Eagle County animal shelter reopening

Interim animal services supervisor Nathan Lehnert, left, vaccinates Tika the cat with the help of animal services officer Jim DeSilver at the Eagle County Animal Shelter on Monday. Although the shelter is not currently open for regular hours, it will have an open house June 18.
Townsend Bessent | |

Animal shelter operations

The Eagle County Animal Shelter is now open by appointment for services, including adoptions.

A grand reopening and open house is scheduled for June 18.

Call 970-328-3647 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

While there are no animals currently available at the shelter, those looking to adopt can monitor or for updates.

You can also call Colorado Animal Rescue at 970-947-9173 in Glenwood; Summit County Animal Shelter at 970-668-3230 in Frisco; or other animal rescue facilities for pet availability.

Animal control continues to operate 7 days a week.

To report a stray or a dangerous animal, or to reclaim a lost pet, call 970-328-3647. Within the town of Basalt, call the Basalt Police Department at 970-927-4316.

EAGLE — Eagle County’s animal shelter is open again, and the county will not be partnering with the Eagle Valley Humane Society, at least not right now.

The animal shelter will be open by appointment only and is again handling pet adoptions, county officials announced.

The county closed its $1.2 million animal shelter a month ago when county officials laid off two staffers and the former director resigned.

Among the allegations were a ringworm infestation in the animal shelter, but that was cleaned up well before anyone was fired or laid off, said Nathan Lehnert, interim director of Eagle County’s animal services.

On the heels of closing the animal shelter and slashing staff, the Eagle Valley Humane Society has billed the county $16,500 for accepting and caring for animals that they say the county’s animal services department should have been looking after, but its shelter was closed. The Humane Society says it spends an average of $750 per animal in its care.

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The county spends an average of $500 on the animals it handles, according to county’s data.

Fourth director since 2010

When the county closed its shelter last month, the Humane Society took some of the animals. Some of the others were sent to other shelters in the region.

That narrowed the county’s focus to animal control and pet licensing. In closing its shelter, the county also eliminated pet adoptions, owner surrenders and low-cost vaccinations. Animal cruelty and livestock investigations became the responsibility of local and state law enforcement.

The county laid off the two employees who handled pet adoptions and lost its fourth director since 2010 — three members of its seven-person animal services staff.

However, under recently departed Animal Services Director Daniel Ettinger, adoptions increased and the time animals spent in the shelter decreased, according to the county’s statistics.

The $13,340 divide

After it closed the animal shelter, the county’s tentative plan was to partner its animal services department with the Eagle Valley Humane Society. However, that plan hit the skids when the county offered the Humane Society $1,660 a month for three months.

In a meeting with the county commissioners and administrators, the Humane Society countered by asking for $15,000 a month for four months, leaving the two sides facing a $13,340 monthly divide.

Amy Loper, attorney for the local Humane Society, said people with the organization are “frustrated.”

“I don’t think there will be an agreement,” Loper said.

Gabe Shalley chairs the Humane Society’s board of directors. When the group sat down with the county commissioners earlier this month, Shalley made it clear that when the county closed its animal shelter, the Humane Society had taken on some of the animal services department’s work without compensation.

Local veterinarians pitched in to help house some animals, and valley locals offered foster homes for others, said Char Gonsenica, Eagle Valley Humane Society director.

“This cannot continue,” Shalley told the commissioners. “You’re passing off a scope of services to an organization that already performs those services.”

That was why the Humane Society submitted its bill for $16,500.

Been here before

The county and the Humane Society have been down this road before. The two began working together on animal adoptions in 1994 and shared the animal shelter space beginning in 1997. The agreement provided the Humane Society rent-free office space in the shelter, as long as the organizations respected their separate roles.

The partnership deteriorated after years of escalating conflicts and collapsed few years later when the Humane Society staff was evicted.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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