shelters in Delta County, and neither takes animals from the county.

Montrose County doesn’t have a shelter, either, but it contracts with the city of Montrose to use its shelter as well as animal control officers, said Mike Duncan, supervisor of animal services.

Jackie Schoonover of the Delta County Humane Society said there would be less need for a shelter if people would spay and neuter their pets. She said she’s not sure a county animal shelter will get off the ground.

“The economics in Delta County make it real difficult to support a shelter,” she said. “And there’s always going to be stray animals, but right now there’s nowhere for them to go.”


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