Cases of Homeless and Abandoned Animals Escalating in Teller County

Area Shelters Hits Crisis Level; Local Property Owner Steps Up to the Plate

Trevor Phipps

When the economy slows down, humans aren’t the only species who are affected by tough times.

In fact, as people struggle to pay their bills, the pets that are part of their family also suffer from the bad situations.

Recently,  animal shelters in the Pikes Peak region and throughout Colorado  have experienced a serious uptick in animals getting surrendered and being put up for adoption. Some animal shelters in the region have said that they receive drastically more calls for pets to get re-homed than they do for people wanting to adopt.

The unbalance in the system has caused several local animal rescue organizations to reach a capacity. level. Many have been full and unable to accept more abandoned or surrendered pets.

However locally, organizations like the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter (TCRAS) have looked for new ways to get pets adopted. The organization has partnered with community members in town to get the word out so that more pets can secure homes in the county.

Earlier this month, the former owner of the Rhapsody Restaurant in downtown Woodland Park, Erin O’Connell, opened the doors to the Rhapsody building (which is vacant and for sale) in order to help the local animal shelter. During a Friday and Saturday at the beginning of August, the building was filled with cats and kittens waiting to find their new local home.

The idea was to get the pets closer to where people are in order to help them find new homes. The building located directly off of Highway 24 provided a prime location for people to go and fall in love with their new pet.

And according to TCRAS volunteers, the mission was very successful. Each day they were at the Woodland Park location, three cats found new companions and new households to call their home.

TCRAS also spreads the word of their cause at several local events taking place over the summertime. In early August, TCRAS had a booth set up at the annual Critter Rescue Roundup that took place at the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in downtown Woodland Park.

Along with TCRAS, several other animal rescues in the Pikes Peak Region were also present. Booths were also set up that offer other pet related services such as dog training classes.

The event was heavily attended by people collecting information about the various organizations and getting free doggie treats. TCRAS had information available for anyone who wished to find a new furry companion.

According to TCRAS Executive Director Angie Davis, finding homes for pets has become more of a struggle within the county. “All of our local shelters and animal rescue groups, especially in the southern Colorado region are just packed,” Davis said. “We are not shifting animals out like we used to. I wish I could say that it’s just us, but no it is hitting all of us.”

Davis said that there are a number of reasons why animal shelters are currently struggling to find new homes for pets. “I just think it’s a combination of a lot of things,” Davis explained. “During the summer when people are traveling and moving, they don’t want to get a new pet because they are travelling. And people are abandoning their animals at our shelter because the economy is hurting a lot of people. People just can’t afford their mortgages and all of that stuff so they’re just taking the wrong route by abandoning their pets. Because we are so full and can’t take them, they are just abandoning them somewhere. It’s a vicious circle.”

The TCRAS director also said that she is very grateful to be able to utilize the old Rhapsody building. “It’s amazing to have a business owner open up their doors to give us better exposure to find more homes,” Davis said.

Anyone who wishes to adopt a new pet is asked to go visit TCRAS in Divide or call them at (719) 686-7707.