Regional animal shelter proposed

The draft concept for a proposed new animal welfare facility in Alamosa.

ALAMOSA —Animal rescue efforts in the San Luis Valley could soon get a huge boost. Through the efforts of Alamosa County and the Denver Dumb Friends League, plans are in the works for a potential new regional animal shelter/ care center in Alamosa.

On Wednesday night, the Dumb Friends League/Colorado Animal Welfare Alliance held a community forum to gauge the local interest in such a project. The answer was a packed room at the Alamosa County Justice Center training room.

The concept for a new rescue facility project began with Alamosa County Commissioner Darius Allen approaching DFL about addressing animal welfare needs in the Valley. Those discussions have since turned into an initiative.

Duane Adams, Vice President of Community Solutions for CAWA opened the meeting by giving a brief overview of the Dumb Friends League. The mission of the Dumb Friends League is to work with compassionate communities to end pet homelessness and animal suffering in Colorado. The program operates on a $20 million annual budget. However donations are crucial to the success of the organization.

The main shelter that DFL operates is located in Denver, with additional programs and services that are available throughout the state. Those services include, pet adoptions, lost and found, pet admissions, pet behavior and training, humane education, community outreach, investigations, and equine services. Furthermore, DFL has recently expanded its outreach to include a full-service veterinary hospital in Denver. The organization is excited about the partnership possibilities that are in the San Luis Valley.

The highlight of the community event was a conversation with attendees about the current and growing animal welfare needs for the San Luis Valley facilitated by Marissa Martino, community liaison for DFL. Martino pointed out that DFL has been evaluating community needs in Alamosa and the surrounding area. She also explained that DFL is channeling efforts towards community engagement and establishing “socially conscious animal communities.” Local shelters and veterinarians have also provided a great deal of input during the process.

Through the numerous meetings that DFL has already facilitated in the Valley, some of the key animal rescue needs that have been established include additional cat resources, additional spay/neuter resources, affordable vet services, additional transfer services, and education about humane behavior. During the discussion, attendees pointed out that there is a need for increased communication to make the public more aware of the resources that are available. There was also consensus that there is a need for low-income assistance programs.

Through the public meeting process, DFL determined that there is a need for a new facility, because of a lack of capacity in already existing shelters. If the new facility moves forward, other services such as transfers, and on-site veterinary services, etc. would also be offered.

At the conclusion of the discussion, Adams and Martino presented a draft plan for a “regional animal welfare center,” in Alamosa. The new center would be located on a 5-acre tract located just east of the railroad tracks. Commissioner Allen was instrumental in securing the property.

While the project remains a concept, there seems to be a great deal of enthusiasm for making an idea a reality. The project is pending approval from the DFL board and would be funded by Denver area donors. If the facility were built, the expected completion date would be December of 2020.

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