Grand County needs to find new home for animal shelter
The lease is set to expire in 2025
Since 1993, the Grand County Animal Control and Shelter has offered a safe haven for dogs and cats that are temporarily lost or homeless. The volunteer-run Grand County Pet Pals is the supportive arm of the shelter, which is operated by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.
The shelter has been operating at its current location on sanitation district land, but its lease is set to expire in December 2025 because the sanitation facilities are expanding. This means that if the shelter doesn’t find new land, Grand County’s pets won’t have a place to stay while they wait for their forever homes.
During the Grand County commissioners meeting on March 14, Diana Farabaugh, a Pet Pals board member, and Grand County Animal Control Officer Mary Ann Kerstiens presented the need for a new shelter.
“Grand County Pet Pals provides assistance by giving food, shelter, medical care and training to the animals that have either been abandoned or neglected in our community,” Farabaugh told the commissioners. “One of our major missions is to help to limit the overpopulation of animals in the county through our spay and neutering program, and through education to the community members.”
Another essential mission is saving the lives of animals. When dogs and cats (or even the occasional snake or goat) find themselves at the animal shelter, Pets Pals’ mission is to provide homes and long-term care options for those animals, so they avoid euthanization.
“What is it going to look like in the county if we no longer have a shelter available to us?” Farabaugh said. “We’ve experienced large growth in the county and with that, there is the potential for animals to be left homeless or abandoned if people don’t have a facility in which they can take those animals to that is close.”
Community members may be unwilling or unable to take animals to shelters outside the county. On top of that, pets that become lost would have nowhere local to be impounded while they wait for their owner to get them.
“We also think that a lot of the options for those animals decreases if there is not a shelter in the community for long-term holding for them,” she said. “Then the likelihood would actually be more euthanizations, than finding homes and adoptable places for those animals.”
The shelter also provides training and behavioral programs for animals. This way, when pets leave the shelter, there is less risk for behavioral issues, and they can safely be part of the home.
“In addition to that, the shelter has an impact on the community’s public health because when we intake animals, we provide medical care and vaccines for those animals. So when they go back into the community, we know that they’re up-to-date on current medical services,” she explained.
Lastly, Pet Pals also steps up during community crisis events, such as the East Troublesome Fire in 2020. Pet Pals housed or found temporary homes for over 80 pets that were displaced by the fire.
“During that period, the shelter in took a whole range of animals from different county residents,” she said. “So without having to shelter to be able to do that, we’re not able to support our community residents when we have these kind of crisis events.”
Farabaugh explained that all these missions make the shelter critical for the health and happiness of both humans and animals. She then gave the commissioners three requests.
“The first and the biggest request is for a grant of land for us to be able to build a new shelter … we need to find a different place that would be able to house a facility large enough for us to be able to support the community,” she said.
The current shelter is already too small for Grand’s growing animal population. The shelter frequently reaches max capacity. As of the week of March 19, the shelter has two cats and four dogs up for adoption. In 2021, over 300 animals passed through the shelter. Farabaugh stated that Pet Pals needs 3-7 acres of land to give the animals enough space.
Pet Pals volunteers have looked at potential parcels, including the Granby fairgrounds, Granby airport, lots in Hot Sulphur Springs, and Grand County Road and Bridge in Fraser. The new shelter would include a 3,000 square foot building, 18-24 kennels with attached outdoors runs, a cat room, two play yards, a horse pen and stalls and more. Pets Pals would engage with the Shelter Planners of America Consulting Service for building design.
“Grand County Pet Pals has committed to raising the funds for building the shelter, but we can’t make that happen and still pay for property, so that’s why we’re asking for a grant for the property,” Farabaugh said. “We are small and that’s a very large fundraising project for us. We get most of our money through organizational grants and then community fundraising activities.”
Her second request was that the new shelter continued to be government funded annually. As a nonprofit, Pet Pals can’t keep up funding to operate the shelter. Currently, the Grand County Sheriff’s Office funds the shelter. Farabaugh stated that towns could also support the sheriff’s office through funding. In addition, three full-time animal control officers from the Sheriff’s Department help run the shelter.
During the meeting, Sheriff Brett Schroetlin expressed that his office still plans to fund the shelter, but there should be discussions on how many animal control officers the sheriff’s office should provide.
Commissioners at the meeting added that they are committed to providing land so that the shelter can continue to provide essential services to the community’s animals, whether they are temporarily housing pets during another wildfire, or training pets for a new life in their forever home.
“We really appreciate your efforts in this whole area and all the volunteer hours that go into making this happen,” said commissioner Randy George. “This is not the first time that we have discussed the impending deadline (of lease expiration) and what should happen … Your commitment to trying to raise the funds for a building – that’s huge, that’s a big item, so thank you.”
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