Garfield County commissioners are staying true to their funding commitment for the county’s two animal shelters, despite cutting the Sheriff’s Office animal control program this year.
Commissioners this week approved two budgeted requests — Colorado Animal Rescue (C.A.R.E.) for $250,000, and Rifle Animal Shelter for $170,000.
Faced with declining revenues associated with the downturn in new natural gas drilling activity in the county and other factors, the county has begun cutting some non-essential programs and services.
Among them for 2021 was the elimination of the sheriff’s animal control program, which had cost about $500,000 per year.
But that doesn’t mean the commissioners don’t support the efforts of the two animal shelters to keep the county’s domestic animal population healthy through spay and neuter efforts and pet vaccination clinics.
C.A.R.E., based in Spring Valley near the Colorado Mountain College campus, accepted 258 stray animals in 2020, including 138 brought in by county animal control officers, said C.A.R.E. Executive Director Wes Boyd.
In addition, the shelter performed 443 spay and neuter surgeries last year and provided 137 vouchers for $50 each to help customers cover the cost of the procedure at local veterinarians, he said.
The shelter also vaccinated or microchipped 144 pets, and adopted out 654 animals into new homes.
“We’ve already taken in 44 feral cats for spay and neuter and vaccination in 2021,” Boyd said. “This funding helps keep the shelter going.”
Likewise, the Rifle shelter took in 1,584 animals and adopted out 1,222 to homes last year. It also spayed and neutered more than 1,400 animals and vaccinated another 1,276, Rifle Animal Shelter Executive Director Heather Grant said.
“I know that with cuts 2021 has been a tough year for the budget, and I appreciate the board’s continued support,” Grant said.
The Rifle shelter is also in the midst of an expansion project that will increase its capacity from 12 dog runs to 25, she said.
“We will also have space for smaller dogs, so that they are not taking up the large kennel space,” Grant said. And, the project includes the addition of three cat rooms that allow cats to wander freely, as long as they get along with other felines.
Boyd and Grant both also said they have been actively involved in providing pet food to those in need, through the Colorado Pet Food Pantry program and in conjunction with the area Lift-Up food distributions.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or [email protected]