Eagle County Animal Shelter boots humane society | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Animal Shelter boots humane society

Melanie WongVail, Colorado
Kristin Anderson/Vail DailyChar Quinn, of the Eagle Valley Humane Society, plays with a stray puppy Thursday at Edwards' Wags & Whiskers, where the organization is currently housed.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado Ongoing fights between the Eagle County Animal Shelter and the Eagle Valley Humane Society have caused the two organizations to part ways.The two agencies had worked together to get animals adopted since 1994 and shared space in Eagle since 1997, when the county animal shelter was built. Earlier this week, county officials terminated the Humane Societys lease on the building and asked it to move out.County Community Development Director Keith Montag said the county had an agreement with the Humane Society to provide rent-free office space in the shelter as long as the organizations respected their separate roles and kept open communication.We felt there were times there wasnt good communication, and that was a default of the operating agreement, he said.

But county and the Humane Society workers said that disagreements over how animals should be cared for had been brewing for the past few years.

There were several cases where Humane Society volunteers thought that shelter animals were not being properly cared for, said Char Quinn, executive director of the Humane Society.But County Animal Services Director Natalie Duck said that is absolutely not true.The staff at the animal shelter take great pride in their work. We all work there because we love animals, she said. Its a challenging job, but its a group of caring people who are all there for the right reasons.Also, the organizations disagreed on which animals should be euthanized and which could be adopted, said Humane Society President Bill Loper.For example, if there are behavioral problems with a dog, can we train it and adopt it out, or is it just vicious and needs to be put down? he said. Weve been battling with them for two years about how to care for animals. The county isnt set up to be overly concerned about animal welfare.Duck said those are always challenging decisions, and the county is liable for the animals that are adopted into the community.Humane Society volunteers said the relationship between the agencies deteriorated to a point that Humane Society workers were not even allowed to go into areas where animals were kept.Duck said that Humane Society volunteers broke shelter rules, such as one saying animals should always be fed the same food.Its really important that the animals get routine, she said. Its stressful for the animal if that gets changed.

Loper said the Humane Society should have had more of a stake in the shelter. The Humane Society helped fund and design the shelter building, and has worked to make the shelter a no-kill shelter through animal training and medical care, he said.We worked well with the county, but since the new (county) director came on, our input has been gradually diminished and our volunteers were eased out of the loop, Loper said.The county decided to break the partnership after a complaint was filed against the animal shelter by the Bureau of Animal Protection about a month ago.A dog was in a car accident in Garfield County one of the owners was killed in the accident, and the dog was hurt. The dog was brought to Eagle County for care late at night, and Duck said she decided to wait until the morning to treat the dog or give it pain medication, because the owners were not there and she did not know the dogs medical history.

The dog jumped in and out of the truck, walked in and was very comfortable, she said. In my professional opinion it was important to wait until we could get a hold the owner to participate in the treatment, and they were extremely appreciative of that.The dog was taken to Castle Peak Veterinary Services in the morning, where veterinarians treated it for a facial fracture and abrasions, said veterinarian Denny Simonton.A Castle Peak employee mentioned the incident to Quinn, a state animal cruelty officer, who reported it to the state, but did not manage the case.The complaint was investigated by the Eagle County district attorney and eventually dismissed.(The shelter) could have been more aggressive with treatment, but the dog was not in shock or had any life threatening injuries, Simonton said.

For now the Humane Society is working out of Wags and Whiskers in Edwards and has 16 pets in foster homes waiting for adoption.We dont have a place and we cant handle huge numbers, Loper said. Well need some help from the community to make up for some of the shortcomings in medical assistance and foster homes.:Simonton said the split is unfortunate, because the animal shelter can pick up animals and the Humane Society can re-train them for adoption.Animal care in this valley will really suffer because of this, he said. Its been a valuable relationship.

Eagle Valley Humane Society: http://adoptafriend.org/ Eagle County Animal Services: http://www.eaglecounty.us/animal/Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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