Aspen shelter supporters reach out to Garfield County pet owners |

Aspen shelter supporters reach out to Garfield County pet owners

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE ” Supporters of the Aspen Animal Shelter are hoping to make more friends, but not necessarily kittens and puppies, in Garfield County.

The nonprofit, Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter, or FAAS, on Friday kicked off its spay and neutering program to help out families or individuals who may need financial assistance to ensure the health of their pets.

“Pet overpopulation is a huge problem, not just in our valley, but across the whole nation,” said program coordinator Anne Gurchick. “The amount of animals that are euthanized due to pet overpopulation is overwhelming.”

According to the Aspen group, one cat and her offspring could potentially produce 420,000 kittens in seven years. In about the same time, a female dog and her offspring could potentially produce 67,000 dogs. That is what Gurchick and FAAS are hoping to reverse by partnering with the Carbondale Animal Hospital.

Gurchick said Pitkin County has nearly a zero percent euthanization rate, as the Aspen Animal Shelter is a “no-kill” facility. FAAS wants to spread the message of eliminating unnecessary euthanasia throughout the Roaring Fork and Grand valleys.

“We’re trying to lower the rate in neighboring counties as well,” Gurchick said.

During the fall of 2007, FAAS offered a pilot program in Pitkin County with a great response from local pet owners. More than 200 vouchers were given out for free spay and neutering to pet owners who needed help with the expense of the procedures. It worked so well, Gurchick decided to take the program to Garfield County.

“The response was so great and our donors were so generous that we decided to keep it going this year,” Gurchick said.

The procedure can cost between $100 and $250 depending on the species, size and service provided, so the intended use of the certificate is to benefit pet owners who otherwise would not be financially able to spay or neuter their dog or cat. There are 150 certificates available on a first-come, first-served basis. Interested persons may contact FAAS or the Carbondale Animal Hospital.

“There are common misconceptions about spay and neutering,” Gurchick said. “There are all kinds of reasons people have for not spaying or neutering their pets. But there are other benefits as well.”

Some of the benefits include helping pets live healthier lives, including by reducing health problems like testicular cancer and prostate disease in male pets, and practically eliminating the possibility of ovarian and breast cancer in female pets.

In addition, neutered cats are less likely to spray or stray, and neutering reduces a dog’s aggressiveness and the urge to roam, according to FAAS.

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