‘Happy trails and tails’ | SteamboatToday.com

‘Happy trails and tails’

— After 28 years working as a Routt County Sheriff’s Office animal control officer, Cindy DelValle has quite a few stories to tell.

DelValle, who is retiring Nov. 4, recalled a recent call in which a dog had been showing up for a couple of months at a ranch near the Moffat County line.

The dog was not begging for food, and it was skittish around humans. Instead, it befriended an old horse living at the ranch.

“It just bonded with this older horse,” DelValle said.

The dog was trapped and brought in for an assessment. DelValle learned that the dog’s teeth had been ground down from being locked in a cage.

“Its teeth were ground down from trying to get out of this cage,” DelValle said.

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The dog was able to get the dental care he needed, and a veterinarian technician adopted him.

“He became one of the nicest dogs,” DelValle said.

DelValle grew up on a Ohio farm and has always had animals, including horses.

After moving to Steamboat Springs in search of a rural lifestyle, DelValle started working as an animal control officer.

“I just thought it would be a good fit,” DelValle said.

During her career, she developed a passion for helping animals.

She co-founded the Animal Assistance League 19 years ago. The organization serves five western Colorado counties and helps with spay/neuter programs, animal medical needs and public education.

She has visited countless classrooms of first- through fifth-graders to educate students about animals.

“They’re our future pet owners, and our goal is to make sure they’re responsible ones and also, that they are safe around pets,” DelValle said.

For the past four years, she has served on the board of the Colorado Federation of the Animal Welfare Agencies. That groups works with legislators to create laws that address animal welfare.

Undersheriff Ray Birch has worked with DelValle about 16 years and supervised her the past seven.

“She’s very passionate about her job, and she puts 100-plus-percent effort into anything that has to do with protecting animals,” Birch said. “I would say it was more of a calling for her to go into the field.”

Birch said what impresses him about DelValle is her fairness. Sometimes, protecting animal welfare entails enforcing laws and dealing with delicate situations between animal owners and neighbors.

“Sometimes, it’s just being a mediator between people,” DelValle said. “I like people to try and work it out first. Usually, a citation is kind of a last resort.”

DelValle is grateful for her time at the Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s been great, being able to serve this community, and to everyone: Happy trails and tails,” DelValle said.

DelValle and her husband are already in the process of moving to Sandpoint, Idaho, where they will enjoy retirement.

“I want to thank my husband, Bob DelValle, for being so patient and for listening to my animal stories,” she said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland