Ouray and San Miguel Counties, CO

San Miguel County, located on the western border of Colorado, has 7600 residents. Ouray County, bordering San Miguel County to the east, has 4400 people. The counties are in a mountainous and sparsely populated area. Ouray County is so mountainous that it’s known as the Switzerland of America. The most populous cities in Ouray County — Ridgway and the City of Ouray — each have about 1000 inhabitants. The largest city in San Miguel County is Telluride, with a population of 2300.

The city of Telluride has its own animal control officers who impound dogs for the city and county. Telluride also has an animal shelter that adopts out dogs. The Second Chance Humane Society (SCHS), located in Ridgway, provides animal sheltering for San Miguel and Ouray counties. SCHS takes in strays and owner surrenders, both cats and dogs. I called SCHS and was told that Ouray county does not have animal control officers, and so stray intake is by citizens bringing in the strays. SCHS has a waiting list for owner surrenders.

The state of Colorado collects statistics on animal shelters in the state. In 2012, the city of Telluride took in 40 dogs (4 strays and 36 confiscated), returned 35 to their owners, transferred 3, and euthanized 1 for a live release rate of 97%. SCHS took in 294 dogs and cats in 2012 and had a 97% live release rate. One animal died in shelter care at SCHS, but that did not change the live release rate.

In 2013, the city of Telluride took in 47 animals and had a 100% live release rate.  SCHS in 2013 had a substantial increase in intake with 380 animals for the year. Their live release rate was 99% as stated in their 2013 annual report.

Ouray and San Miguel Counties were originally listed by this blog on November 12, 2013, based on their 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Cedaredge, CO

Cedaredge (population 2300) and Orchard City (3100) are located in Delta County in western Colorado. Development in the county has been primarily along two river valleys, following the Surface Creek and North Fork rivers. Much of the rest of the county outside the river valleys is mountainous and very sparsely inhabited.

Cedaredge and Orchard City are in the Surface Creek valley, which is served by the Surface Creek Shelter (SCS), located in Cedaredge. Cedaredge has its own animal control, which takes in dogs only. SCS is managed by a non-profit, the Friends of Cedaredge Animal Control (FCAC). I was told by a shelter official that FCAC has a memorandum of understanding to impound the dogs picked up by Cedaredge animal control. In addition to Cedaredge dogs, SCS takes in non-feral stray cats, stray dogs, and owner-surrendered dogs and cats from the residents of Surface Creek valley, including Orchard City. SCS charges a small fee for owner surrenders and usually has a waiting list, but they make exceptions to the waiting list when needed. There are rescues in the county who do TNR for feral cats.

Statistics submitted to the Colorado Department of Agriculture by FCAC for 2012 show that SCS’s intake, including strays and owner surrenders, was 313 cats and dogs. The live release rate was 95% (94% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care were counted in with euthanasias). In 2013, FCAC reported an intake of 314 animals and a live release rate of 99%. The live release rate was 97% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care are included with euthanasias.

The North Fork area of Delta County has also been doing very well at animal sheltering, but their animal shelter system has been unstable. Therefore I’m not listing those communities at this time.

Cedaredge was originally listed by this blog on November 16, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

90% Reported – Mission Viejo, CA

[NOTE: The 90% Reported category lists communities whose animal shelter systems report having been at a 90%+ live release rate for at least one year but who do not qualify for a listing in the right sidebar because they do not make their full statistics easily accessible online.]

Mission Viejo is a large planned community southeast of Los Angeles, with a population of about 93,000 people. The cities of Aliso Viejo (population 48,000) and Laguna Niguel (population 62,000) are just southwest of Mission Viejo.

Mission Viejo Animal Services (MVAS) is a municipal agency that provides animal control and sheltering services for all three cities. A non-profit, the Dedicated Animal Welfare Group (DAWG), provides substantial support to the shelter, especially for animals requiring medical care. DAWG also pays all expenses for animals transferred in from outside the jurisdiction, so that they will not be a burden on city taxpayers. DAWG’s 20-year anniversary is coming up in 2015.

MVAS takes in strays impounded by animal control and accepts owner surrenders. The shelter will take owner surrendered dogs from anywhere as long as they meet health and temperament requirements, but it accepts owner-surrendered cats only from its jurisdiction. The shelter has had a temporary waiting list for cats recently as it completes a new cattery. Once the cattery is opened, MVAS hopes to be able to accept cats from surrounding jurisdictions as well as its own jurisdiction. MVAS will not accept surrenders of aggressive animals or animals who have untreatable medical illnesses. MVAS does not provide owner-requested euthanasia.

Mission Viejo is located in Orange County, California, which has a county shelter. The county shelter received some animals in fiscal year 2013-2014 from Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, and Laguna Niguel. The county shelter provides owner-requested euthanasia, but the shelter director stated that it is limited to animals who are “irremediably suffering” as verified by a veterinarian or have a history of aggression as defined by state law. The county does not break out owner-requested euthanasias separately from other euthanasias.

Sharon Cody, a former city council member for Mission Viejo and the president of DAWG, sent me information and statistics for MVAS and the county shelter for fiscal year 2013-2014. The county shelter report broke out the intake and disposition of animals from the three communities served by MVAS. Therefore, the combined statistics should represent all intake and disposition of domestic pets for the fiscal year for the three jurisdictions.

For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, total intake was 1226 for MVAS plus 170 animals taken in by the county from MVAS jurisdictions. The combined live release rate for the fiscal year was 92%, including owner-requested euthanasia. It is not possible to provide a modified live release rate including animals who died in shelter care because MVAS includes those animals in a “miscellaneous release” category that also includes live releases such as transfers to rescue. Based on the information sent to me by Sharon, however, it appears that 3 to 5 animals may have died in shelter care, which would not be enough to change the live release rate.

MVAS has an exceptionally high return-to-owner rate. Out of 951 strays impounded in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, the shelter reported returning 524 to their owners for an overall return-to-owner rate of 55%, including cats. In fiscal year 2013-2014 the number of strays taken in was 1061 and the return-to-owner rate was 47% including cats.

Sharon told me that the MVAS jurisdictions do have some restrictions on the number of animals per household. She is not aware of any breed restrictions, however, either by the MVAS jurisdictions or the homeowner associations in the area. She said that DAWG provided $80,000 in veterinary treatment during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, “saving every animal that could be treated.” A feral cat program has reduced feral cat euthanasia from 35 two years ago to just 3 in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

I have listed the communities served by MVAS as “90% Reported” rather than in the right sidebar as “90% Documented” because I received the statistics from a private party rather than from the directors of MVAS and the county shelter.

Montrose, CO

Montrose is a city of 19,000 people located near the western border of Colorado. It is the county seat of Montrose County, which has a population of 41,000 people.

The city has municipal agencies that provide animal control and sheltering. The animal shelter serves both the city and the county. The shelter takes in strays and owner surrenders, with owner surrenders subject to a waiting list. A shelter representative I spoke with told me that the wait period for owner surrenders currently is about one month. All animals, including cats and dogs under 6 months, are spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter.

In 2011, the shelter’s annual report showed an 87% live release rate (that figure includes owner-requested euthanasia). The 2011 live release rate was 85% if animals who died in shelter care are included. The euthanasias include 116 feral cats. In 2012, the county’s report to the state of Colorado showed that the live release rate improved to 93%, with an intake of 1270 animals. The live release rate including animals who died or were lost in shelter care was 92%.

The shelter’s 2013 report to the state of Colorado showed an intake of 1151 animals. The live release rate was 90%. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias, the live release rate was 89%.

Montrose County was originally listed by this blog on November 1, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

New Look — New Criteria

I’d like to thank everyone for their patience while the blog has been undergoing changes the last three months. I’ve still got some tweaking and editing to do, but the blog is mostly back together again now, with the running totals, a re-worked right sidebar, and a couple of new pages. The right sidebar now lists 144 communities that have been at or above a 90% live release rate for at least one year and make their statistics publicly available. This category – 90% Documented – is the one I’m going to concentrate on, and the other categories (90% Reported and Worth Watching) will not be updated as frequently.

Please keep in mind that “the list” on this blog is not a comprehensive list of 90%+ communities. For one thing, it would take a whole team of people working 40-hour weeks to identify, research in depth, write up, and update all the communities that are either at 90%+ or closing in on it. And it’s complicated because everyone has a different idea of how to calculate 90%, or whether that should even be the standard in the first place. The list should therefore be viewed as illustrative, not definitive.

In other news, I’m very involved right now in writing a book on the origins of the No Kill movement. This project has included doing about 3 dozen interviews so far, reading 40 or so books (most of them very obscure), and sifting through about 5 reams of documents, not to mention what I’ve found online. It’s a fun project but it’s much bigger than I thought. It’s amazing how far the history of No Kill reaches back, and how many people have been crucial in making it what it is today. Needless to say, this has been keeping me extremely busy!

Routt County, CO

Routt County is located in northwest Colorado, bordering Wyoming. The population recorded in the 2010 census was 23,500. The county seat is the city of Steamboat Springs, which has 12,000 people.

Steamboat Springs has a city-run animal control and shelter called the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter (SSAS). SSAS serves the entire county, including all the incorporated and unincorporated towns. I was told in a telephone call to SSAS that Routt County has its own animal control officers but contracts with Steamboat Springs for strays to be taken in by SSAS. The shelter official told me that SSAS takes in owner surrenders for the city and the county. Once in a while the shelter gets full, and when that happens they ask owners who want to surrender animals if they can wait. If the owner cannot wait, SSAS takes the animal immediately.

The shelter gets support and volunteer help from the Routt County Humane Society (RCHS). A newsletter that is no longer available online described how RCHS volunteers staff the shelter to extend the hours that it is open to the public, and raise funds for spaying and neutering and medical care for shelter animals. RCHS covers the veterinary care and the spay-neuter expenses of 90% of the animals that SSAS takes in. As an example of an animal that would not have survived without medical care provided by RCHS, the newsletter describes the case of a 4-week-old puppy who stopped nursing and required several days of intensive care before he recovered. RCHS also provides assistance for low-income families to spay and neuter their pets.

The most recent RCHS newsletter reports that 90% of stray dogs and 10% of stray cats impounded by SSAS are returned to their owners. Although the return-to-owner rate for cats may not sound too good, it’s about 5 times higher than I usually see. Dogs with extraordinary expenses that were saved recently by RCHS included a dog that was so malnourished that both its front legs broke not long after impoundment, and a dachshund that had to have all her teeth extracted. Both are now doing well.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture collects information on the statistics of animal shelters in the state. The 2012 report submitted by SSAS shows a total intake of 625 animals. Intake per 1000 people was 27. The live release rate was 98%. One animal died in shelter care, but if that is counted in with euthanasias it does not change the live release rate. The Colorado reporting form does not separate out owner-requested euthanasia.

In 2013, SSAS total intake was 635 animals, with a live release rate of 99.3%. If the two animals who died in shelter care are counted in with euthanasias, the live release rate was 99.0%.

Routt County was originally listed by this blog on October 24, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Rio Blanco County, CO

Rio Blanco County is located in the northwestern part of Colorado on the Utah border. The 2010 census counted 6700 county residents, including the towns of Rangely (population 2400) and Meeker (2500). The County has two animal shelters, one serving Rangely and the other serving Meeker. Both shelters also accept animals picked up by the sheriff in unincorporated areas of the county.

The Rangely Animal Shelter (RAS) is a municipal agency that handles animal control and sheltering for Rangely. Animals are vaccinated, neutered, and microchipped before being adopted. The RAS manager told me that they have a small, waivable fee for owner surrenders and will either take them in immediately or help the owner place the pet. They have a TNR program and they adopt out kittens born to feral mothers. The statistics submitted to the state by RAS for 2012 show a live release rate of 99%. The live release rate does not change if the one animal who died in shelter care in 2012 is included with euthanasias. In 2013, RAS took in 313 animals and had a 99.7% live release rate. The live release rate was 99.3% if the one animal who died in shelter care is included with euthanasias.

The Meeker Animal Shelter (MAS) is also a municipal agency that provides animal control as well as sheltering. I spoke to the animal control officer, who told me that although MAS does not impound cats, she will respond to calls about sick or injured cats and take them to a local veterinarian. MAS accepts owner surrenders subject, at times, to a monitored waiting list. A rescue in Meeker called the Cat Coalition does TNR in the area. MAS took in 107 dogs in 2012 and had a 99% live release rate. The shelter took in 115 dogs in 2013 with a live release rate of 100%. No animals died or were lost in shelter care in 2013.

Rio Blanco County was originally listed by this blog on December 9, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Lamar, CO

Lamar is a city of 7800 people located in southeastern Colorado. Lamar has its own animal control and a municipal shelter, the Lamar Animal Shelter (LAS). The Lamar animal control site states: “Since late 2008, early 2009, the Lamar Animal Shelter and the Code Enforcement Officers have striven to avoid euthanizing animals which come into the shelter.

The Second Chance Animal Rescue Foundation (SCARF) is also located in Lamar. SCARF has no physical shelter, but houses animals in foster homes. A volunteer with SCARF told me that they rescue animals from a six-county area in southeastern Colorado. Both LAS and SCARF take in owner surrenders from Lamar on a space-available basis, and SCARF networks with other rescues for owner surrenders. LAS only takes in dogs, but SCARF takes in both dogs and cats. SCARF has a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats and two big spay-neuter clinics each year.

Statistics from the Colorado Department of Agriculture show that LAS had an intake of 329 dogs in 2012, with a live release rate of 99.7%. Two dogs died or were lost in shelter care, and when they are included with euthanasias the live release rate for LAS was 99.0%. SCARF took in 385 cats and dogs, with a 100% live release rate. The Lamar Animal Sanctuary Team (LAST) also reports to the state. They took in 79 strays and owner surrenders in 2012, with a 100% live release rate.

In 2013, LAS reported an intake of 343 animals with a 99% live release rate. No animals died in shelter care. SCARF reported an intake of 518 animals with a live release rate of 100% and no animals dying in shelter care. LAST took in 87 animals and had a 100% live release rate. Their modified live release rate, counting the one animal who died in shelter care, was 98%.

Lamar was originally listed by this blog on November 14, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Lake County, CO

Lake County is in west central Colorado and has a population of 7300 people. The city of Leadville, the county seat, has 2600 inhabitants. Lake County is in an extremely mountainous area, and it has an elevation that is mostly above 9000 feet. The county contains the highest peak in Colorado, Mt. Elbert.

The Leadville/Lake County Animal Shelter (LLCAS) is run by the city and county. I called the shelter and was told that LLCAS accepts owner surrenders from its jurisdiction subject to a small fee and on a space-available basis. The shelter is open 7 days a week and closes only on major holidays.

Statistics from the Colorado Department of Agriculture for 2012 show that LLCAS took in 181 dogs and cats in 2012 and had a live release rate of 99% for 2012 (98% if the one animal who died in shelter care is included with euthanasias). The shelter’s intake was 25 animals per 1000 people in 2012.

In 2013, the shelter’s intake increased to 208 animals. The live release rate was 99%, or 96% if the animals who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias.

Lake County was originally listed by this blog on November 25, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Grand County, CO

Grand County is in north central Colorado and had a population of 15,000 people as of the 2010 census. Municipalities in Grand County include Granby (population 1700), Kremmling (1400), and Winter Park, a resort town with a permanent population of 1000.

I spoke to an official at the Grand County Animal Shelter (GCAS), located in Granby, who told me that the county sheriff’s department runs the shelter. GCAS serves the entire county, including the towns, and there are no other shelters in the county. Grand County Pet Pals (GCPP) is a private non-profit that assists GCAS and maintains the GCAS website. Grand County is also home to Mountain Pet Rescue (MPR), a foster-based rescue located in Winter Park. MPR specializes in transporting heavy-coated dogs of the working breeds in from out of state. These dogs are popular in the Colorado mountains and MPR reports that there is a shortage of them.

GCAS charges a $20 fee for owner surrenders. Sometimes they ask people to wait to surrender animals if the shelter is full, but they always make exceptions if the owner cannot wait or if they think the animal would be better off impounded. Their general rule is to accept owner surrenders only from their jurisdictions, but they have occasionally made exceptions in the past and taken surrenders from outside the jurisdiction. They do not have a TNR program, but they have live traps that they lend to people who trap ferals. The shelter then neuters the cats and places them as barn cats.

Shelters in Colorado report their statistics to the state’s Department of Agriculture each year. In 2012, GCAS took in 309 dogs and cats. This is an intake of 21 pets per 1000 human population. If MPR’s intake is counted, the intake is 45 pets per 1000 population. GCAS’s live release rate for 2012 was 98%. The live release rate was 97% if animals who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias. MPR also submits statistics to the state. In 2012 they took in 354 dogs, of which 301 were transported in from out of state, and they took in 6 owner-surrendered cats. They had a 100% live release rate, which drops to 99% if the 4 dogs who died in their care are counted against their live releases.

In 2013, GCAS took in 266 animals and had a 99% live release rate. They had no animals die in shelter care and did not report any owner-requested euthanasia. MPR reported taking in 515 dogs and 9 cats in 2013, with a 99.8% live release rate. MPR’s live release rate was 99.6% if the one dog who died in shelter care is counted against the live release rate.

Grand County was originally listed by this blog on December 12, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.