The La Plata County Humane Society has spent thousands of dollars during the past couple of months on surgeries for dogs, so much so that it is worried about its ability to continue funding surgeries and general care, according to the nonprofit.
The Humane Society recently began caring for a 3-year-old French bulldog named Aspen. Aspen’s previous owner traveled for work, and it was causing health issues for Aspen, so the owner surrendered the dog to the Humane Society.
Aspen is the second French bulldog in the past 18 years the Humane Society has cared for.
“A lot of people are usually really interested in Frenchies, and we thought it was a good idea to bring Aspen here,” said Chris Nelson, director of animal services.
Shortly after accepting Aspen, staff members noticed she was straining to urinate. Nelson and others suspected potential kidney problems, so they sent her to Home Sweet Home Veterinary Clinic for X-rays.
“Sure enough, she had two big bladder stones in her, that, I swear to God, were almost as big as golf balls,” Nelson said.
The Humane Society took swift action and performed surgery, and is now feeding her a special diet. Aspen also had some behavioral issues that staff members and the training team at the Humane Society have worked to correct.
Stories like Aspen’s are not uncommon. When dogs first arrive at the Humane Society, they are given a basic health exam. However, sometimes not everything can be detected in the original exam, and after a couple of days at the kennel, it becomes apparent dogs are limping or have other issues bothering them. Nelson said injured legs and hips are common.
“A lot of them have been stray for so long that the fracture has healed but not properly, so they are in need of pretty major surgery,” Nelson said. The Humane Society has completed five such surgeries this year.
Usually, the Humane Society relies on donations from the community to pay for surgical procedures. Nelson said “the public has been really good to us” and the Humane Society received a lot of donations when the thrift store was forced to close because of COVID-19. The thrift store is now open, but revenues are down.
“They can’t be open as long as they normally would be because they can’t have staff in the building stocking during the daytime because we can only have a limited number of people in the store,” Nelson said.
Additionally, all of the other services the Humane Society provides, such as vaccinations, that normally generate revenue have been down or unable to run since COVID-19 hit. Adoptions have also been down.
Two other dogs, Zoe and Cona, just had puppies and are also in need of surgery.
“So, we’re looking for some help,” Nelson said.