Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter is buckling down for a spring rush of abandoned and runaway animals, thanks to warm weather and the exodus of seasonal residents.
"Last year, we had quite a few that were abandoned after ski season," Steamboat Springs Animal Control Officer Stacy Hayes said.
Things are slow right now, but the shelter has been busier than normal the last several weeks. Most of the animals found homes or were claimed by their owners, but two were put down, shelter employee Ken Flagg said.
"We hate to do that," he said.
There are five dogs and two cats at the shelter right now. Most are new arrivals.
Pet owners who know they will not be able to keep their pets are encouraged to drop the animal off at the shelter instead of leaving it to stray.
"We're more than happy to have them come in and surrender their pets," she said. "That's what shelters are for."
It's understandable for people to be in a situation where they have an unwanted animal, especially with the large number of seasonal residents in Routt County, Hayes said.
It's better to take the pet to the shelter where it can be fed and have a chance for adoption. The odds of the animal's survival could be better.
Less than 4 percent of the animals caged at the shelter were put down last year. In 1999, the shelter had 940 animals. Of those, 36 were euthanized, 316 were adopted and the rest were returned to their owners.
The shelter, the Routt County Humane Society and the Northwest Colorado Animal Assistants League can also help owners take care of an animal to avoid putting the pet in the shelter, Hayes said.
They can help with supplying shots, food and with spaying or neutering the pet if its owner can't afford to do it, she said.
Hayes hopes nobody feels threatened about asking for assistance.
"We're nice people," she said.
Most of the animals that have been in the shelter this spring were runaway dogs.
The nice weather lures owners into letting their pets out of the house without a leash.
Officers see more stray dogs in the morning than any other time because pet owners have let them out for the first bathroom break of the day, Hayes said.
There is a leash law in Steamboat Springs and officers have written 60 no-leash tickets so far this year.
Hayes encourages people without fences to put their dogs on a leash in the morning to avoid the officers having to deal with the dog and charge the owner a fine.
Furthermore, she wants to remind pet owners that all animals need annual licenses and proof of a rabies shot. It's also a good idea to have a name and address tag for the dog.
For license information call the animal shelter at 879-0621. Anyone who needs information on spay and neuter assistance call the Humane Society at 879-RCHS.
-- To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org