With a $34,000 check from the Rainbow Bridge Group in hand, the city of Steamboat Springs is expected to purchase a pet crematorium this week.
The check represents two years of fund raising from the group, which is comprised of the Animal Assistance League of Northwest Colorado, the Routt County Humane Society, animal control officers, veterinarians, the city, the county and interested community members.
About $3,000 from a fund-raising push at the beginning of the year gave the group enough money to purchase the unit.
More than 150 individuals contributed to the crematorium fund, the group's treasurer Lynne Cleveland-Swanson said.
"We would not be where we are now if it wasn't for the wonderful community that cares so much about their animals," Cleveland-Swanson said.
The group paid for the cost of the crematorium with the help of a $10,000 contribution from Routt County.
With the manufacturers anticipating to raise the cost of the crematorium unit in the next week, City Deputy Manager Wendy DuBord said the city had to act quickly to collect the money and purchase the unit.
The city is buying the unit from a Florida company and is expected to have it within the next 12 to 16 weeks, DuBord said. The crematorium could be operational by this fall, depending on money raised to install it.
The group needs to raise another $8,000 to $10,000 for the installation of the crematorium and is hoping local builders will give in-kind contributions.
Although the city did contribute to the cost of the crematorium unit, it will take over the responsibility of owning it and covering all operating costs.
The city also is providing the space for the crematorium -- a section of the Steamboat Springs and Routt County Animal Shelter off 13th Street. When the animal shelter was built, a crematorium was planned, but the city has not had the funds to buy one.
Profits from the crematorium, which are expected to be at least $11,000 a year, will be used to help animals in need at the shelter, Cleveland-Swanson said.
"It will be wonderful to have the crematorium up and running because the benefit will be used for the homeless shelter animals, and their needs are great," she said. "This has driven the Rainbow Bridge Committee from day one."
The city is in a three-way agreement with the Animal Assistance League and the Humane Society to allow the groups the first right of refusal if the city were to stop operating the crematorium. The agreement also stipulates that all profits must be used for animal-related projects.