[This is the first of a series of articles on the Grant County Commission meeting on March 12, 2024.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

Grant County Commissioners heard three presentations at the March 12, 2024 work session.

The first presentation came from the High Desert Humane Society president Heidi Ogas. She gave the annual report for the Grant County Animal Shelter, which is run by the HDHS..

For 2023, HDHS took in a total of 597 dogs, of which 214 were impounded, 160 were strays, 223 owner-turn-ins, and 116 returned to owner. The total for cats was 385, with 37 impounded, 225 stray, 123 owner-turn-ins, and two returned to owner.

Impound fees total $3,625, licenses $5416.30 and adoption back into the county 252.

"We have intake increases," Ogas said. "We have a very good animal control officer, who is doing a great job."

She noted the shelter is a low-kill shelter with only about 10 percent of adoptable pets euthanized.

"Overall, we took in 982 dogs and cats in 2023," Ogas said. "We adopted out 827 dogs and cats. We have a spay and neuter program, with the help of state funding. If a person is low-income, they can get 100 percent funding to spay or neuter their pet."

She noted that for an unknown reason county and city licensing numbers are down.

"We last year donated 300 pound of dog and cat food to The Commons," Ogas said.

She also said several years ago, they had a mine collapse on the shelter property. The shelter put in a back entrance to the shelter, and the mine was closed to allow bats to go in and out, but not people. After the collapse a ladder down into the mine discovered an underground lake, which benefits the bats.

"We still hope to build a new adoption center," Ogas said. "It's a stretch because of our low water pressure, but we want to put in 24 more dog runs and 15 more cat cages."

District 3 Commissioner Alicia Edwards thanked Ogas "for your incredible dedication to our animals." She noted that Ogas had said they redeemed 1,000 spay and neuter coupons.

Ogas said that not all coupons get redeemed.

Edwards asked about the former program, SNAP, to address feral cats.

Ogas said the law in the city and county say that if a person feeds a cat or cats for three days, "it becomes your animal and is not allowed to roam. We do not trap, neuter and release."

Edwards asked if someone knows of someone feeding cats, should they call the animal shelter.

"Yes," Ogas said. "It's a complaint-based misdemeanor. Because people do not report it, it's why we have so many homeless cats in the area. It's a sticky subject. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) thinks cat colonies are divisive. Cats kill a lot of birds."

District 1 Commissioner and Chair Chris Ponce said: "We adopted a dog and your staff did a great job."

Ogas said she calls adoptees about a month after the adoption to make sure things are going well. "You're in my stack."

The next article will get into the presentation on the Grant County Community Health Needs and Asset Assessment.

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