Shelter policies questioned

Organization wants to save dogs from being euthanized after 21 days

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— The Routt County Humane Society is concerned with the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter's policy of putting animals to sleep 21 days after they are impounded.

Josie Dean, president of the Humane Society, said the organization was surprised to learn four dogs were put to death Aug. 4. Of the four dogs, Dean said two of them were sled dogs that were old but still could have been adopted.

"We are sick about it. My heart was broken when I got the call last week that four dogs were put to sleep," she said.

J.D. Hays, the city's director of public safety services, said the animal shelter was simply following city policy that Humane Society members should be aware of.

"It has always been a policy of the city that after holding an animal for an extended period of time, whether it be cats or dogs, that if they are not adopted they get put down," Hays said. "Most get adopted, but some do get put down. We have been doing that for years. Nothing has changed."

But Dean said the shelter historically has euthanized dogs that are violent or ill but kept dogs that were eligible for adoption beyond the 21-day period.

"Animals who were non-adoptable, had violent behavior and were sick were put down with our blessing," Dean said. "But (shelter officials) were always willing to turn their heads" when it came to animals that could be adopted.

The Humane Society is seeking a meeting with the City Council to discuss the policy. Because the society contributes significant funding and supplies to the shelter, Dean said her organization's position should be considered.

"We are interested in meeting with the city to discuss this matter in more detail and what changes can be made," Dean said. "We donate medicine, emergency medical care and vaccines. We think that we should have a say."

She said because the food is donated, the cost of keeping the animals is minor when compared with the cost to euthanize them.

Dean said the society also is concerned the shelter's operating hours don't give residents enough time to stop by the shelter and adopt animals.

The shelter is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and 12 to 2 p.m. on weekends.

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