Durango dogs are getting a new lease on life because of an animal-rescue program sponsored by a national charity. In
2009, the La Plata County Humane Society sent away 213 dogs and puppies under Pet
Smart Charities' Rescue Waggin' program, in hopes they will find new homes elsewhere.
The program transports adoptable dogs from overcrowded animal shelters to communities across the country where they are
more likely to be adopted. Dogs from the La Plata County Humane Society are taken to the Humane Society of Boulder
These puppies and dogs are usually adopted within three to five days of their arrival at the new shelter," said
Susanna Della Maddalena, executive director for PetSmart Charities.
In 2009, the Humane Society of Boulder Valley took in 1,535 dogs from its eight different Rescue Waggin' partners.
We have a large demand for dogs in the Boulder area, so our adoption rates are really high," said Kim Sporrer,director of communications for the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. We are able to find dogs new homes quicker than a
lot of other shelters."
In the six years since the Rescue Waggin' program began, more than 32,000 dogs and puppies have been saved, according
to a PetSmart Charities news release.
To be eligible for the program, canines must pass medical and behavioral tests to ensure they are adoptable.
Behavioral tests take about 15 to 20 minutes per dog. The tests ensure the dog is good with both people and other dogs,said Chris Nelson, director of the La Plata County Humane Society.
The program's vehicle takes all the Durango dogs it has room for, as well as all puppies younger than 6 months old.
We have times when we have 40 to 60 puppies at a time, especially in late summer and early fall, way more than we can
possibly adopt," Nelson said. The Rescue Waggin' has been a great help to reducing our euthanasia numbers."
The La Plata County Humane Society took in 3,142 animals in 2009, 221 more than in 2008. In contrast, only 1,656
animals were adopted.
An additional 700 animals were returned to owners, 213 went into the Rescue Waggin' program, and three were given to
People aren't being responsible and having their dog spayed or neutered," said Nelson.
Nelson said the economic downturn has caused an increase in the number of animals brought to the Humane Society.
Many animals have been surrendered because their owners have moved somewhere pets are not allowed. Other people have
surrendered their pets simply because they cannot afford to keep them.
Owner surrenders were up 40 percent over the last three years," said Nelson.
The Humane Society relies on private donations and a grant from the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund in order to
provide its spay and neuter financial assistance.
The Humane Society also has a capital campaign to raise money for building improvements.
We have a facility that needs upgrading," said Nelson. If we had a larger facility, maybe we wouldn't have to
transfer animals out of the community."
Patrick Young is an intern at The Durango Herald.