Fewer four-legged friends needing a home at county shelter

Camera-shy Baxter hides behind Penny McCarty, director of Mesa County Animal Services, at the shelter, 971A Coffman Road in Whitewater. Baxter, a terrier mix stray about 5 years old, was groomed by Bark and Meow grooming and has been neutered. He is ready for adoption through Grand Rivers Humane and can be seen at PetSmart’s adoption fair Aug. 2 and 3.



Animals brought to Animal Services, first six months of the year:

■ 2010: 2,705

■ 2011: 2,554

■ 2012: 2,151

■ 2013: 2,048

■ 2014: 1,680


Source: Mesa County Animal Services

For the fifth consecutive year, the number of animals brought to the shelter at Mesa County Animal Services declined year over year in the first half of 2014.

The shelter provided a temporary home to 1,680 animals in the first six months of 2014, an 18 percent drop compared with the first six months of 2013. Admittance numbers at the shelter have dropped every year since 2010, when 2,705 animals came to the shelter in the first half of the year.

Mesa County Animal Services Director Penny McCarty credits an uptick in pet sterilization, owner retrieval of pets and community vigilance as some of the reasons for the decline. She said Animal Services’ decision in May to stop taking healthy cats from owners who wished to relinquish them hasn’t had much impact on this year’s numbers because the change was made so recently. The shelter still takes sick or injured cats and admitted 417 cats in the first six months of this year. The shelter took in 660 cats between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2013.

Cats no longer accepted at Animal Services are going to Cats League and Assistance of the Western Slope, or CLAWS. Continued assistance from shelters inside and outside the community have helped Animal Services clear space in its shelter and find homes for animals for years, McCarty said. Starting this month, Animal Services will share a $25,000 grant from the Denver-based Animal Assistance Foundation with CLAWS, Grand Rivers Humane, and Roice-Hurst Humane Society to provide medical care to sick or injured animals in their shelters.


McCarty said grants and help from shelters that provide hospice and medical services for pets have helped steadily decrease euthanasia rates at Animal Services. Despite an increase this year in requests for euthanasia from pet owners, McCarty said the number of pets euthanized at the shelter declined from 617 in the first half of 2013 to 436 in the first half of 2014.

McCarty said decreases in both euthanasia rates and the number of animals coming to the shelter correlate with increased efforts to get pets spayed of neutered.

Animal Services offers vouchers for animal sterilization and will give out as many as needed for discount procedures this year.

Unlike the euthanasia and shelter admittance rates, the number of owners picking up their pets from Animal Services is on the rise.

Thirty-five percent of animals brought to the shelter in the first six months of 2014 were retrieved by owners, compared with to a 29 percent retrieval rate in the first half of 2013.

“I would like to think that’s (because of) responsible pet ownership,” McCarty said. “More people don’t look at their pets as disposable.”

Before a Mesa County ordinance passed last year outlawed selling pets in public areas, McCarty said some people who lost a pet would opt to get a new one rather than pick up their old pet, possibly for a fee if the animal was a repeat runaway.

Some pet owners were less interested in picking up their animals when the local economy was worse in recent years, McCarty added, especially if the pet was ill and needed expensive care.

McCarty also gave a nod to social media for keeping shelter numbers slimmer and reuniting more pets with their owners.

The growing popularity of Facebook site Mesa County Lost and Found Pets, which allows people to post messages and photos online when a local pet is lost or spotted, has allowed several pet-owners to find and retrieve their animals without the pet ever having to come to the shelter.

Additionally, Animal Services posts its own list of current animals at the shelter at animalservices.mesacounty.us. Click on the Lost and Found Pets tab to view the list of details and photos pertaining to lost animals.


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