Pooches to lend a paw at shelter’s groundbreaking | AspenTimes.com

Pooches to lend a paw at shelter’s groundbreaking

Steve Benson

Donning hard hats and tool belts, a number of shelter dogs will lend a paw in the groundbreaking of the new Aspen/Pitkin County Animal Shelter Wednesday at noon. City and county officials as well as shelter supporters will be on hand to assist the animals in the groundbreaking, which caps off nearly eight years of planning and fund raising.”This is huge – it’s my lifelong dream to provide a new home for animals of Pitkin County,” said Seth Sachson, operator of the shelter. He is also president of the facility’s capital campaign. “We’re basically creating a really fun, happy, healthy environment for the animals as well as [potential future owners].” The new facility, which will cost $2.6 million and should take about a year to complete, is located off Highway 82 next to the county public works building and RFTA bus barn. The original shelter is 33 years old. Designed by SunDesigns Architects, the new shelter will provide 9,261 square feet of space on two floors, and will be energy efficient and built with low-maintenance, cost-effective materials. Sachson said one of the highlights of the shelter is an indoor socialization room where future owners can get to know cats and dogs. “We’re doing a lot of fun stuff,” he said. “We’ve incorporated the community into the animal shelter. It will be a better quality of life for the animals and more friendly.”While the new facility will act primarily as an animal shelter, a separate area will be used for boarding. The funding from boarding pets will be used for neutering, employee wages and utilities. “The animals with homes will support the animals without homes,” Sachson said. “It works perfectly, and it makes people feel good.” Every dog and cat at the Aspen shelter is vaccinated and neutered prior to adoption. The shelter is also a no-kill facility. More than 350 animals, including 283 dogs, 66 cats and a parrot, spent a total of 2,054 days in the shelter in 2003. Sachson said the atmosphere of the old shelter, which will remain in operation until the new one is completed, will live on. The walls of the current shelter are filled with murals painted by visiting school children; the new shelter will be decorated with artists’ interpretations of photographs of dogs and cats submitted by their owners. “I’m going to miss the old shelter because it has a lot of emotion tied up in it. I’ve spent my entire young adult life here,” said Sachson, who’s been working at the shelter since 1992. “I want to continue the tradition.” The shelter’s volunteer dog walking program, which is listed as one of the American Humane Association’s top animal shelter programs in the country, will also continue at the new facility. The Pitkin County commissioners approved the new shelter June 9; the county donated the land for the facility. The city of Aspen provided financial assistance and several members of the community made donations. To date, $2.1 million has been raised through public and private funds. Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com

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