Like many nonprofit organizations, the La Plata County Humane Society has spent the bulk of the nations worst recession trying to do more without more money to do it.
But the organization isnt hurting as badly as its counterparts elsewhere, shelter director Chris Nelson said, because of help it has received from the community and businesses.
Durangoans, known for being highly pet-friendly, donate generously and shop frequently at the Humane Society Thrift Store, Nelson said. And where that funding source falls short, local businesses are picking up the slack, Nelson said.
All of the pet-related retail stores in town support the Humane Society in one way or another, Nelson said.
Businesses such as Zukes, a pet food manufacturer, sponsor the organizations special events. A few other retailers help by facilitating pet adoptions in their stores. And still more local companies offer in-kind services to the Humane Society.
For instance, a new doggy day care and boarding company in town provides free grooming services to the Human Society and to new pet owners who adopt from the organization.
Paws N Playtime, owned by mother-daughter duo Mary and Sarah Fletcher, opened in September and is located on Bodo Drive. In addition to the Humane Society, the Fletchers donate grooming services to Annies Orphans Dog Shelter. And Mary Fletcher owns a gourmet dog treat bakery in Durango, which also provides free gourmet dog treats to the two shelters.
Fletcher said she does it because nearly all of her customer base consists of rescued and adopted animals. And Fletcher said she knows there are many more pets still awaiting new homes.
There are so many dogs in (local) shelters that would probably be adopted if they just had a bath or a trim, Fletcher said. Hopefully, if nothing else, the dogs will have a good, fresh start in their new homes.
Nelson said the Humane Society bathes the animals that come into the shelter, but many are in such bad shape that it often isnt enough.
They come in matted and dirty, and we just dont have money for grooming, Nelson said.
Without the Paws N Playtime grooming services, Nelson said more Humane Society animals would end up shaved.
And a good grooming or lack thereof can affect an orphaned pets chances of being adopted, he said.
Nelson said that when the housing bubble blew up, many people were forced to leave their homes and couldnt take their pets with them. This resulted in many more animals taken to the shelter.
The shelters budget, meanwhile, has remained flat.
Weve had to take care of more animals with basically the same amount of money, Nelson said.
Durango and La Plata Countys contributions combined cover just 25 percent of the Humane Societys annual budget, Nelson said.
Because of declines in sales tax revenue, city and county officials were forced to dip into their general funds to make their respective $84,000 contributions, said Jessica Laitsch, La Plata County budget analyst.
There was a lot of discussion about what well do in future years, said County Manager Shawn Nau.
But for Fletcher, theres no uncertainty. Her commitment to the shelter remains strong.
Our whole motivation is to get more dogs adopted, Fletcher said.