Time is ticking for shelter shepherd | SteamboatToday.com

Time is ticking for shelter shepherd

City sees increase in abandoned pets

Danie Harrelson

— Like many of the animals at the Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter, Baxter has been waiting a long time for a good home. The 6-year-old German Shepherd mix was left at the shelter three months ago.

Fearful that their dog might be quickly put to sleep by a shelter in California, Baxter’s owners drove all the way to Steamboat Springs to give him a better chance to live.

Now his wait may be almost over.

City law says that animals held longer than 10 days at the shelter must be euthanized.

The police department has given Baxter a five-day grace period, and shelter worker Kirsten Grabenstatter is scrambling to find him and other animals at the shelter a home.

Grabenstatter has seen a large influx of animals in recent weeks.

The shelter can only keep the animals for so long until it must comply with city law and have them euthanized.

“We try to hold on to animals for as long as we can,” Grabenstatter said.

Too often, it’s not long enough, and the animals must be put to sleep.

Two basset hounds will be put to sleep today unless someone can adopt them, she added.

Shelter workers often grow attached to animals that remain in their care for a long time, but the rule must still be enforced, Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said.

“Ten days is a realistic amount of time,” Fiebing said. “Otherwise, we would have 100 dogs roaming around the city.”

Potential owners aren’t adopting animals at the shelter, and those who have pets too often are not responsible enough to have them spayed or neutered, he added.

“There are no bad animals, just bad pet owners,” Fiebing said.

Sanne Pollak, an animal control officer at the shelter, wants would-be pet owners to remember that a puppy or kitten can be a 15-year commitment.

“So many people want that cute little puppy or kitten,” she said. “But they fail to ask themselves, ‘Am I willing to commit to the financial and time demands of having a pet?'”

The shelter is currently seeking donations to cover a hefty $1,000 price tag to spay or neuter four dogs and six cats.

Caring for the animals can be expensive, Pollak said.

Owners who turn over their animal to the shelter must pay a $15 surrender fee.

Most people fill out the paperwork, but a few leave their cat or dog at the shelter’s door for staff and volunteers to find in the morning, Grabenstatter said.

A $15 fee doesn’t go far. It costs $100 to spay or neuter an animal and $25 for vaccinations.

It costs another $10 to $15 to feed them for 10 days, she said.

Staff must also be paid to feed and care for the animals, and an additional $45 is needed if the animal must be euthanized.

“It’s a shame, because we have some really nice animals but no one to adopt them,” Grabenstatter said.

The shelter is seeking donations from the community. Staff and volunteers hope that future shelter animals can avoid Baxter’s situation.

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