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Movin' On With Nellie: WARNING: Help is not on the way when a stray is found

Posted: Saturday, Nov 3rd, 2012

Statewide over 105,000 dogs and 71,000 cats were brought to shelters last year. The problem is that according to Colorado Pet Fund (coloradopetfund.org) some 26,000 dogs and 6,000 cats were returned to their owners; another 48,000 dogs and 33,000 cats were adopted in Colorado. However in 2011, euthanasia was used on over 10,000 dogs and 21,000 cats in this state.

This week an elderly lady near where I live, contacted the Alamosa County Animal Control officer Donny Soapes, and the SLV Animal Welfare Society (589-9663 or 589-woof), as well as the Conour Animal Shelter (719-852-3366) in Monte Vista. Trying to contact the Estrella Shelter was useless as that animal welfare group is defunct having filed bankruptcy, she told me. The lady let me know that there was an attempt to even get the animal control officer of Alamosa which has a contract with the Valley Vet office; but they do not serve the county, only the city.

No one was available to help this disabled elderly lady who had located an abandoned puppy with brown short hair. The owners had neglected it, abandoned it and let their other dog, a slender medium sized black female that was with the puppy, wander off. That dog has not been seen in a week now.

Soapes told this elderly lady that he had nowhere to take the puppy. The Conour Animal Shelter said they would not accept any puppy that was going to grow big. They said if the stray was a Chihuahua they could take it. The SLVAWS said they had no place for the pup either and that they were over run in their own house. The latter group said the puppy could be taken on Tuesday.

However, the elderly lady was in no condition to foster a dog for a week. Even her friend was inconsiderate of her limitations by suggesting she harbor the creature for a week.

Yet the small town where the elderly lady lives would not issue a citation, and neither did it appear that Soapes left a warning for the offending animal owners.

Still another concerned citizen shared her experience that once when she was asked to foster a dog for a few days, the days turned into years. She suggested that the agencies have no intention of really helping and almost con the unsuspecting volunteers.

As it turns out, the young dog maneuvered through the elderly lady’s fence. Later the same small dog climbed the fence again.

After a while, someone else brought a small chain and was able to walk the dog back to the original home where he was left chained to the front steps. Was he fed? Was he watered? Who knows for sure?

This whole incident epitomizes the situation in the Valley. When help is needed, none of the pet organizations are ready and willing to help. One concerned citizen asked me what happened to the facilities at Estrella that were paid for by animal grants, etc. Why isn’t that shelter running? What happened? No one knows.

Besides the dogs and cats who are euthanized statewide there are dogs and cats who are killed by moving vehicles, or shot dead by farmers protecting their lands and livestocks. These numbers are in no agencies’ statistics.

Coyotes also hunt here and a dog let loose to fend for itself has such ancient and domesticated ancestors that there are no survival instincts in the genes to equal the coyote’s prowess.

It’s clear we can’t depend on animal control in any of our Valley towns; neither can we rely on the animal welfare organizations to help. It’s up to us to care for our animals, protect them in enclosed areas, and follow the leash law. A fine may not be imminent but life and death is at stake for the animals in our care. Be responsible pet owners.

Mahtma Gandi once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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