Summit County Animal Shelter sees record number of adoptions
FRISCO — As people are limited in ways to socialize in person due to the coronavirus pandemic, some have turned to other forms of companionship. Pet adoptions are increasing throughout the country with people’s extended time at home, and Summit County is no different.
“Since COVID-19 started our adoptions obviously went way up,” Lesley Hall, Summit County Animal Control and Shelter director, said. “For the month of March we adopted 50 animals. … I’m pretty sure 50 is a record.”
For comparison, the shelter saw 39 total adoptions of dogs, cats and small mammals in February and 46 in January, which Hall thinks was the previous record. There were 33 adoptions in March 2019. Because of the spike, there were only six cats included in the shelter’s weekly listing and as of Sunday afternoon, April 19, there were six animals — four cats and two dogs — on the shelter’s website.
On average, Hall estimates that the shelter houses around 15 dogs and at least 20 or so cats. Dogs have an average length of stay of 11 days while cats stay for about 15 days, though some of that is due to the timing of weekly veterinarian visits that occur before a pet can be adopted. The shelter has a capacity of 20 two-sided dog kennels, and Hall said they prefer not to double up on kennel space for cleaning purposes.
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The shelter is also leaving room in case there’s a spike in COVID-19 cases and sick people need a place to drop off their animals if they don’t have family members to look after them.
“Twenty (dogs) would be really full for us,” Hall said. “If we went to 40 that would be very full.”
As of now the shelter doesn’t have to worry about reaching 40 dogs due to the increased demand. In early April a group of puppies got claimed from a Facebook post before they could be put on the shelter’s site.
“We got so much interest in them and so many applications that we didn’t even put them on the web because we had more homes than we had puppies,” Hall said.
Due to the coronavirus, adoption at the Summit County Animal Shelter is by appointment only. Visit CO.Summit.CO.US/538/Animal-Control-Shelter for applications and additional information. Call 970-668-3230 with questions.
Of the six animals currently in the shelter, all but one was dropped off this April. An 8-year-old cat name Catalonia has been in the shelter since March 2019. Yet the coronavirus has led to a couple of animals who have stayed for a long period of time at the shelter getting adopted. In April a 4 year-old cat named Nutmeg, who had been there since June, and Tinkerbell, who arrived at the shelter in October, left to their new homes.
“It’s really nice when you see some of the old timers get a home finally,” Hall said. “There is a home for every pet, it’s just about finding the right one.”
Most of the current animals are coming from out of state partners in areas such as Texas, New Mexico and Kansas, which usually amounts for about half the center’s population. As Coloradans on the Front Range or nearby Eagle County adopt more, Hall isn’t seeing any in-state transfers.
“The transports that they’re allowing are if the shelter is closed and an emergency situation has arisen,” Hall said. “These puppies came from Pampa, Texas, because they are closing their shelter and euthanizing dogs because of the closure.”
Along with more animals being adopted, the coronavirus has affected how the shelter handles daily operations. People are still prioritized on a first-come, first-served basis — with a small waitlist if someone changes their mind — but it is now by appointment only once an online application is filled out. Control officers are still making their normal patrols and staff are working remotely. The building is closed to walk-in volunteers.
While a veterinarian still comes weekly to administer vaccines and microchips, the animals aren’t being spayed and neutered like they normally would unless it is an emergency. Instead, adopters have to put $150 down and agree to have the pet spayed or neutered once the pandemic is over.
“We figure $150 is a significant amount of money for most people and they will return for their deposit,” Hall said. “And Summit County is a great county for population control. Most people want their pets spayed and neutered. But for us since we’re so used to it, it’s a bit uncomfortable.”
A tip that Hall has for first-time adopters is to be patient with their pet as they adjust to the new surroundings.
“Don’t set a super high expectation,” Hall said. “This is all new to them. You’re home is different than whatever previous home they’ve been in.”
However, the most important thing to keep in mind is that your new pet will likely be around longer than the pandemic.
“Make sure that you’re going to have time for it,” Hall said. “Now is a great time to work on bonding and training for your pet, but realize that you’re going to be going back to work here soon. This is a commitment for the lifetime of the pet. … Have a plan if the dog is still in a chewing stage or if the cat may get along with your other cat, only until you leave the room.”
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