Summit County shelter sees fewer impounded animals, more adoptions |

Summit County shelter sees fewer impounded animals, more adoptions

One of the cats up for adoption at the Summit County Animal Control and Shelter explores a toy on Wednesday, June 25, 2014.
Alli Langley / |

The Summit County Animal Control and Shelter recently released some encouraging statistics.

From 2003 to 2013, the number of local strays impounded dropped by more than half, down 57 percent in 10 years.

The shelter’s 2013 adoption rate was also much better than other shelters around the country, at 94 percent.

Summit pet owners should give themselves a pat on the back for being part of the reason behind those numbers.

“Our community has done a wonderful job of being responsible,” said the facility’s director Lesley Hall, who has worked with the shelter for 25 years.

The county’s residents have done a good job supporting animal welfare, she said, and the community is full of responsible pet owners who keep their pets under control and proactively ensure they are spayed and neutered.

“Summit County is a pet community,” she said. “People really love their pets.”

County officials believe those statistics also come from increased proactive patrolling of neighborhoods and ongoing community outreach about adoption, dog licensing and leash requirements.

Reductions in the stray population have benefits for animal welfare, public safety and wildlife protection.

Another factor is a successful spay and neuter program in collaboration with the League for Animals and People of the Summit (LAPS), a local nonprofit that raises funds for $75 spay and neuter vouchers for low-income families and individuals.

Roughly 550 animals came through the shelter last year, Hall said, and the shelter’s current euthanasia rate is about 3 percent.

She said animals at the shelter have not been euthanized for space in at least 10 years. Animals have been euthanized only for behavioral or health reasons.

Donna Corcel, who is in charge of the shelter’s community outreach, said the shelter has “adopted” the county’s elementary students.

Kindergartners through fifth-graders receive a magazine called “Kind News,” and the students at three of the county’s six elementary schools get a newsletter that teaches them about the shelter and animal control.

Some students also partake in an eight-week program in which they learn about pet safety, animal body language, spaying and neutering and the difference between wild and domestic animals.

At the middle school, Corcel said, shelter employees and volunteers have loved working with an art class where students made clay figures of specific shelter animals while learning about the animal and the communities the shelter animals come from.

The shelter is working to start a science-based program with high schoolers.

Hall said the shelter is supported by about 85 volunteers, who together put in the equivalent of a staff member working 30 hours a week.

Those interested can learn more about the volunteer program on the county’s website.

The community’s high demand for animals allows the shelter to operate a successful adoptable-pet transfer program from communities with fewer resources.

In 2013, 156 of the shelter’s adoptable animals came from county strays, owner surrenders and returned adoptions, while 160 adoptables were transferred from outside Summit County. The greater number of animals impounded still comes from within the county (358 last year).

The transfer program is not supported by the county general fund. The program is funded primarily through grants and donations and requires transfer partners to spay or neuter and vaccinate, or provide the funding for the Summit shelter to do so.

The shelter’s transfer partners for 2013 and ’14 include the Moffat County Humane Society in Craig, Colorado; Good Dog Rez-Q in Many Farms, Arizona; Pampa Animal Shelter in Pampa, Texas; CARE in Glenwood Springs; Eagle County Animal Control and the Lakota Animal Care Project on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

To contact the shelter, call (970) 668-3230 or email

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