Summer is peak season at Aspen Animal Shelter |

Summer is peak season at Aspen Animal Shelter

A curious puppy at the Aspen Animal Shelter investigates the camera Friday.
Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times |

Visit or adopt

The Aspen Animal Shelter, located at 101 Animal Shelter Rd., is open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. seven days a week.

For more information about the shelter or how to rescue an animal, call the Aspen Animal Shelter at 970-544-0206.


What: Second annual Dog Day Community Carnival, hosted by Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter. Bring your dog for a free consultation with a veterinarian or dog trainer, a dog wash and treats. There will be live music, food and drink vendors, two petting zoos, a dunk tank, raffles with prizes and more.

When: Sunday (today) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Aspen Animal Shelter, 101 Animal Shelter Rd.

Cost: Free

In the 23 years that Seth Sachson has worked at the Aspen Animal Shelter, it hasn’t closed a single day.

Sachson, who currently serves as the executive director, strongly believes in keeping the doors to the Aspen Animal Shelter open 365 days a year.

Since a volunteer must be on-site to take care of the animals anyway, Sachson said he would never want to turn away a visitor who could potentially “make an animal’s day.”

“I think that’s what sets us apart from other animal shelters,” he said. “We definitely work really hard to be a destination for tourists and locals alike to come share love with the animals.”

While the shelter stays busy year-round, summertime is peak season for adoptions and visitor traffic, Sachson said.

“It’s like Disney World here,” he said, referring to summer months at the shelter. “Every day we are exploding at the seams with children playing with puppies and kittens.”

One explanation behind the spike in summer visitors is simply that the warmer weather offers more outdoor opportunities and activities for people to bring a dog or cat along.

Aspen Animal Shelter volunteer Lisa White commended Sachson and the shelter at large for not only allowing but also encouraging people to come into the shelter to play with and even take out the animals.

White, who rescued her beloved 95-pound shepherd-Newfoundland mix from the Aspen shelter, pointed out that most animal shelters do not allow visitors who have no intention of adopting.

She also noted the importance of the socialization for the animals.

Sachson estimates the number of adoptions is more than double if not triple in the summer months. The shelter rescues approximately 500 animals each year.

The vast majority of these animals are domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, along with the occasional rabbit or bird, he said.

However, the shelter does not turn away any animal species unless there is another organization that’s better equipped to take care of the animal, Sachson said.

The bear that someone once brought to the Aspen Animal Shelter, for instance, would fall into this category.

But wildlife like the stray goat that someone found in Snowmass — or the day-old goose that another person discovered on a ranch in Woody Creek — are fair game at the Aspen shelter.

Sachson noted that he often raises these nondomestic animals at his home, as there is only so much space available at the shelter.

At any given time, the Aspen Animal Shelter houses and cares for approximately 30 adoptable dogs and 20 adoptable cats, Sachson said.

The shelter also rescues animals from high-volume “kill shelters” outside Pitkin County and Colorado.

The Aspen Animal Shelter is a “no-kill shelter,” though Sachson said he prefers not to use this phrase when possible out of respect for the shelters that are forced to resort to such measures.

“We’re so lucky we’re not faced with that problem,” he said.

Since 2007, the Aspen Animal Shelter and Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter — a nonprofit organization that works closely with and supports the animal shelter — has rescued more than 4,000 animals from kill shelters in states across the U.S., including Texas, California and New Mexico, according to Friends of the Aspen Animal Shelter board member Bland Nesbitt.

Around that same time, the shelter and its nonprofit group also launched an aggressive spay-neuter program that has treated more than 16,000 animals since its inception, Nesbitt said.

“For a tiny organization and shelter, it’s really amazing,” she said.

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