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Friends of Aspen shelter reach out

Jeanne McGovernThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado
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ASPEN – For Boxer and Bella, there’s no place like home – in Aspen. But they are the lucky ones.”It is so wonderful when we are able to find a dog a home,” said Anne Gurchick, director of Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter. “But there is so much more to the story.”Boxer and Bella are among the dozens of dogs that are rescued by the Aspen Animal Shelter each year. It’s an effort that’s important to Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter, the shelter’s nonprofit fundraising arm, but it’s not the most important.According to Gurchick, the key to stopping the euthanasia of adoptable dogs and cats is not necessarily having them rescued. Rather, the answer lies in an aggressive spay-and-neuter program.”I used to think that every dog needed to be rescued,” she said. “But now I know that the key to saving all the adoptable pets is a spay-and-neuter program.”In fact, Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter has embarked on an effort to help communities across Colorado curb pet overpopulation. And it’s making a difference.Through the organization’s Spay/Neuter & Rescue Campaign in Cortez, which began in January 2011, Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter has funded nearly 1,000 spayings and neuterings. The program offers free certificates for the procedures by asking area veterinarians to donate a portion of their fees and paying them back for the remaining cost.”We can’t fix the problem, but we can offer alternatives,” said Gurchick, noting that communities such as Cortez, which lies close to an American Indian reservation, have unique challenges. “We can go there and can help them find ways to change what is going on.”And Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter has done that. According to Gurchick, the Cortez animal shelter’s euthanasia rate dropped from 58 percent in 2010 – the highest in Colorado at one point – to 40 percent in 2011. Plus, a high number of the pets that were euthanized were feral cats.And while Aspen has few – if any – feral cats, the thread of Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter’s work remains strong locally.”We don’t have a problem with this here,” Gurchick said, adding that the Aspen Animal Shelter has a strong no-kill tradition. “But our goal, our mission, is reduce pet overpopulation and the killing of adoptable pets. So we are always trying to find ways to do this because when you look in the eyes of these dogs and cats, you see their souls filled with such innocence and love.”It is truly amazing to be able to change their lives.”jmcgovern@aspentimes.com


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