La Plata County Humane Society Hopes for Banner Year

The La Plata County Humane Society is hoping 2023 is its most successful year yet. This edition of the Local News Network is brought to you by Man Cave Barbers and Serious Texas Bar-B-Q. I’m Connor Shreve. With a $1.2 million renovation complete, this year will be marked by stability for the nonprofit shelter, a welcome change from 2022 for director of Animal Services Chris Nelson.

This building was first opened in January of 1997, or rather, December of 1997. And it basically has had 3000 animals a year go through here for all that time. And therefore, it was in pretty sad state of affairs and needing repairs.

The facility upgrade makes the shelter a safer place for the animals. But Nelson says it’s also improved the experience for anyone walking through the building.

The public’s view of the facility is definitely changed. I think they always respected us and knew that we were working hard. But I think there was, it looked like a much sadder place. And now you can tell, people are they go in there, and they go, “Wow, look at this. It’s so much brighter, it’s cleaner, and it just looks nicer for the dogs.

Nelson says the shelter is working on achieving population balance, which has been out of whack since 2020, a result of the COVID shutdown. The pandemic nearly doubled the length of the animals’ average stay. Still, La Plata County Humane Society is one of the most successful in the region, boasting an 87% success rate placing animals with new owners, something foster coordinator Colleen Dunning credits to having a large support structure of both volunteers and fosters.

We could not fulfill our mission without our fosters, especially this past year during our construction. We had to empty out the whole kennel, and a lot of fosters stepped up to take in adult dogs until our construction was done, so that was super helpful.

Dunning is grateful to have a more robust group of fosters than many shelters. La Plata County Humane Society relies on about 150 fosters to help relieve some of the pressure on staff and animals. That’s why Dunning is always on the lookout for more.

I always say it’s kind of like rent a pet. So if for some reason, like you have several fosters who love animals, but they travel a lot for work so they can’t have animals of their own. So it’s a way for them to get a little animal fix. It’s also great for young people to learn caretaking skills and responsibilities. So we have a lot of young people who like to do it over the summer when they’re not in school, which is great for us, because that’s when we have the most kittens.

She says Fosters can commit to any time frame, and the shelter provides all the supplies needed to care for the animals. La Plata County Humane Society relied on many area shelters to care for its animals while construction took place last year. And as one of the Four Corners’ most modern shelters now, it will help animals from across Colorado and the Four Corners region in the years ahead. That’s a daunting task, but something the shelter gets help with from volunteers like Kathy Roberts.

I started volunteering here in 2010 after the census. When I quit working for them, I had to find something to do, and I stopped in here one day and I’ve been coming ever since pretty much every day. Don’t tell my husband.

In that time, she’s worked in about as many roles a volunteer could. Now at the front desk, she’s one of the faces you see upon entering the shelter. It’s her first hand experience of watching the organization care for the animals that keeps her volunteering. And she says it’s been worth every minute. You can learn more about the animals in the shelter, as well as volunteer and foster opportunities online at Thanks for watching the Local News Network. I’m Connor Shreve.

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