"THE GREATNESS OF A NATION AND ITS MORAL PROGRESS CAN BE JUDGED BY THE WAY ITS ANIMALS ARE TREATED."
For the very first time in the history of Trinidad, Colorado a new animal shelter that is designed to save more lives, will be built.
Your help is needed to ensure the shelter will be completed as soon as possible so that animal services will not be interrupted.
Ronald Reagan became President.
A gallon of gas cost $1.25.
Prince Charles & Lady Diana were married.
Raiders of the Lost Ark was released in theaters.
Sandra Day O'Connor became the first female justice on the US Supreme Court.
The average cost of buying a new home was $78,200.
And the Trinidad, CO dog pound was built.
It was different in 1981. The building which currently serves as the Trinidad, CO animal shelter was not built as an animal shelter – it was designed as a “dog pound” and was operated by the “dog catcher”. The largest room of the original 1981 structure was built to only accommodate 13 adult dogs and a handful of cats at the most. The four-room facility merely served to hold animals for a few short days before they were euthanized if not reclaimed or adopted in time.
In 1998, Noah’s Ark Animal Welfare Association became a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The small group was entirely volunteer and foster home based. NAAWA volunteers would pull animals from the pound, welcome them into their homes, provide them with proper vet care, and find forever homes.
Then in 2001, wanting to provide better care and to save more lives, NAAWA entered into agreement with the City to lease the city-owned facility and to assume day-to-day operations. NAAWA made significant policy changes to end the pound mentality and begin humane animal sheltering. The organization saves thousands of lives each year, offers low-cost spay/neuter services, provides humane education for the community, hosts a weekly reduced cost vaccine and microchip clinic, and developed a transfer program which allows for adoptable pets to find homes in locations with higher adoption rates, thus reducing euthanasia.
Working with limited resources, over the course of eighteen years NAAWA improved the city facility in ways it could. The original main building continued to house dogs, while a donated trailer home became the cat shelter, a landscaped courtyard was added along with outdoor dog runs, and a custom shipping container provides additional usable indoor space currently being used as offices.
Despite the simple accommodations, the three-building campus continues to suffer a multitude of challenges which greatly contribute to inefficiency and inadequacy. In a nutshell, there are four critical problem areas with the current facility:
Visitor accommodations are poor. When there are many guests at the shelter, space for indoor seating is cramped and the grounds are not easily accessible by all. The noise and odor levels throughout the campus can be unwelcoming for visitors. A lack of dedicated space for quiet meet-and-greet time between adopters and shelter animals creates a challenge for adopters to spend time one-on-one with a potential match.
Space is inadequate for the animal population and team members. At just 1,925 sq. ft. the current campus is cramped in accommodating offices, reception areas, 23 cat cages, 13 indoor dog kennels, exam areas, isolation kennels, laundry areas, food prep areas, and supply storage. In the last 5 years, an average of 1,860 animals are sheltered annually at NAAWA; which is up to five times the national average of animals housed by a typical animal shelter of its size. Cramped spaces also limit work space, enrichment spaces, and break areas for staff and volunteers. The stream of interruptions and ceaseless multi-tasking, required because of the current configuration, takes its toll on staff and volunteers who struggle to complete their work within these challenging constraints. It is projected that over the next decade, a capacity to house an average of 2,000 animals annually is needed to serve our area. As population expands and animal service needs increase, the facility in its current configuration is simply tapped out.
Unequipped to easily provide a healthy and safe environment for both animals and people. Short of opening doors or windows, there is very little fresh-air intake, which creates difficulty for odor and air-borne disease management. To reset kennels, all dogs must be moved to outdoor runs everyday while cleaning, even during inclement weather. Layout contributes to a stressful and noisy environment for all, inside and outside. The cat shelter trailer has no running water – staff hauls it in daily from the dog shelter building. Outdated chain link fencing is constantly being wired back together to prevent injury and expensive medical bills. Poor drainage from the adjacent soccer field causes regular flooding whenever it rains beyond a sprinkle; shelter staff often times wears irrigation boots to deal with the muddy conditions. Staff must be creative in creating isolation and holding areas for animals needing quarantine from the general census.
Major and costly repairs constantly plague the facility. Despite being patched up, the insufficient buildings continue to deteriorate. Concrete is crumbling in many places. Floors are becoming bouncier as time wears on. Frequent painting is required. Odor levels remain high regardless of how deeply and frequently the surfaces are cleaned. Rooms are dim with the outdated lighting systems. All which can be reasonably repaired or improved, are. However, concerns for major repairs, such as replacing the entire concrete floor in the dog kennel room or installing modern HVAC systems, have resulted in an impasse. Being the facility is inadequate in so many ways, major improvements and repair are simply infeasible.
In 2016, to tap emerging and important opportunities, the City of Trinidad sold the property the community's current animal shelter is located at. For the past few years, the city's animal shelter continues to exist at its current location thanks to the generosity of the new landowner along with an understanding that NAAWA will vacate the property as soon as a new animal shelter is built at a different location.
"WHEN I LOOK AT EVERYTHING ACCOMPLISHED AND CONSIDER HOW VERY LITTLE THERE WAS TO WORK WITH THROUGHOUT THE YEARS... I AM DEEPLY TOUCHED IN REALIZING JUST HOW DEDICATED AND COMPASSIONATE THIS ORGANIZATION HAS BEEN AND CONTINUES TO BE TO ANIMALS AND THE COMMUNITY."
Laurel Young, Executive Director
The modern, cheery, and spacious design will welcome visitors and volunteers; providing a safe, healthy, enriching environment for cats and dogs to stay while they await their forever home.
We envision an animal shelter that can accommodate a high volume of adoptions, which is one of the lynch pins to successfully saving more lives and reducing needless pet euthanasia. Our success will also be predicated on continuing our aggressive spay/neuter program, which has helped to reduce unwanted dogs and cats in our local population. Our low-cost vaccine and microchip clinic will be able to comfortably host more participants, thus helping reduce disease outbreak. The community classroom will be open for humane education, birthday parties, and other fun outreach events. A stress-reduced layout will help animals feel more calm. Our transfer program can expand to help save even more lives regionally.
The new campus will be much more than just a shelter. We will continue our commitment as an open-admission shelter for the dogs and cats of Trinidad and Las Animas County who are sick, injured, abused, or abandoned, as well as helping whenever we can by reaching beyond our geographical boundaries. We aim to bring education, volunteers, and services together under one roof, while providing guidance and direction to animal lovers throughout the region.