Animal Shelter running out of room

— The Steamboat Springs/Routt County Animal Shelter is trying to make room for some new residents scheduled to arrive today, but in order to succeed, the staff at the shelter needs more people such as Barrett Loving and Kevin Nobrega to adopt puppies such as Max.

Loving and Nobrega, who live in Hayden, adopted their chow/Lab-mix puppy named Max Thursday after taking him for a several-day "test drive" to make certain he would get along with their cats. The adoption freed up one more space for four abused dogs scheduled to arrive from the Moffat County shelter today.

Steamboat Springs Animal Control Officer Stacy Hayes said the dogs from Moffat County are a mother and three surviving puppies from a litter of four. The dogs were left abandoned in an apartment in Craig for an undetermined length of time.

Craig Animal Control Officer Amy Andrews said neighbors hadn't seen anyone near the apartment for as long as three weeks, but she couldn't confirm how long the animals had actually been on their own.

She said she gained access to the apartment when the landlord took control of it. When she entered the apartment, she found eight to 10 empty bowls on the floor indicating someone had attempted to leave food for the dogs. But the 8- to 10-week-old puppies were emaciated and had no access to water. The mother may have been able to drink out of a toilet.

"They were starved," Andrews said. "It happens more often than we like to say."

One of the four puppies died that night, despite best efforts to save it. The other three and the mother are rebounding into good health, she said. The mother is a border collie/Lab-mix and the puppies appear to have some shepherd or husky in them.

"They're actually looking pretty good," Andrews said.

Andrews is seeking to issue a summons for inhumane treatment of animals to the former occupant of the apartment. She said she has not been able to locate the apartment tenant and is not at liberty to give out the name on the summons.

Hayes said Moffat County just doesn't have room for the prolonged care and feeding of the dogs at its shelter.

"We're taking them because it just doesn't make sense to euthanize four perfectly healthy dogs," Hayes said.

Just the same, Hayes and Routt County Animal Control Officer Cindy DelValle have just 19 indoor/outdoor kennels in which to house unwanted dogs. On Thursday, the occupancy level at the shelter was fluctuating between 17 and 18 pups and full-grown dogs.

There are also two full-grown cats in residence that desperately need homes before kitten season arrives. Older cats just can't compete with the appeal of six-week-old kittens, Hayes said.

The Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter has a remarkable track record in terms of accepting animals from afar. Max, the chow/Lab-mix puppy, was one of nine puppies the shelter recently accepted from a shelter in Hispanola, N.M.

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