Routt County Humane Society poised to take over control of Steamboat’s animal shelter in May
Steamboat Springs — Routt County residents and their animals soon could see an animal shelter that offers more services and stays open seven days per week.
The city of Steamboat Springs and the Routt County Humane Society are working on a plan to have the Humane Society take over operations of the city’s animal shelter May. 1.
Under the new arrangement, the Humane Society plans to expand services like behavioral training for animals, add staff and stay open the additional hours.
“We’re thrilled,” said Molly Waters, co-president of the Humane Society. “I think this has been a long time coming. It’s really exciting, and we’re very happy the city recognizes our contribution that we’ve made thus far and that they trust us to continue running the shelter in a really positive way that’s really going to benefit the animals of the community and in all of Routt County.”
The Humane Society met with city officials Wednesday to discuss the plan.
Both organizations said it was a very productive meeting, and they resolved to aim to make the change in May.
The new plan comes a year after the city passed on a previous business proposal it solicited from the Humane Society to take over the shelter because the proposal would have cost the city more money than it currently pays to run it.
The Humane Society submitted another business proposal recently after their desire to take over shelter operations earned support from several members of the Steamboat Springs City Council.
Joel Rae, the city’s public safety director, said Thursday that the agreement being worked on now would be a wash financially for the city.
“For them to be able to provide a level of service that is equal to or greater than what the city is currently providing is a win-win situation,” Rae said. “We are still in the negotiations phase at this point, and all indications are things are looking good to be able to pass over shelter operations to the Humane Society with a May 1 date. But we have a lot of work leading up to that.”
Rae said shelter policy manuals need to be reviewed and the operating agreement needs to be ironed out.
The Humane Society also will need to ensure continued funding from Routt County and embark on a fundraising campaign so that it can expand the services, Waters said.
Waters said the organization will look to purchase new equipment and secure a vehicle so it can transport animals to things like veterinary appointments.
The Humane Society’s move to take over the shelter is poised to provide benefits to the city, the Humane Society and the community.
Waters said it will allow the Humane Society to secure grant funding more easily, increase its staff, bolster its volunteer program and ultimately have more control over the operations of the shelter.
“We were denied grant funding in the past because (the grantor) couldn’t figure out the relationship between the city and our organization,” Waters said. “It will just be a lot more clear now.”
The new business proposal also will grant the city’s animal control officers more time to focus on enforcement and other duties instead of tending to the shelter.
The city’s contribution to the shelter under the plan would be $80,000, about the same as the $77,000 it projects it currently is spending to subsidize it, Waters said.
For Marilyn McCaulley, the plan for the Humane Society to take over shelter operations has been almost 30 years in the making.
McCaulley said that the year after she founded the Humane Society in 1985, former Steamboat City Manager Harvey Rose approached her with the idea of the Humane Society taking over the shelter.
“At that point, we did not have the volunteers to be able to make that a reality,” McCaulley said. “But now we have some awesome volunteers and some awesome energy, so we are making it a reality.”
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