Teller County, CO

Teller County is located in central Colorado and is part of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area. Teller County’s population is 23,000 people. The county seat is Cripple Creek, which has a population of 1200. The largest city in Teller County is Woodland Park, which has a population of 6500.

The Teller County Regional Animal Shelter (TCRAS) takes in strays and owner surrenders for the county and the city of Woodland Park. Animal control in Teller County is provided by the sheriff’s office. Woodland Park has its own animal control division. The city of Cripple Creek has its own animal control and shelter, the Cripple Creek Animal Shelter (CCAS).

A page on the the TCRAS website describes how TCRAS was formed in the year 2000 specifically to avoid having the county send its animals to a kill shelter. Like many progressive shelters, TCRAS does not impound stray cats (see this post by the president of HSUS for more information on recommended community cat policy). I spoke to an official of TCRAS who told me that the shelter takes in owner surrenders from Teller County on a space-available basis. An animal control officer with CCAS told me that they accept owner surrenders from their jurisdiction with no conditions other than a $75 surrender fee.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture collects statistics each year on animal shelters in the state. In 2012, TCRAS reported an intake of 757 animals. Its live release rate was 99% (98% if animals who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias). CCAS reported an intake of 38 animals with no euthanasias or deaths in shelter care, for a live release rate of 100%. CCAS had 2 transfers, which the animal control officer told me went to TCRAS.

In 2013 the shelters had the same live release rates as in 2012. TCRAS reported to the state of Colorado that it took in 818 animals. Of those animals, 746 were adopted or reclaimed and 9 were transferred. Eight animals were euthanized and 5 died in shelter care The live release rate was 99%, or 98% if animals who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias. CCAS took in 37 animals, all dogs, returned 33 to their owners, adopted out 3, and transferred 1, for a live release rate of 100%.

Teller County was originally listed by this blog on October 19, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties, CO

Clear Creek (9100 residents) and Gilpin (5400 residents) are small counties in a mountainous area west of Denver. Clear Creek has two towns of 1000 or more population: Georgetown (1100), and Idaho Springs (1900). Gilpin has a few small towns of 600 people or less. Both counties are part of the greater Denver metro area.

The Clear Creek/Gilpin County Animal Shelter, which is called Charlie’s Place, serves both counties. It is located in the town of Dumont in Clear Creek County. The shelter was named for a favorite dog owned by the donor of the land for the shelter. I spoke with Sue LeBarron, who has been director of the shelter since it opened 5 years ago, and she told me that the shelter accepts owner surrenders from Clear Creek County and Gilpin County with no conditions. Charlie’s Place helps neighboring shelters by taking in surrenders from other jurisdictions in the area when they can. They also have a transport program where they take in dogs from out of state that are at high risk of euthanasia.

The shelter is supported by a non-profit, the Friends of Charlie’s Place (FOCP). A newsletter reporting on 2013 stated that FOCP had helped in the placement of over 180 animals in 2013, redesigned the shelter’s exercise park, helped with pet retention and adoption initiatives, and organized fundraising events. FOCP also pays the expenses of animals transferred in from out of the shelter’s jurisdiction.

LeBarron told me that feral cats are uncommon in the area, and when they are impounded the shelter seeks to place them as barn cats. The shelter does offsite adoption events for domesticated cats. It offers low-cost microchipping, vaccination clinics, and low-cost and free spay-neuter services.

Charlie’s Place reports its shelter statistics to the Colorado Department of Agriculture. For 2012, the shelter reported taking in 485 dogs and cats, which is an intake of 33 animals per 1000 people. The shelter transferred in 116 dogs from out of state and 31 dogs and 9 cats from in state, which accounts for the relatively high intake per person. Without the transfers, the intake per 1000 people was 23. The Colorado reporting form has no category for fosters, so Charlie’s Place reports fostered animals in the “other” category. The shelter’s live release rate for 2012 was 99%.

For 2013, the shelter took in 455 animals and again had a 99% live release rate. They had no deaths in shelter care. The shelter once again helped animals from outside its jurisdiction, transferring in 136 dogs and 7 cats.

Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties were originally listed by this blog on November 22, 2013, based on their 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Las Animas County, CO

Las Animas County is located in southeastern Colorado and has 16,000 residents. Its county seat is Trinidad, which has 9100 residents. The county covers a large area and is sparsely populated outside of Trinidad. There is also a city in Colorado named Las Animas, but it is part of an adjacent county.

Las Animas County and Trinidad both have their own animal control officers. They take animals to Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Organization, located in Trinidad, which is the impoundment facility for the city and the county.

I spoke to a representative of the shelter, who told me that Noah’s Ark accepts owner surrenders from Las Animas County and Trinidad. They ask people to make an appointment but take animals immediately if an owner cannot wait for an appointment. They also accept animals from surrounding jurisdictions when they have room.

Noah’s Ark submits its statistics to the state of Colorado. For 2013, total intake was 1255 animals. This gives the shelter an extremely high pets-per-thousand-people rate of 78. The live release rate was 93%. The modified live release rate including shelter deaths was 90%.

La Plata County, CO

La Plata County is located in southwestern Colorado and has 51,000 residents. Its county seat is Durango, which has 17,000 residents.

The impounding agency for the city and county is La Plata County Humane Society (LPCHS), which has an animal control division. LPCHS describes itself as an “open-admission animal shelter.” The shelter accepts owner surrenders from La Plata County and Durango but asks that people call first. A shelter representative told me that, in addition to open-admission acceptance of La Plata and Durango animals, LPCHS also accepts animals from outside of its jurisdiction when it has room. All animals are spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped before they leave the shelter. The shelter offers owner-requested euthanasia.

LPCHS participates in the PetSmart Charities Rescue Waggin’ program. This article describes a recent transport from LPCHS to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. LPCHS shelter director Chris Nelson said they had not euthanized a dog for space since they began to participate in the program. Lisa Pedersen, director of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, said they might be short of dogs to adopt out without the transfers. She attributed that fact to the attitude of people in Boulder Valley, stating that adoption from the shelter was the “popular choice” for people in the area.

LPCHS submits its statistics to the state of Colorado. For 2013, total intake was 3047 animals. This gives the shelter an extremely high pets-per-thousand-people rate of 60. The shelter adopted out 1905 animals and transferred 193. The live release rate was 92%. The modified live release rate including shelter deaths was 91%.

South Platte Valley, CO

The South Platte River flows northward through Denver. An area just south of the city of Denver is known locally as the South Platte Valley, and it contains several small cities.

The Humane Society of the South Platte Valley (HSSPV) is a non-profit that was formed in late 2009 to provide animal sheltering services for Englewood (population 30,000), and Littleton (population 42,000). The shelter has formal contracts with Englewood and Littleton, which account for more than 80% of the animals it takes in. The shelter also contracts with unincorporated Arapahoe County and Cherry Hills Village (population 6000). HSSPV accepts owner surrenders with a $100 fee.

In a recent article, HSSPV director Leslie Maisonneuve said the shelter is successful at adoptions because it has many offsite adoption events and is careful to match adopters and adoptees. The shelter has a training specialist who works with animals before adoption and is available for consultation after adoption. In 2013, an organization called People Helping Pets put “virtual shelter” kiosks in the community that feature adoptable cats and dogs.

Statistics on the HSSPV website show a 95% live release rate in both 2010 and 2011. HSSPV reports its statistics to the state of Colorado, and in 2012 it took in 1550 animals with a live release rate of 96%. In 2013, the shelter reported an intake of 1943 animals with a 96% live release rate.

South Platte Valley, CO, was originally listed by this blog on April 21, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Chaffee County, CO

Chaffee County is located in a mountainous, rural area of Colorado west of Colorado Springs. It has a 2010 population of 18,000 people, including the towns of Buena Vista (population 2600) and Salida (5200), the county seat.

Animal sheltering is provided for the county and its cities by the Ark-Valley Humane Society (AVHS). I called AVHS and was told by a shelter official that the county has two animal control officers, one each in Buena Vista and Salida. AVHS does not have a formal contract with the county, but the animal control officers bring strays to AVHS for impounding. AVHS also takes in owner surrenders.  The shelter does not have a surrender fee for county residents, but does charge a fee for out-of-county surrenders. The shelter official told me that AVHS does not have a waiting list or a requirement for an appointment. The shelter has several initiatives, including low-income spay-neuter assistance and Trap-Neuter-Return for feral cats, and an active volunteer program.

AVHS has two shelters. The main shelter is located in Buena Vista and a satellite, called the Sunshine Shelter, is located in Poncha Springs. This video offers a look at the Sunshine Shelter. One unique thing about it is a garden filled with cat-and-dog themed outdoor sculptures by local artists. The AVHS 2012 annual report describes how the Sunshine Shelter has enabled AVHS to meet the needs of cats in Chaffee County and help other shelters with cats.

Animal shelters in Colorado report to the state Department of Agriculture. AVHS’s two shelters report separately. The total intake of the two shelters as reported to the state was 1269 animals in 2012 (the intake of 988 animals stated in the AVHS 2012 Annual Report does not include the animals that AVHS took in from other shelters). This is a very high intake of about 70 animals per 1000 people. The live release rate for 2012 including dispositions of the transferred animals was 96% (95% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias).

In 2013, total intake for both shelters was 919 animals. The live release rate was 99% for the Buena Vista shelter and 97% for the Poncha Springs shelter. The modified live release rates were 98% and 96% respectively.

Chaffee County, CO, was originally listed by this blog on October 26, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

No Kill and Plain Old Animal Welfare

In Which The Author Looks At Philosophy And Arrives At A Surprising Conclusion About The Best Method For No Kill To Market Itself (with apologies to Dickens)

The animal welfare era in the United States started somewhere around 1900. Before 1900, treatment of animals in a way that caused pain or fear, including killing, was ethically acceptable to most people as long as the treatment was motivated by a legitimate human interest such as business, health, or safety, and did not involve cruelty for cruelty’s sake. The harm in cruelty for cruelty’s sake was not the pain suffered by the animals, but the degradation of the humans involved. The animal welfare viewpoint is that use of animals, including killing them, is ethical as long as it is done “humanely,” i.e. without unnecessary pain or fear to the animal. Animal welfare uses the standard that an animal’s interest in avoiding pain and fear should be balanced against the good derived by a human’s use of the animal. This may not sound like much of a distinction from the 1800s, but in practice the difference was large. For example, throughout most of the 1800s it was ethically acceptable to beat a horse to make it pull an overloaded cart, or to tie the legs of calves and stack them on top of each other for transport. Such treatment is not acceptable under an animal welfare view.

The animal welfare viewpoint has by now survived a long time and is entrenched as part of our law and culture. Animal welfare is lacking in that so many of the “interests” cited by people to justify animal suffering, such as cosmetics testing and fox hunting, seem petty. Animal welfare is also revolutionary, though, in that it is a tacit admission that animals are not just property and their interests must be considered.

Some people today are trying to create a third era of our relationship to animals — an animal rights era. Under an animal rights view, it is not ethical for humans to use animals for human benefit. Keeping pets is very problematic under an animal rights view because keeping pets necessarily deprives them of many freedoms that undomesticated animals have, such as the freedom to travel, to choose their society, to live with equals, to mate as they choose, to eat what they want, etc. This is the problem of paternalism. One could argue that pets have a much better life than undomesticated or wild animals, but that assumes that a good life does not include freedom. We reject that idea out of hand for ourselves, so it is hard to justify it as a rationale for pet-keeping. [Note: The view that pet-keeping is unethical does not entail killing pets. Instead it entails stopping the breeding of pets so that existing pets, as they live out their lives in their homes and die of old age or disease, are not replaced with new pets.]

In any event, advocates for animal rights have so far had little success in moving society beyond the prevailing animal welfare view. Indeed, even animal welfare appears to have retrenched in some respects in recent decades with the unchecked growth of corporate power in general and factory farms in particular.

So where does No Kill fit into the spectrum of animal welfare to animal rights? Although we sometimes hear “rights talk” from No Kill advocates, when you examine the tenets of No Kill closely they are not that compatible with animal rights. No Kill is fine with pet-keeping, for one thing. For another, although some No Kill advocates are vegan, I think it is safe to say that the majority of them are not. Similarly, it seems doubtful that most No Kill advocates refuse to buy products that contain animal parts or were tested on animals.

A different type of rights justification for No Kill might be that shelter pets are more like family members than animals, and thus they should enjoy human rights by proxy. This view is not compatible with the No Kill movement, though, because it would allow for the killing of feral cats and unsocialized dogs, while calling into question the propriety of killing dangerous dogs who had been raised in homes. It also has the same problem of paternalism as the animal rights justification, since humans do not give up their right to make life choices simply by living in families. Even very young children are capable of expressing choices, and part of family life is to raise children to adulthood where they can make all of their own choices.

Could the relationship of domestic pets to humans serve as the basis of a contracts justification for special treatment of pets, including homeless shelter animals? Under this view, animals who are not merely domesticated but have also moved into the homes of people and become their companions have in essence entered into a contract with humans where duties and benefits flow both ways. In exchange for the love and companionship we get from domestic pets, we undertake to give them a certain quality of life for their full life span. This alternative would allow the killing of vicious dogs, because such dogs have not carried out their part of the contract. It also would avoid the problem of paternalism, because it is not rights-based. It is not compatible with No Kill, however, because it does not protect feral cats and unsocialized dogs. It also suffers from the problem of contingency, because it could be argued that the contractual duty exists only while the animal is living in a home, and disappears if the animal loses the home.

If the animal rights, proxy rights, and contractual approaches do not fit No Kill, what about the plain old justification of animal welfare? Animal welfare is, at base, a utilitarian philosophy of balancing the harm to an animal against the benefit to humans of a particular action. As it turns out, No Kill fits easily into the animal welfare philosophy. The harm to the animal in shelter killing is profound, because the loss of life is about the worst loss one can sustain. Some people would argue that suffering is the greater harm, and that shelter animals are in extreme danger of suffering neglect or cruelty in the future. There is no data to support this argument, however, so it can be dismissed from a utilitarian calculation, at least until the time when such data is available. The benefit to humans of shelter impoundment is that it gets animals off the street and keeps them from being nuisances. There is no benefit to humans of shelter killing itself, except as a means to maintain the ability to take animals off the street and to reduce costs of nuisance abatement. With No Kill, we now know that we can prevent homeless pets from being nuisances by impounding them and finding new homes for them. Medical treatment can be paid for by people who get satisfaction out of helping animals. Shelter killing thus provides no benefit to humans as long as the shelter can function without killing and with no additional costs. That is practically a description of the philosophy of No Kill.

As mentioned above, the animal welfare viewpoint is not great for animals because almost any non-trivial human interest can be used to justify subjecting an animal to pain or even death. In the case of No Kill, though, there is absolutely no benefit to humans from shelter killing, because in a No Kill shelter the shelter performs its job without any need for killing.

The animal welfare view has no problem with the issue of paternalism because it is not rights-based. It has no problem with the issue of killing dangerous dogs, because the benefit to the dog of being rehomed is outweighed by the danger to people and other animals of serious injury or death from the dangerous dog. An animal welfare view favors placement of feral cats in colonies and placement of unsocialized dogs in sanctuaries with other dogs, as long as these activities are supported by volunteers who get satisfaction from helping these animals, at no cost to taxpayers.

The animal welfare view of No Kill is not as glamorous as animal rights. It is not as uplifting as viewing No Kill as an historic battle for an oppressed class. It won’t allow us to feel like heroes. But the benefits of accepting that No Kill is simply a logical extension of animal welfare are huge. Animal welfare is already the standard for our culture’s treatment of animals. It is the way our establishments, including businesses and the legal system, have been dealing with animal issues for the last 100 years. We don’t have to change the way people think in order to gain acceptance of No Kill. We just have to point out that No Kill makes sense. It helps animals and does not hurt people. That’s all the argument we need.

So maybe we’d do better to get off our soap boxes and start explaining, with power points and graphs and success stories, why No Kill is merely a logical extension of the type of treatment of animals that we’ve already been affording them for the last 100 years. It won’t be as much fun as a march on Washington, but it may be a lot more effective.

Eagle County, CO

Eagle County is in a mountainous area of Colorado west of Denver, and has about 52,000 people. The county government provides animal control and sheltering through Eagle County Animal Services (ECAS). An ECAS representative told me that, in addition to serving the unincorporated county, the shelter has contracts to provide animal services to all the municipalities within Eagle County. The towns within the county include Avon (population 6000), Basalt (4000), Eagle (7000), Gypsum (6000) and Vail (5000). The representative said that ECAS takes in owner surrenders when they have room.

The Eagle Valley Humane Society (EVHS), a private non-profit, is also located in Eagle County. A representative of EVHS told me that they take in owner surrenders with no conditions. EVHS has several programs, including a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats and free obedience classes and counseling for adopters. ECAS and EVHS are independent organizations and, although they both serve Eagle County, they do not have a public-private partnership.

In 2010, ECAS reported an intake of 590 animals and a live release rate of 97% (scroll down in the link). The rate was 95% if a modified live release rate is calculated including the categories of owner-requested euthanasia and died or lost in shelter care in with euthanasia. EVHS reported a 97% live release rate and a 96% modified live release rate for 2010, with intake of 203. For 2011, ECAS again reported a 97% live release rate and a 95% modified live release rate, with intake of 583. EVHS in 2011 reported a 98% live release rate and a 97% modified live release rate, with intake of 231.

Eagle County is one of a group of communities in the area west of Denver that report to Maddie’s Fund and the Asilomar Accords as part of the Northwestern Colorado Coalition. Other members of the coalition are Garfield, Pitkin, and Summit counties and the cities of Aspen, Rifle and Glenwood Springs. The coalition reported an overall 97% live release rate in 2010 and 98% in 2011 (see pages 1-2 in the links).

Both ECAS and EVHS report their statistics yearly to the state of Colorado. In 2012, ECAS took in 708 animals and EVHS took in 155. ECAS’s live release rate was 91%, and the EVHS live release rate was 99%. For 2013, ECAS took in 513 animals with a live release rate of 91%. The  live release rate including shelter deaths as part of the euthanasia category was 90%. EVHS took in 204 animals including 136 strays and owner surrenders, 76 transfers from within the state, and 10 transfers from out of state. EVHS had a 99.5% live release rate (97% including shelter deaths).

Eagle County, CO, was originally listed by this blog on May 7, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Aspen, CO

Aspen is a well known ski resort in Colorado. It is a small town, with a permanent population of fewer than 7000 people. Aspen is the county seat of Pitkin County, which has a population of around 15,000.

The county handles animal control. Animal sheltering is provided by the Aspen Animal Shelter (AAS), which has an agreement with the city and county to provide “a sanctuary for dogs, cats and other domestic animals found within county borders until owners can be found.” It is a private organization primarily supported by a boarding kennel. The director describes the shelter as having “more demand than we have supply,” and thus the shelter frequently takes in animals from outside of its service area.

The AAS, under the name “Aspen/Pitkin County Animal Control and Shelter,” reported a 98% live release rate in 2010 (scroll down to pages 5-6 in the link), and a 100% live release rate in 2011 (pages 3-4 in the link). The shelter did not report any owner-requested euthanasias in 2011, and the 2011 live release rate rounds to 100% even with animals who died in shelter care counted as euthanasias. The shelter reports to Maddie’s Fund as part of the Northwestern Colorado Coalition, which achieved a 97% live release rate in 2010 for the coalition as a whole (see pages 1-2 in the link), and 98% live release rate in 2011 (97% with owner-requested euthanasia and died/lost counted in with euthanasias).

The AAS reported to the state of Colorado in 2012 that its total intake for the year was 346 animals. The live release rate was 100%, and the shelter did not report any animals as died in shelter care or in the “other” category. Therefore, its modified live release rate was also 100%. Another organization in Aspen, the Lucky Day Animal Rescue of Colorado, reports to the state. This rescue took in 12 owner surrendered dogs and 3 owner surrendered cats in 2012, as well as 76 transferred dogs, 57 of them from out of state. They too reported a 100% live release rate.

In 2013, AAS took in 400 animals and had  a live release rate of 98%. The live release rate was 95% if the animals who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias. Lucky Day took in 76 dogs and cats, with a 100% live release rate.

Aspen and Pitkin County, CO, were originally listed by this blog on April 26, 2013, based on their 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Nevada County, CA

Nevada County is located in northern California, and it shares a border with the state of Nevada. The county has almost 100,000 human residents. On July 1, 2010, a non-profit called Sammie’s Friends took over management of the Nevada County Animal Shelter from the county sheriff’s office. Animal control is still done by the sheriff’s office. In addition to the strays picked up by animal control, the shelter accepts stray animals from the public. It also accepts owner surrenders “when possible” and with a small fee.

Shelter director Cheryl Wicks wrote an article for the spring 2012 newsletter in which she takes us through a day in the life of the shelter. As she says: “Running the shelter is a little like driving an ambulance, you must go fast and pay attention to detail because somebody’s life may depend on it. You must be ready to turn on a dime at any moment because amongst the everyday work there are endless surprises.”

Curt Romander, a co-founder of Sammie’s Friends, told me: “We have a large budget dedicated to medical care of sick or injured animals that come into the shelter. This budget is funded by donations from the community and grants. We are also funded by proceeds from our thrift store which has been very successful.” The spring 2014 newsletter describes how Sammie’s Friends funded veterinary care for the shelter and for animals in the community for years before taking over the shelter.

Romander sent me full statistics for the shelter for 2013, and they are linked here: Nevada County CA 2013 Statistics. He notes that the shelter has “maintained a euthanasia rate below 1% for the past 4 years.” My calculation of the live release rate for 2013 was 99.4%. The modified live release rate, with deaths in foster care, at the veterinarian, and at the shelter counted with euthanasias, is 96%.

The shelter places most of its animals by adoption, with 1147 animals (71% of its 2013 intake of 1626 animals) having been adopted. This is an adoption rate of 12 per thousand people. The spring 2013 newsletter describes one challenging case — a bonded pair of large, nine-year-old dogs who were aggressive toward cats. The shelter placed the dogs with a foster who trained them to leave cats alone, and ultimately adopted both of them.

Nevada County, CA, was originally listed by this blog on April 30, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.