Helping Hands: Giving pets a chance in Summit County
Twenty years ago, employees at the Summit County Animal Control and Shelter wanted to help their employer’s cause beyond what they could accomplish at their 9-5 jobs. Together, they formed the League for Animals & People of the Summit, which has since grown into a well-known community nonprofit with 250 members. “They wanted to do something to help the overpopulation problem,” said Sally Beerup, L.A.P.S. president. “As you read anyplace in magazines or the newspaper, there’s just thousands upon thousands of animals that are put down every year in shelters and facilities because they can’t be adopted out.”L.A.P.S. works to reduce pet overpopulation through spay and neutering, and helps fund high veterinarian bills for low-income families that live or work in Summit County. Beerup said since the organization’s inception, they have been able to help significantly lower the shelter’s euthanasia rate. Twenty years ago, Beerup estimates the shelter was putting down about 15 percent of its animals. That figure is now 1-2 percent, and includes animals who needed to be put down because of medical reasons.”Our (animal shelter) is as close to no-kill as you can get,” Beerup said. “We’re really proud to be working with them to help with that.” Beerup said the overpopulation prevention program has been so successful, the Frisco shelter is actually able to take in litters from other shelters who aren’t able to find them homes. “We want to prevent the death of animals who don’t deserve to have that done to them,” Beerup said. “Perfectly healthy animals should be able to be adopted out.” Last year, L.A.P.S. helped a little more than 300 pets. “Being able to help that many animals a year is impressive,” Beerup said. She said the majority of that number were animals who were spayed or neutered, but cost-wise, the organization spends about half of their funds on pets who need surgery. People who need assistance with their pet’s medical bills can apply for a donation from L.A.P.S. through their veterinarian. Karen McDonough received assistance for her dog’s surgery last summer. Boru – adopted from the Frisco animal shelter in 2000 – had a large tumor on his lung that could only be treated through surgery. The cost of the operation was $3,500, to be paid in full up front. McDonough said the large bill came at a bad time, and she wasn’t able to afford the whole thing. L.A.P.S. helped to pay for the surgery, and Boru made a full recovery.”He’s just great; he’s still doing things puppies do,” McDonough said. Before Boru’s surgery, McDonough had been a L.A.P.S. member for years. She is still a member, but now also volunteers her time at the nonprofit’s fundraising events – like the recent DogTerra race at the Gold Run Nordic Center. “It’s a lot of fun for a great cause. What they gave to me I want to give back,” McDonough said. “I can’t say enough in praise of this organization; Sally works so hard.”
Beerup said L.A.P.S. is also a large promoter of dog parks within the county. A few years ago, the organization donated proceeds from their DogTerra event to the Town of Breckenridge to enclose the dog park inside Carter Park. She said she would like to more dog parks within the community.”I’d like to see them all over,” she said. “There are so many dogs who are only walked on a leash, would you want to be leashed for your life? I would like an area where a dog could be a dog without running into trouble for themselves or their owner.”Beerup said a bona fide dog park would have separate areas for active and older or smaller dogs, a water source (a creek if possible), shading areas, double gates to prevent dogs from running out when someone new enters, benches for observers, and even an agility course. She said dog parks are not only mentally and physically beneficial for pets, but owners as well. “It’s just mentally good for you to watch animals. I think it lifts your spirits,” she said. “They are just loving, forgiving animals, and we should be kinder to them in every respect.”
L.A.P.S. raises most of their money through four major fundraisers throughout the year: the recently-held DogTerra, where dogs compete in events like snow joring, Frisbee and flyball; the Let’s Go Boating sailing event at the Dillon Marina every June; the Canine 4K Run/Walk in Frisco every July; and a pet holiday photo session in November. Beerup said the nonprofit also receives money through membership fees, many small donors throughout the community, and The Summit Foundation. A majority of the funds from The Summit Foundation’s annual grant to L.A.P.S. goes to the shelter to spay and neuter adoptive animals.
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