I would like to address the issue of animal control officers in the Steamboat Springs community. I had a terrible experience in which there was a stray/lost dog running around the Lincoln Avenue area and the animal control officers were “off duty.”
A woman and myself pulled into an alleyway trying to help the lost dog, which was just a block away from Lincoln Avenue. We quickly realized the dog had been running around Lincoln Avenue for a while. He was extremely skittish and head/collar shy.
Even with luring with chicken, he would not let us touch his collar to read his tag, call his owner and to put a slip lead on him. We could tell he was very uncomfortable and quickly became stressed.
We spent 45 minutes working with him with no luck. Ten minutes into the ordeal I called the Routt County Humane Society, was told to call animal control and then was instructed to call a dispatcher. I was told that an animal control officer would be there immediately. The dispatcher asked me numerous questions about the dog, our location and if the dog was a hazard to traffic (Of course he was! Roaming around Lincoln Avenue and the immediate area is obviously a huge traffic hazard, not to mention it was around 5:30 p.m. and getting dark.)
Then I was told that no animal control officers were on duty, and there was nothing they could do. She suggested we leash the dog, drive him to the shelter and an employee would meet us there. I reminded her that the dog was very skittish and head/collar shy.
We tried everything we could think of to read his tag and to leash him, and get him into our cars. Both I, as a dog trainer, and the woman I was with were very dog savvy, and we wanted to help the poor dog out, but with no help from animal control officers.
I am very disappointed and upset with the fact that at 5:15 p.m. there is no animal control officer on duty. Steamboat was recently recognized and awarded the title of “Dog Town USA,” yet we have a tremendously flawed system in regard to animal control.
I am a huge animal/dog advocate, and it breaks my heart that there was a stray dog wandering around downtown, stressed and afraid, and we didn’t receive any assistance from the city.
The woman and I were trying very hard to get the dog out of harm’s way. We are not animal control workers; they have the resources and experience to help stray/lost dogs get to safety.
In conclusion, I think our community needs to support at least 12- to 24-hour support from animal control officers. Additionally, it would be extremely helpful to have at least two or three police officers trained in animal control methods. I would love to support this cause and the issue with Steamboat Springs City Council members and raise money to support a more efficient system to help scared, stray and lost animals in our community.