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Local support is essential for dog rescue

The Four Corners is unique in so many ways, and animal welfare is no exception. With an abundance of open spaces, a 5-acre dog park, dog-friendly businesses, remote work options and devoted pet owners, La Plata County is quite dog-friendly. However, our area presents unique problems and barriers related to dog rescue efforts.

Did you know 65% Colorado residents own a pet? In 2023, Forbes magazine identified Colorado as having the most devoted dog owners in America! Colorado dog owners are more likely to purchase a home, rather than rent, to accommodate their dog’s needs. In order to spend more time with their dog, 7% of Colorado dog owners have left a job for a more pet-friendly option. Some dog owners put their dog’s needs before their own: 11% stayed at a job they disliked because of the pet-friendly perks. More than 39% of dog owners tightened their budget to afford their dogs’ expenses.

This is great news for Colorado-based animal welfare organizations. Colorado residents are a dream for shelters and rescues that work to rehome dogs into loving, supportive families that will provide them with a lifetime of care. It is essential for the success of Colorado-based animal welfare organizations that residents adopt locally, rather than shopping online, adopting out of state, or buying from a breeder.

Now for the challenges. La Plata County has its own pet overpopulation problem and is struggling to find enough adopters for stray and surrendered dogs. Since 2018, LPCHS have seen a 107% increase in stray and surrendered dogs from Ignacio. In addition, it is estimated that there are 250,000 stray dogs on the Navajo Nation, and with this area only three hours away, the problem spills over into La Plata County. Lisa Parker, a Durango native, has been helping to address this issue for more than 10 years by taking in dogs and puppies from remote areas in the Four Corners. Several other rescue organizations work to reduce, rescue and rehome dogs from the Navajo Nation. LPCHS is not one of these organizations. LPCHS serves as an open-admission shelter for La Plata County residents and pets found in La Plata County. Well-intentioned travelers often pick up a stray dog on the Navajo Nation and bring them to LPCHS. Unfortunately, the humane society does not have the capacity to take in dogs from outside La Plata County. It is all we can do to manage the dogs in need within La Plata County. If you are interested in helping with dog rescue efforts on the Navajo Nation, look into these rescue groups: Best Friends, Arizona Humane Society, Blackhat Humane Society, RezDawg Rescue and Underdog Animal Rescue.

Since 2022, LPCHS consistently operates over capacity. A manageable population of dogs for the humane society to care for is between 63 and 83. Currently, LPC HS has 113 dogs in its care. This trend of overcrowding is being seen in rescues and shelters nationwide.

Now, more than ever, animal welfare organizations need residents to support their local shelters and rescues. Support includes: adopting locally, volunteering, becoming a member, donating monthly or annually, and making a planned gift to ensure the future of animal welfare.

For more information, contact LPCHS at info@lpchumanesociety.org, or call 259-2847.

Colleen Dunning is La Plata County Humane Society development manager.