Last week I was working on a blog for a client that would talk about taking good care of your outdoor pets in winter. Have I ever told you how much I like freelance writing? I mean, right now the pay is not impressive, but I get to work at my own pace, write for a living, and meet all sorts of interesting people, dogs, and other animals. How cool is that?
Anyway, working on that particular blog post took me to Littleton’s Humane Society of the South Platte Valley (HSSPV). And while I was there, I had the chance to meet with a terrific woman named Susan Fredinburg, the Operations Manager. Susan is a quiet, humble woman who graciously showed me around what was obviously her pride and joy.
“Four of us started this shelter almost four years ago,” said Susan. “We opened December 24, 2009.” The three women who remain with this not-for-profit are either Operations Managers or the Director, and the shelter, which Susan was quick to point out is a low-euthanasia facility, has five other paid staff. Everything else happens with the help of volunteers. People come in, and after a short orientation, do things like walk dogs, clean kennels, play with cats and generally make the place a fun environment.
The HSSPV serves seven districts in the Denver area, including Arapahoe County, Cherry Hills, Englewood, Littleton, Lone Tree, and Parker. The way the service works is that animal control will bring in lost and stray dogs to the shelter, where they are examined and cared for in an on-hold status for seven days. During that time the shelter staff hopes to reunite a pet with its owner. After the seven days, Fido or Fifi will go up for adoption or evaluation for euthanasia.
“We determine whether or not to euthanize based on injuries or illnesses that may be terminal, low quality of life situations, or aggression,” said Susan, “but we’re proud of the fact that we have one of the highest live release rates in the metro area.” The shelter’s live release rate is over 96%, meaning most dogs or cats that come in, will be released to existing or new care givers, as opposed to being put down. The HSSPV is also “breed friendly,” meaning that no dog will be turned away because they are part of a breed that has a “bad reputation.” Currently, there are a lot of pit bulls for example, mixed in with the other dogs the HSSPV shelters and cares for.
You can tell that the HSSVP is very community oriented. They have a room being set up as a community room, where people can host meetings, dog meets, dog training, and other public events. And then there is the facility’s pride and joy, a community outreach vehicle entirely donated and maintained by Ralph Schomp Honda company.
“They just gave us this wonderful RV,” said Susan. “Please come in.” She showed me around the completely refitted vehicle that includes a little get-to-know you chamber for potential new pet parents and their dog or cat. The vehicle is taken to places like the large pet stores who host adoption days or on other public service calls.
The HSSPV also provides basic veterinary services such as low-cost vaccines for your pet and spay or neuter operations. There is a part-time veterinarian on staff and a full-time veterinary technician.
When we toured the cattery, there were cats roaming freely in their own room. “We set this up like a living room so that the transition to other homes would be easier for the cats,” said Susan. I asked about the couch that one furry friend was relishing with his paws. “We use donated furniture, and replace the couches when they begin to wear too thin. We are always looking for more couch donations.”
In all, this shelter dispelled any old notions of pet shelters being horrid, end-od-the-line kind of places with mean old guys anxious to try out their latest gas-chamber methods. In fact, I hope to make one of my New Year’s Resolutions, to become a dog walker for the Humane Society of the South Platte Valley in 2014.
I hope you’ll check out your local shelter. There is life there a plenty, and love to go with it. What could be better. And if you’d like to donate to the HSSPV please visit ColoradoGives.org.