Animal welfare

Animal welfare: Answering some frequently asked questions | Local

Flagstaff animal lovers have high expectations for their shelter, so we’d like to answer some frequently asked questions.

Q It appears that High Country Humane (HCH) is always full and unable or unwilling to accommodate more animals. I heard people say they were turned away by the staff. What’s the point of having a shelter if you can’t accommodate an animal in case of need?

As the official shelter for Flagstaff and Coconino County, HCH has a responsibility to the community and a contractual obligation to provide the highest level of care possible and realizes that more animals need shelter than HCH does. can provide it. Shelters across the country are facing this challenge, and it is a multi-faceted problem.

What does “full” mean? It depends on whether the shelter is an open or managed shelter.

An open-entry shelter accepts any animal brought in and has no limit on the number of animals it will take; however, there is no guarantee that animals will not be euthanized when this shelter runs out of space.

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High Country Humane is a managed admissions shelter, which means that barring a community-wide emergency such as a major fire, the shelter “manages” the number of animals it will take in. some time. This helps to prevent illnesses within the shelter and to maintain the level of care provided. HCH has a live release rate of 97.2% and does NOT euthanize animals for time, space or treatable conditions.

The second component is space. The building that houses HCH was originally designed as a private facility, not a public shelter. According to established industry standards, HCH’s housing capacity is 2,500 animals per year.

In the three years that HCH has been open, animal consumption has exceeded that number. In 2019, total intakes were 2,818; in 2020, the total was 2,944; in 2021 it was 3,533 and 2022 is on track to exceed 4,000 animals.

Letting the shelter become overcrowded is in no one’s interest. This is why HCH often asks the community for help when the shelter is full. Help raising a litter of puppies or kittens or caring for an animal recovering from complicated surgery; assisting in the adoption or promoting the adoption of a dog or cat from a shelter; help understand the practical reasons for these policies and decisions.

Q What options do pet owners have when circumstances dictate that they can no longer keep their pets, but the shelter is full? What if the owner doesn’t have time to look for a new home or has had no luck trying to rehome the animal?

The shelter is intended to serve as a temporary and safe place for stray animals, abandoned pets and emergency evacuations; Returning a pet to the shelter should be the last resort.

HCH knows the best place for a pet is with their family and offers options for most pet abandonment situations. These resources include help with pet food, medical bills, or behavioral issues. HCH asks owners handing over a pet to make an appointment online and asks them to take independent action first.

According to Liz Olson, General Manager, “Too often a homeowner waits until the last minute before asking for help. This is unfortunate, as it limits our ability to provide meaningful support.

HCH dedicates an entire page on its website ( to resources for owners facing this situation. If your situation requires your pet to be rehomed, please follow these steps first.

Q Veterinary care is so expensive! Are there plans to offer low-cost medical services other than sterilization, and when will the shelter start offering sterilization surgeries again?

Despite the high cost of adding low-cost medical services, estimated at $450,000 per year, HCH is committed to providing animals living in low-income households with the accessible, high-quality veterinary care they need. and they deserve.

HCH has been actively recruiting a second veterinarian and veterinary technical support staff for several months; however, there is currently a national shortage of veterinary care personnel. As soon as additional staff can be added, public sterilization surgeries will resume and the clinic will expand its services.

For answers to any other questions, please visit

Written by High Country Humane Advisory Board Member Pam Tharp.