Annual pet registrations lagging

Spay/neuter discount coupons available at shelter for 'Spay Day USA'

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— Nearly 2,000 Routt County pet owners registered their dogs and cats in 2008. Since last year's registrations expired more than a month ago, only 195 dogs and 33 cats have been brought up to date, according to the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter.

All Routt County residents are required to license their pets each year, animal shelter co-manager Molly Waters said. Registration must be done in person at the animal shelter and requires a current rabies vaccination certificate from a veterinarian - not the pet's rabies tag, Waters said.

"We'd like everyone to get it done in January, but that doesn't happen," Waters said.

Current registration fees are $5 for altered dogs and cats or $25 otherwise, payable by cash or check. The 2009 tags, which are valid through Dec. 31, must be worn at all times by dogs.

"If a dog is found at large without a license, it automatically goes to court," Waters said, noting that owners also can be required to pay fines to the city or county.

The animal shelter has two dogs and about 20 cats available for adoption, Waters said. Although those numbers are pretty typical, the shelter hopes to get its current residents into new homes quickly, before the busy spring and summer.

In honor of The Humane Society of the United States' 15th annual "Spay Day USA" on Feb. 24, the Routt County Humane Society is sponsoring $80 spay/neuter discount coupons. The coupons were funded by proceeds from the Humane Society's "Art Unleashed" fundraiser in September, former president Maggie Smith said.

Spay Day occurs in February to avoid the unwanted litters of kittens and puppies that are born every spring, Smith said.

"We're trying to prevent unwanted pet populations on the front end," Smith said. "We don't want to see animals having to get euthanized because there's too many of them."

In addition to unwanted kittens and puppies born in the spring, the animal shelter also sees an increase in pet abandonment and surrenders, Waters said.

"Lots of people move at the end of ski season and can't or don't want to take their pets with them," she said.

Beginning Saturday, 50 of the $80 spay/neuter coupons will be available at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter on a first-come, first-served basis. A full-price spay or neuter can cost from $100 to $300, depending on the animal, its age and its health, Smith said. The coupons are good for discounts at Mount Werner Veterinary Hospital, Pet Kare Clinic and Steamboat Veterinary Hospital.

The Routt County Humane Society also provides year-round spay/neuter assistance and emergency veterinary bill assistance to low-income families. For more information, call 879-7247.

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