‘People of Mesa County have high expectations’ of pet owners, Animal Services director says

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Oso could be mistaken for a healthy dog from a happy home if it weren’t for the scar circling his neck.

The dog jumped and played with Mesa County Animal Services officer Beth Smith at the agency’s shelter Tuesday afternoon, five days after officers rescued him from a cluttered, fenced-in yard with no water or shelter from the heat. His collar was so deeply embedded into his neck he needed stitches once it was removed.

After some rest and recuperation, Animal Services staff will carefully screen potential adoptive parents for Oso. His owners, who named him the Spanish word for bear, relinquished custody of the 2-year-old Australian shepherd-cattle dog mix and were cited for animal abuse and neglect.

Six citations have been issued by county Animal Services officers in the past two weeks. That’s a quarter of the citations that were given during all of 2008.

The first half of July is a popular time for citations. Officers issued four citations in the first two weeks of July.

Animal Services Director Penny McCarty said this year’s July spike is alarming because it involves “extreme” cases, such as Oso’s and several incidents of dogs being left in hot cars.

One dog was found in a car with an inside temperature of 114 degrees.

Not every dog-left-in-a-hot-car incident warrants a citation. If the animal is in no immediate danger, officers put a flier on the car’s windshield that explains a car can heat up to 102 degrees in 10 minutes or 120 degrees in 30 minutes when it’s just 80 degrees outside.

“We give these things out like they’re candy,” McCarty said of the fliers.

If a dog’s temperature rises above 107 degrees, the animal can suffer brain damage or die.
McCarty said it’s not just citations but calls about potentially neglected or abused pets that are on the rise.

“The people of Mesa County have high expectations” of pet owners, McCarty said.

Those high expectations, McCarty said, contribute to the county having few instances of people abandoning their animals when they run out of money, move or have their home foreclosed — a phenomenon that has plagued other parts of the nation. 


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