Town Talk: Make your dog count!
On the way into Snowmass Village via Brush Creek Road, a sign with six, rung-like sections greets locals and visitors at the first roundabout near Town Park.
The first section says “Snowmass Village.” The second section gives the town population, the third the town’s elevation, the fourth the year the town was incorporated, the fifth the number of dogs registered, and the last adds up each section, presenting a total that has no real rhyme or reason.
Once every Snowmass Village resident completes his or her U.S. Census survey at the end of this month (see related story), and the 2020 data is released, this unique town entrance sign will be updated with the town’s new population count, Assistant Town Manager Travis Elliott explained.
But while Elliott and other Snowmass government officials have focused largely on upping human census participation in recent months, the Snowmass Sun wanted an answer to a burning question it knows many locals may be wondering as well: What is the town doing to ensure it gets a complete count of the village’s dogs this year so it can accurately include it on the entrance sign?
Elliott said not to worry — the town has a long running dog registration program in place that requires any dog that is 6 months or older and has lived in the village for more than 15 consecutive days to be registered with the animal services department. This registration costs around $3 and must be updated annually, Elliott said.
“It’s very important we count 100% of all Snowmass dogs,” Elliott said, noting that the town doesn’t have anything against cats.
Tina White, animal services and community response officer, said the dog registration program has proven to be a useful tool for both officers and dog owners for more than two decades.
The program assigns each registered dog a tag number, which links to a detailed description of that dog and its owner, making it easy to bring Snowmass dogs home if they run away and to track any problem canines.
“If we pick up a dog we can get them home much quicker,” White said, acknowledging that officers utilize the registration program and system quite often. “Sometimes dogs are even picked up downvalley and if the person calls us with the tag number, we can get them connected with the owner pretty easily.”
Outside of reuniting lost dogs with owners, White said the dog registration program also provides important vaccination information and could come in handy in an emergency situation involving home evacuations, giving officers an idea if any dogs may be in a residence in danger.
Over the 23 years she’s served as a Snowmass officer, White said she’s noticed an increase in dogs registered in the village, which she believes is a result of more local housing options allowing pets. She said on average, Snowmass has anywhere from 134 to 200 active dog registrations.
This year — unrelated to the 2020 U.S. Census — White said animal services sent out an email blast to all of the village homeowners’ associations for the first time, explaining why it’s important to register their dogs and how to do it. She said residents were really responsive to the e-blast, which was in addition to the annual registration notices the department sends out, as well.
For White, although she knows the Snowmass entrance sign is meant to be more humorous than anything, she also thinks it’s a subtle reminder for locals to register their dogs and keep those registrations up to date.