Quandary talks Summit County ecosystems and animal control
Are there different ecosystems in Summit County?
Shocking as it might be, “mountains” does not qualify as an ecosystem. For all of the people who arrive in Summit County and assume their acclimation process is over once they can successfully navigate the steps from a hotel room to the bar without needing to stop and catch their breath, this news might be a little unsettling: Our ecosystem changes at the 11,000-foot range. Yes, when you mosey into our fair cities, you are sitting in a subalpine environment. At this elevation, there are plenty of furry creatures bouncing along below the outstretched needles of some glorious pine trees, nibbling on delicate wildflowers. The oxygen and soil are thinner in this environment than what you see on the Front Range, but it can still support some forms of wildlife and a variety of plants.
Once you top that 11,000-foot mark (or 11,500-foot depending on exposure) you are in a whole different world. There is no “sub” to it anymore; you are strictly in an alpine environment. This environment is not for the faint of heart. It is a place where few things live, but almost everything can die. As you climb upward, you might notice the air seems even a little harder to come by, and the earth seems to crumble at your feet. This doesn’t mean you are suddenly some earth-moving titan pulled from Greek mythology, but rather that the environment is far more fragile. Soil here travels on winds from the valleys below and must anchor itself to a rocky point and hold fast against rain and snow to find a place to thrive; plants endure hidden beneath the thin layer of dirt, waiting for a slim window of opportunity to peek out and expose themselves to the world; and most of the animal kingdom finds themselves to be less-than-welcome guests to a hostile home.
Enjoy these peaks, but respect the plants and even the soil that have dared to make it home. Understand that one misplaced footstep can undo 100 years of hard-earned growth. Your legs might burn as you push yourself higher towards a summit, but once you’ve reached the top, realize you get to come back down and recover. The plants that call these peaks home get no such reprieve. This is why people like the trail stewards with the Colorado 14ers Initiative work so hard to maintain marked trails to our peaks. Without these trails, the thousands of people who visit Colorado’s highest mountains could easily eradicate Colorado’s toughest ecosystem.
My dog got picked up by animal control. How do I get him out of the shelter?
The animal control officers at the Summit County animal shelter take good care of the pets that mistakenly make their way in. When you head in to pull off the great escape, there are a couple things you will need: proof of a rabies vaccination and money.
Whether Fido is frothing with excitement, or not, you aren’t going to be able to convince animal control to let him go without proof it’s not rabies (at least not without your own punishment). Let’s say you did get your pup shot up, as any good dog owner should, but when you get the call and run down to the shelter, you neglect to bring proof. Unfortunately, you will still be given a citation for failure to vaccinate a pet. If you come back to the shelter (on hands and knees of course) with your proof within 20 days, they will void the citation. If the proof evades you for 21 days, you are going to be stuck paying the fine or appearing in court. That’s what hanging with the wrong crowd will get you.
If you do bring proof with you, all that’s left is paying your dues. The basic impound fee for a dog is $45 and a cat is $17. For every day that Fido does hard time, you have to pay hard cash, to the tune of $20 per day per dog, or $17 per day for a feline. If your pup ran off a few days ago and you’re not sure how long ago Johnny Law grabbed him, you are always welcome to call the animal shelter at (970) 668-3230 to see just how high the hotel bill has gotten.
If your pooch got out without wearing his jewelry and doesn’t have a microchip, the shelter will hold onto him for five days before putting him up for adoption. If your pup is microchipped, you have 10 days to go get him before animal control starts coming to get you. Now maybe, you still love Fido, but you can’t afford to bail him out and you can’t guarantee he wouldn’t run again, even if you did. You do have the option to go into the shelter and surrender your pup. However, if you choose to ignore the situation and don’t actually surrender the pet, the folks with animal control will come pay you a visits and force you to pay additional fines.
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