Lack of pet-friendly housing leads to more animals at shelter |

Lack of pet-friendly housing leads to more animals at shelter

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Dogs are seemingly welcome just about anywhere in Aspen — they're often seen in retail stores and on restaurant patios — except in rental housing.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

A lack of pet-friendly affordable housing is one of the main reasons pets wind up at the animal shelter.

Aspen Animal Shelter owner Seth Sachson said pets are released to the shelter for a number of reasons, such as death, divorce and allergies, but that housing is usually No. 1.

“An animal is released to the shelter every couple of weeks due to lack of housing,” Sachson said, adding that he sees this “in various aspects, all the time” — whether it’s someone who has just moved to Aspen with a pet and is looking for housing or a local resident who has lost his or her pet-friendly housing.

The shelter does receive a greater number of animals at the beginning of each season, when new waves of people move to town in preparation to live here for a season, Sachson said.

“They move to town at the beginning of the season, excited to be here, and bam — they’re hit with the reality that it’s not going to be easy to find pet-friendly housing,” he said.

Sachson said recent abuse of the therapy pet title isn’t helping lessen these policies, either.

Property leasing manager Michael Campbell agreed with Sachson.

“The plethora of service dogs has made these policies even worse,” Campbell said. “There are a number of people abusing the system and using that as their cover story.”

Campbell said irresponsible pet-owners are another primary reason for strict pet policies.

A self-proclaimed “dog guy,” Campbell said it is unfortunate that it only takes one or two irresponsible pet owners to make a bad situation.

“Because there are people who clean up after their dogs, bring their dogs inside and do all of the things that dog owners are supposed to do,” he said.

Basalt resident and dog owner Sarah Mandall said the lack of dog-friendly housing in the valley feels out of character.

“It is very surprising that in a community that is in so many ways dog-friendly, people renting out homes make it very, very difficult, at best,” she said. “It seems incongruent. … It’s sad to me that a person like me who would be open to adopting another dog feels prohibited … It sort of begs the question, how dog-friendly really are we?”

In an Aspen Times random polling, 14 out of 15 businesses in town — from high- to low-end restaurants, bars and shops — say they are dog-friendly in at least some capacity.

Even some of the nicer retail stores in Aspen, such as Prada, have no issue with dogs in their store.

“Dogs are more than welcome in Prada,” Prada sales associate Mauricio Hoyos said, adding that it is not a concern for them because most dogs that come into the store are well-behaved.

“They love the fur rugs,” Hoyos said. “I think they can smell the goat.”