Our View: Dogs have owners; cats have staff | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Dogs have owners; cats have staff

We think the existing city staff at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter has done a fine job, in concert with volunteers from the Routt County Humane Society, of providing compassionate care for abandoned and unwanted dogs and cats for many years.

Let us be reminded that in February 2002, it was city and county staff that led the successful fundraising drive that raised $3,300 so a red and white mutt named Rudy could undergo much-needed shoulder surgery. Many of the principal employees working in animal control and at the shelter have been showing compassion for unwanted animals here for a good, long while.

We hope the current positive working relationship among paid staff and Humane Society volunteers will continue if a pending plan to turn management of the Animal Shelter over to the Humane Society is formalized.

That said, we think the passionate volunteers with the Humane Society have the potential to broaden the range of services for pet owners as well as make it more convenient for would-be adopters to visit the facility. The city, under its prevailing furlough, has a difficult time staffing the shelter (without the Humane Society's help) after 5 p.m. on weekdays and particularly for a few hours Saturday and Sunday.

According to the city's Web page, the shelter is open only from noon to 2 p.m. Sundays. We hope that will change. The most convenient time for families to visit the shelter and carefully determine if an unwanted cat or dog is right for them is on weekends, after all.

Recent plans for making the change at the Animal Shelter have been studied for a year, but really, it's a move that has been talked about for decades. And we commend the Steamboat Springs City Council and city staff as well as Humane Society leadership for working through their different views on how much of the financial responsibility the city should shoulder when the Humane Society takes charge.

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Steamboat Today reported Sept. 23 that the two groups were trying to put things back together after the city rejected an initial financial plan that would have cost the city an additional $50,000 to $100,000 annually.

Running the shelter in tandem with employing two animal control officers might be a headache for the city's police department, but not that big of a headache.

City Council and the Humane Society now have come to a tentative agreement that only would increase its annual subsidy of the Animal Shelter from the $77,000 it currently contributes to about $80,000.

We like to think we aren't naive, and we expect that assuming operational control of the Animal Shelter is the key to the Routt County Humane Society broadening its membership along with its funding base and ability to attract grants.

A Humane Society plan to offer behavioral training for pets and their owners is just one enticing example of how this new arrangement could benefit the public.

At Issue: Turning the Animal Shelter over to the Humane Society.

Our View: Entrusting the management of the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter to the Humane Society has potential to broaden services offered, but city and county animal control officers must not be marginalized.