Love and community provide heartbeat of Routt County Humane Society |

Love and community provide heartbeat of Routt County Humane Society

Volunteers Julianna Mikula, giving Ollie a treat, and Sallie Holmes volunteer their time to walk dogs at the Routt County Humane Society’s shelter in Steamboat Springs. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Compassion, care and an unwavering passion.

These are the three elements that run the Routt County Humane Society. And it originates from the people — the staff and, of course, the volunteers.

“We rely heavily on our community to help us create an animal shelter that is humane and innovative to treat animals in body, mind and spirit when they need us the most,” said Jessica Scroble, Humane Society animal care and adoption technician. “Volunteers are a vital part of that equation and reflect our values as a community with companion animals.”

With a small facility and limited staff, volunteers fill the gaps in capacity that help enrich the animals’s lives and assist in keeping the animals healthy and happy during their stay at the shelter, Scroble said.

Claude may look grumpy, but the folks that run and the volunteers at the Routt County Humane Society say he is warm and friendly. (Photo by John F. Russell)

“Volunteers make a huge difference no matter how they help, particularly when we are busy,” said Scroble. “They help keep our animals healthy and happy, and we absolutely love them for that. Because volunteers put their hearts into everything they do here, we find ourselves deeply grateful for their involvement and hope they know how wonderful we think they are.”

Currently the shelter has about 20 devoted volunteers who spend at least a few hours once per week. When volunteers assist with tasks like kennel cleaning, it frees up staff time to concentrate on other elements that help the animals, like veterinary services, training and adoption efforts.

Scroble said, ideally, they would like the dogs to be able to take walks three times per day, which is more than staff can typically handle alone. They would also like to resume their group dog walks, which provides unique socialization benefits.

Volunteers Jim Beers and his wife, Valerie, play with Turtledove inside the Routt County Humane Society’s animal shelter in Steamboat Springs. The Beers volunteer their time to walk dogs and, on this day, spent a few minutes playing with one of the cats that are up for adoption at the shelter. (Photo by John F. Russell)

“It’s always a challenge in a seasonal community, so we always need more people to help,” Scroble said. “We would love to see at least 25 more regular volunteers on a weekly basis.”

Help in a variety of capacities at the shelter includes dog walkers, kennel cleaners, administrative help and maintenance assistance. The shelter also has junior volunteers age 13 to 17 who read to the animals or help with chores and Reading Wranglers — children younger than age 13 — must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who read to the animals.

Trained dog walkers have a chance to take one of the friendly four-legged friends on a hike around the shelter trails and sidewalks in the immediate area.

Volunteers also sign up to be kennel cleaners, Scroble said, and help with the daily cleaning and miscellaneous tasks like laundry, setting up the agility yard for training sessions, etc.

“I lost my dog a few years ago. I knew I wasn’t ready to adopt a new animal just yet, and being at the shelter gets it out of my system to spend time with the kittens, cats and dogs,” said Michael Stale, lobby assistant at the shelter.

Norma Jean is a favorite of the volunteers and staff at the Routt County Humane Society. (Photo by John F. Russell)

Chris Gribble was one of the dog walkers who also became a kennel cleaner. He moved to Steamboat in September of last year and got involved immediately with the Humane Society.

“That’s what these dogs need, is the care, love and time. It makes an impact on the animal’s life. It’s really easy to do just by spending time with it and loving it,” said Gribble, avid dog walker and kennel cleaner. He ended up adopting his dog, Vern.

I’ve always loved dogs,” he said. “ I lost mine last January and decided to make the move out here. I just wanted to be around the dogs.”

For those looking for feline friends, the shelter does offer cat-enrichment volunteer opportunities to provide socialization and love for various cat needs. Some volunteers prefer to focus on kittens, senior cats, those with special needs or those who are under-socialized and need special attention, Scroble said.

There is no hourly requirement. However, it is extremely helpful when volunteers sign up regularly. Typically, they see dedicated volunteers signing up at least once per week.

For people interested in becoming a volunteer, fill out an application online and a staff member will be in contact about signing up then scheduling an orientation to provide adequate skills to assist the staff and care for the animals.

For more volunteer opportunities, visit

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