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Lamar Animal Shelter Benefits Pets and Owners

Stephanie Spitz and Donated Flower Pots

Stephanie Spitz and Donated Flower Pots

Lamar residents were enjoying picnic-perfect weather on County Road EE.5 this past Saturday, June 4th at the Lamar Animal Shelter.  The occasion was the observance of the postponed open house for the shelter which was cancelled in May due to inclement weather.  Related organizations such as LAST and Second Chance were present as well as residents who came to find a furry friend to join their family.

Fancy and New Friend

Fancy and New Friend

To anyone who has visited the shelter from years past, there have been some improvements. Stephanie Spitz was hired by the Lamar City Council last year to take over operations as a full-time manager.  Before that, the facility was managed by Code Enforcement Officers who were on hand when their schedule and duties allowed.  Spitz’s full time status has allowed some beneficial changes, most notably, finding new homes for stray animals, developing more volunteers and using facebook to publicize adoptable animals in the community.

"Hello"..."Hello Yourself"

“Hello”…”Hello Yourself”

“We’ve had some volunteers come and go, but it averages out to about four through the year,” Spitz explained. She said there has been a consistent turnover rate finding homes for the dogs, “We had 40 dogs in May and found homes for 17 of them.  By the end of the month, we were left with six in the shelter which were returned to their owners or went to the Humane Society of Pikes Peak region.  We were left with several pit bull dogs as the Society will not take that breed,” she stated.

Surveying the Activities

Surveying the Activities

The building is still the same, but now there are some benches and shrubs that have been added outdoors. “Those were donated by Kathy Payne who helps us as a volunteer,” Spitz said.  She also commended Pat Mason and his department from the City of Lamar.  The odor of urine and waste is no longer prevalent inside the building.  “Pat Mason and his staff cleaned this place from top to bottom and paid special attention to cleaning out the drain.  Now we have absolutely no unpleasant aromas and it’s more sanitary and healthy for the dogs,” she said.  There were only four dogs penned at the shelter on Saturday, two pit bulls and two other breeds, some of whom barked at you as dogs are wont to do.

Lee Treats with a Training Seminar

Lee Treats with a Training Seminar

Outside, dogs and humans were getting to know one another, either at the display tables where some literal doggie-bags were being handed out, or where kids were being shown how to weave short leashes from multi-colored lengths of cloth. Some dogs just sat and watched the activities with their owners while others did the usual doggie greeting of a sniff here and there.  Some people are foster volunteers who will take an animal home to accommodate its needs on a short term basis.  Some animals had a history of abuse and were noticeably shy with others; man, woman or other dog.

Anxious to Stay with His Human

Anxious to Stay with His Human

A small class on dog training was held by Lee Treats who provides basic instruction at the Lamar Community Building on Fridays. She handed out small snacks to a volunteer dog that was, along with its owner, being taught to train a dog to sit and lie down as well as some facts on dogs who develop separation anxiety.

Spitz said facebook has helped connect owners with lost dogs, “The word goes out faster and photos help for identification,” she explained, adding, “We also get some of our volunteers this way.” She cautioned that owners should always call the dispatch center at 336-3977 before contacting the shelter about a lost or found dog.  That goes for people who pick up a stray, “They’re trying to help, but it’s important to have a record of a lost or found dog before you post anything on facebook.”  Not everyone uses social media, she explained, and people may not connect with a posting if they don’t use it.  “They’ll come looking for their dog here first, while someone may have their dog at their house.”

A new development helps with adoptions and rabies certifications. Spitz said, “An owner who has their documentation for rabies can get a city-required license directly from the shelter which saves time and money.  If their dog is licensed and registered, they can usually save on the impound fee or just have the dog returned to them.  Most dogs that come to us are strays and are not licensed.  The local vets have used some grant funding for spaying and neutering for adoptions in the past which is a savings.”

The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 3pm and from 8am to Noon on Saturdays on County Road EE.5 just past the Veteran’s section of Fairmount Cemetery. The number is 336-8769

By Russ Baldwin

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