Saving animals isn’t a job the Larimer Humane Society does alone.
The Fort Collins-based nonprofit partners with 110 shelters and rescue groups across the state to find permanent homes for adoptable pets that the shelter doesn’t have the staff or space to handle.
The shelter contacts animal welfare organizations to inquire about transferring out animals that have behavioral, socialization or medical problems the shelter cannot address, determined on a case-by-case basis.
“Most outgoing transfers are due to lack of space to provide behavior modification training,” said Stephanie Ashley, community relations manager for the Humane Society.
Animals entering the shelter undergo medical and behavioral evaluations to determine if they can be treated and placed into a shelter environment.
The shelter partners with the Colorado State University Teaching Hospital and other veterinarians to provide some of the medical treatment requiring deeper diagnostics that cannot be done in-house — the shelter is overcrowded at 11,000 square feet and hopes to expand its services once it can relocate to a larger facility.
The shelter places animals that are underage, ill, injured or under-socialized into foster care through a network of 96 foster homes to transition them into a permanent or “forever” home.
“Once they’re stable, because our shelter is so small, we can’t house dogs (and other animals) during their entire recovery time period,” said Bob Francella, director of development and community relations, adding that the animals may need a quiet place to heal that a noisy shelter can’t provide.
If an animal cannot be placed into foster care, the shelter staff contacts animal welfare organizations that can take on the animal, working out the logistics of transfer. If other organizations face overcrowding, the Humane Society also will work with them to transfer in and house some of their animals.
“I think it’s great we in Colorado have a pretty good network,” said Alexina Thompson, foster and transfer coordinator for the Humane Society. “It allows us to give animals a second chance.”
The shelter’s foster network cannot take in animals with severe behavioral issues, such as extreme aggression toward other dogs or people and animals afraid of new people and situations. Medical issues include cancer, hypothyroidism and allergies.
Breed-specific rescues have more connections handling certain medical problems specific to their breeds.
The shelter’s primary relationships are with two Fort Collins-based animal welfare organizations, the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic and Animal House Rescue & Grooming.
In 2012, the Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic worked with nine agencies, including the Larimer Humane Society, in four states to transfer in 200 cats and kittens to ease overcrowding elsewhere and to handle the animals’ medical or behavioral issues. The rescue handles an average of 1,000 cats and kittens a year, including owner surrenders and transfers.
The rescue has a shelter that can house 35 cats and works with 60 foster homes, primarily in the Fort Collins and Loveland areas. The foster homes handle 60 percent of the rescue’s intakes.
“In order to rescue more, we have to put them off-site in foster homes,” said Ashley Boothe, marketing and grants coordinator for the rescue. “It’s a shelter without walls. We expand the shelter beyond walls into homes.”
The Rocky Mountain Collie and Sheltie Rescue, which doesn’t have a centralized location, places animals into foster care statewide at an average of 150 dogs a year, working with two dozen foster homes.
The rescue takes in owner surrenders and animals from other organizations and covers the cost of rehabilitation and medical care.
“We just have a spot in our heart for collies and shelties,” said Mac McMullen, who heads up the rescue and lives in Parker. “We do whatever we can to help out.”
Most of the fosters coming to the American Lhasa Apso Club are owner surrenders, said Vickie Kuhlmann, state and regional rescue coordinator, adding that she works with the Larimer Humane Society and shelters in Denver to handle transfers.
“Lhasa Apsos don’t do well in shelter situations,” Kuhlmann said. “They need structure and calm, but they aren’t going to get that in a shelter.”
Breed-specific rescues add to what shelters can provide, Kuhlmann said. “The fact there are breed-specific rescues out there gives (shelters) more options to place a dog,” she said.