The Roice-Hurst Humane Society and Mesa County Health Department are teaming up to improve the lives of county residents and the animals they share a home with.

A key part of that effort rolled into Redlands Community Center Friday night. A large, custom-built truck with pictures of local pets on the outside and a mobile veterinary clinic on the inside will help Roice-Hurst expand its outreach in the community.

"What's unique about the plan that we have is we're not just focused on the animal aspect of this," Roice-Hurst Executive Director Anna Stout said. "What we really want to do is make sure we're focusing on a one-health perspective. The idea that human health is connected to animal health."

Stout said the idea is to involve Mesa County when the shelter plans an outreach event. Ideally, Stout said, each time they put on a clinic Mesa County would also come out and offer a human-focused clinic.

"Sometimes people will take care of their animals first," Mesa County Health Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said. "So, if we can provide services that they want for their animals, then we've all of a sudden taken some stress off of them and we offer them something for themselves."

The truck cost around $270,000, Stout said, and was made possible thanks to a bequest from Donna Baer, along with some additional fundraising. The truck will help the shelter in other ways beyond increasing its community outreach ability, Stout said.

"It will allow us to handle a lot of the things we are sending out to other veterinarians in town that really end up costing the shelter more money," Stout said. "More importantly, they delay the time it takes for an animal to get from intake to the adoption floor."

With the new truck, which has a full surgical unit inside, it can handle many of those procedures in house, Stout said. It will also help their efforts in spaying and neutering cats in Mesa County, including feral cats.

"This will allow us to deploy to right where the cats are, right to where we're trapping them, to where they're reproducing," Stout said. "It will just make the logistics of that easier."

Kennith Blair said the need for spaying and neutering dogs and cats in Mesa County was one of the reasons he decided to donate to allow Roice-Hurst to purchase the truck.

"So many of our residents here don't have the ability to actually bring one of their animals in to get them spayed and neutered," Blair said. "Spay and neuter is something that we definitely are in dire need of here to keep the overpopulation under control."

Overall, Blair said he supported the shelter's mission and was impressed with the work it has done in the community.

"They're a wonderful facility," Blair said. "I've been engaged with numerous (shelters) throughout the nation. This is one of the top ones."

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