What began in May 2002 as a classified ad in the Craig Daily Press, has evolved into a team of compassionate individuals who are committed to providing opportunity and quality of life for pets in Moffat County.
The Humane Society of Moffat County is currently operating under the non-profit status of the Routt County Humane Society, and has received tutelage and various levels of support from the Routt County group since its first informal meeting more than a year ago.
"Many people from Moffat County were going to Routt county to their new, big shelter," Sandra Kruczek, Humane Society of Moffat County team member, said. "The people in Routt County placed an ad in the Craig Daily Press that said 'anyone interested in starting a humane society, come to this meeting,'" she said.
Kruczek and several others attended the meeting and felt compelled to provide the much-needed service in Moffat County.
Obtaining non-profit status has been a major goal of the group, but pending notification from the state on official status, the group continues to make forward progress.
"Right now, we are an organization, not a location. We can be wherever we need to be," Kruczek said. "When people wish to contact us, they can call and leave a message."
Kruczek said that volunteers check the messages each day and return phone calls.
Perhaps one of the biggest accomplishments to date for the Humane Society is the launch of the reduced-cost spay, neuter and vaccination program last January.
And, while society members know that reaching everyone in need won't happen overnight, they have provided services for 68 cats and dogs since the program began.
"If we can stop just some of the cat and dog pregnancies, then we've made a difference," Kruczek said.
In Moffat County, households with an annual income of less than $25,000 are eligible for the reduced-cost services. Minimal paperwork is required to receive the services, and because of cooperation from local veterinarians, each approved client is free to use the animal clinic of their choice.
"When I answer the phone, it has been a wonderful experience," Kruczek said. "I thank people for stepping up and taking responsibility for their pets and preventing unwanted puppies and kittens."
Kruczek views each call to the humane society an opportunity to talk to people about taking care of their pets.
Volunteers for the Humane Society have taken their efforts to a new level this year with a program that makes dog and cat kits available to Advocates Crisis Support Services. The kits are complete with food and water bowls, toys, blankets and other species-specific items, and are given to people who are leaving abusive situations and want to take their pets.
"Often times you have mothers and children who will leave, and what happens to the pets?" Kruczek said. "This project can contribute to the wellness of the family. Children won't have to lose everything."
Pet waste pick-up stations are another large project for the society this year.
"I really have a feel for this issue because we walk our dogs at Loudy-Simpson," Kruczek said. "In certain areas, especially by the lake when they close it off for the winter, it is a sea of dog poop. It is a luxury to think that someone else will pick up after your dog."
If things go as planned, city and county residents will have no excuse not to pick up after their pets. There are currently several waste pick-up stations placed along the trail at Loudy-Simpson and the Humane Society provided many stations to the City of Craig that will eventually be placed in parks and other public areas.
"Having pets is wonderful, but there is plenty of responsibility to make pets more acceptable in our community," Kruczek said.
Possibly the largest project for the new year is the pet foster care program.
"Foster care is a way of helping animals not to get euthanized," Kruczek said.
The program, which might be modeled after the Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, places pets at risk of euthanasia in loving homes until the pets can be adopted.
"The concept is similar to fostering children," Kruczek said. "Foster parents must be willing to meet emotional needs, teach pets how to live in society and keep them safe. Then, they must be willing to give them up, which may be the hardest part."
"We are looking for people who are willing to come to a meeting and learn the parameters of foster care and what exactly it entails," Kruczek said.
In light of recent city and county budget concerns, the Humane Society views foster care as a means to alleviate the budget issue.
"Animals that have run out of time at the shelter can go into foster care," Kruczek said. "They can be put in someone's home and people can work with them one-on-one to make them more adoptable, while keeping them in the public eye."
Because the Humane Society doesn't have a local facility, volunteer organizations such as the Interfaith Food Bank are willing to help the cause by accepting pet food donations, toys and cat littler.
For those who prefer monetary donations, small doghouse-shaped donation jars are placed around Craig.
Samantha Johnston can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org