• Susan Houser

Fort Morgan, CO

Fort Morgan is a city of 11,000 people located in the northeastern part of Colorado. It is the county seat of Morgan County, which has a population of 28,000. The area is mostly devoted to farming.

The city has an animal control service, but animals are impounded by a private agency, the Fort Morgan Humane Society (FMHS). I spoke to the shelter’s operations manager, Tina Gutierrez, who told me that the shelter has contracts with Fort Morgan, Morgan County, Log Lane and Wiggins for stray intake. She said that the county has a deputy assigned to animal control. The shelter accepts owner surrenders subject to a waiting list. Gutierrez told me that she is generally able to counsel owners to be able to keep their pets or, if that is not possible, to find a rescue placement for them.

Gutierrez told me that transfers from FMHS go to approved rescues. One rescue she mentioned that has been of assistance to the shelter is Furever Friends, which does adoptions and has a lost and found service. FMHS has a trap-neuter-return program for feral cats. They are neutered and given vaccinations and a full examination. The shelter does not offer owner-requested euthanasia.

The state of Colorado collects statistics on animal shelters. According to those statistics, FMHS took in 1302 animals in 2012, which is an intake of 47 animals per 1000 people in the county. The live release rate for 2012 was 92%. If the number of animals who died or were lost in shelter care is counted in with euthanasias, the live release rate was 90%. Gutierrez told me that she had instituted new medical protocols since she took over earlier this year, and she expects the 2013 statistics to be even better.

The city of Brush (population 5000), is located in Morgan County, and it has its own shelter and an animal control unit run by the police department. The Brush shelter does not accept owner surrenders. FMHS takes in many animals from Brush who are not reclaimed within the 5-day hold period. Brush is not listed as a 90% community, however, because the Brush Animal Shelter reported killing 56 of the 111 cats they took in during 2012.

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