New place for strays to open

Tori Zattiero, a volunteer with CLAWS - Cat’s League and Assistance of the Western Slope, holds a dog that is up for adoption at the new Mesa County Animal Services facility at 971 Coffman Road, near the county landfill.


New Animal Services facility will be open Monday

The new $2 million Mesa County Animal Services building on Orchard Mesa will be more spacious and functional than the old facility in Pear Park. It also contains elements intended to reduce odors, prevent the spread of disease and keep critters comfortable. Some highlights:

• A conference room for pet ownership classes and animal assessment

• A ventilation system that continuously draws in and expels air, avoiding recirculation that can sustain odors and disease

• Outdoor kennels with insulated dog houses, heatable water bowls, sun covers and misting systems

• A centralized high-pressure wash system for easy cleaning and sanitizing

• A one-of-a-kind confinement system that will allow staff to safely and gently restrain animals when administering medication

With dogs barking in easy-to-clean and well-ventilated kennels and cats lounging in their playground-like area, Mesa County officials and local animal-care providers celebrated Wednesday the opening of the county’s new Animal Services building.

More than 50 people turned out to tour the $2 million, 7,700-square-foot facility at 971 Coffman Road near the county landfill.

The facility replaces Animal Services’ old headquarters on 28 Road, a 25-year-old, 4,500-square-foot building that became inadequate in recent years as the county grew and Animal Services took in more strays. Calls for service jumped last year to 10,824 a 20 percent increase over 2008.

“The level of services we’re going to be able to provide the citizens of Mesa County is going to increase dramatically” with the new building, Animal Services Director Penny McCarty said.

The new building will allow Animal Services to keep animals that can be adopted. The county is required to hold stray dogs and cats for three to five days, and with so many strays streaming into the old building, officials sometimes had to transfer adoptable pets throughout the state, McCarty said.

At the old building, dangerous or sick dogs were brought in through the main building, an arrangement that jeopardized the safety of the public and healthy animals. The new facility features a separate secured area for quarantined dogs, which Animal Services officers can access without entering the main building.

Once dogs are admitted, they will be placed in kennels that won’t be face-to-face, which McCarty said should reduce agitation and barking. The kennels can be expanded to accommodate larger dogs or shrunk for smaller ones.

“This is all designed to keep the animals as calm and safe and stress-free as possible in a shelter environment,” McCarty said.

Joan Casey, director of programs with the Denver-based Animal Assistance Foundation, said she has visited animal shelters across the state and called Mesa County’s new building “state-of-the-art.”

Casey said the facility will draw more people, those who no longer can or are willing to care for their pets, and those who want to adopt. More people in the latter group could lead to fewer cases of euthanasia, she said.

Animal Services officials hope two other county-owned plots on the Coffman Road site will be the future homes of other animal-welfare organizations.

The facility will open for a couple of hours at noon Sunday before fully opening Monday.


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