Steamboat Springs The man at the other end of the telephone line was in tears.
He was leaving Steamboat Springs and going through a rough time; the friends he had entrusted his dogs to were getting a divorce and couldn't keep them. All the California humane shelters he called had a policy requiring the animals to be destroyed after 48 hours. Sanne Pollak, an animal control officer at the Steamboat Springs/Routt County Animal Shelter who compassionately listened as the man described his plight, was his last hope.
"He was crying on the phone with me," Pollak said. "He said he would do anything possible if these dogs could go anywhere. He said 'I'll do whatever it is I need to do to give them a fair chance.'"
Pollak told the dog owner that his fair chance could transpire during the upcoming Dog Adopt-A-Thon, June 9-10, on the Routt County Courthouse lawn.
The man drove from California to drop off Baxter, a brownish male shepherd mix, and Cheyenne, a black female Labrador mix at the animal shelter Tuesday. The dogs had never been separated before.
"I was moved. It was amazing," Pollak said. "They're here together in the kennel, they've never been alone. We're looking for a family where they could go together."
The shelter will offer 8 to 10 dogs including Labradors, shepherds, and two Anatolian Shepherd puppies that were left on the side of the road in Hayden that will join 12 to 15 other dogs provided by the Utah-based Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Best Friends was founded in Arizona in the 1970s by a group of animal lovers who sought to rescue unclaimed animals that faced death in shelters.
Its Utah facility houses more than 1,000 animals and about 650 dogs.
Animal Control Officer Stacy Hayes said the partnership with Best Friends allows the animal shelter to send dogs to the sanctuary instead of destroying the animals when they go unclaimed.
The shelter also will be showing several cats at the Adopt-A-Thon, because the center has an unusually high number of felines this year.
Potential owners must be at least 18 years old and will have to pay a $17 fee for spayed or neutered dogs.
There will be an additional $90 returnable deposit for dogs that haven't been neutered, and $70 for cats that have not been neutered. There will be a trial adoption period of five days, during which time the dogs can be returned to the shelter if things don't work out. Last year's Adopt-A-Thon had a similar number of dogs, with all but two finding homes.
"It's a lifetime commitment. It's like having a kid," Pollak said. "They need time. They need love."
The Adopt-A-Thon will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
A sign-up sheet is available at the animal shelter at 760 Critter Court for volunteers who want to walk or show the dogs. Also, a representative from Paws and Claws will have animal accessories for sale at the event Saturday.
For more information, call 879-0621 or Best Friends toll-free at 977-268-4191.