Although a faction of animal welfare activists continue to deny the pet overpopulation problem in the United States, many animal welfare organizations continue to battle pet overpopulation in their communities. The state of Colorado is a prime example of the pet overpopulation crisis in the United States; Colorado has been pro-active at the state, regional, and local level in solving pet overpopulation, increasing adoptions, and reducing euthanasia for over a decade.
“There are too many unwanted pets in the United States,” says Chris Gallegos, Public Relations Manager at the Dumb Friends League in Colorado. “Pet overpopulation varies depending on where you live and correlates directly to financial and community support.”
The Dumb Friends League operates two open admission shelters in Colorado, the Quebec Street Shelter in Denver and the Buddy Center™ in Castle Rock. As open admission animal shelters, the Dumb Friends League accepts ALL animals into their care. As the largest community-based animal sheltering organization in the region, the two Dumb Friends League open admission shelters average a combined 24,000 companion animal intakes each year.
Because of their commitment to multiple life-saving programs, community outreach, and cooperative partnerships, the Dumb Friends League declared an incredible and laudatory 83% Live Release Rate (LRR) in their 2012 Annual Report.
In 2001, the Colorado State Legislature created the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund (CPOF) to provide statewide subsidized spay-neuter surgeries for dogs and cats in underserved areas of Colorado to reduce euthanasia and curb pet overpopulation.
Proceeds from the charitable tax check-off on the Colorado state income tax form provides grants to humane societies, veterinary clinics, and animal care and control organizations, to fund spay-neuter surgeries for low-income families and initiate pet overpopulation education and awareness in the community.
Since 2010, the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund revenue from license plate sales promotes a wider range of responsible ownership dedicating sales to fund grants for spay-neuter, medical treatment, and microchip identification of companion animals.
In addition to supporting the Colorado Pet Overpopulation Fund and committing to spay-neuter education and awareness, the Dumb Friends League performs spay-neuter on all of their adoptable cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets.
Two Dumb Friends League mobile spay-neuter clinics, The Meow Mobile clinic for cats and The Lulu Mobile clinic for cats and dogs, travel to underserved communities and provide low cost spay-neuter surgeries for all cats (ten dollars) and dogs (fifty dollars to qualifying families). Since its inception in 2005, the Dumb Friends League mobile spay-neuter clinics have performed over 37,000 spay-neuter procedures.
The Dumb Friends League is much more than an individual animal sheltering organization. “Pet overpopulation is not a shelter problem,” Gallegos says, “it is a community problem.”
Recognizing the Colorado pet overpopulation crisis, a coalition of public and private animal service providers created the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance in 2000 to reduce euthanasia, increase the live release rate of adoptable animals, and promote responsible ownership.
As a member of the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance, the values and goals of the Dumb Friends League is reflected, shared, and practiced among a wide range of shelters, rescues, foundations, and veterinarians “working toward the same goal,” as Gallegos states, “to increase animal adoptions.”
The continuing community effort of the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance is best characterized by their cooperative ability to identify community needs and develop programs and initiatives to improve animal welfare.
And the secret to success?
The success of the Metro Denver Shelter Alliance and the success of its individual member organizations is achieving its common goals through partnership and collaboration. As Gallegos states, “No matter what your sheltering philosophy is, we must work together.”