Good news for animal lovers in rural Colorado: Denver-based Dumb Friends League (DFL) is opening a shelter in Alamosa County with space to care for 2,500 homeless pets. The San Luis Valley Animal Center is expected to open this summer and will fill a large gap in animal care for the surrounding region—which has historically struggled to find resources to care for at-risk animals. 

As the 8,500-square-foot facility takes shape (the groundbreaking is planned for April), DFL plans to start offering spay and neuter services, subsidized vet care, temporary pet housing, behavioral care, policy advocacy, and humane education programs in the months and years to come. 

In 2019, DFL helped over 21,608 pets through adoption, spay and neuter services, and behavioral training. Rural Colorado, though, is a different story. While across the Front Range, many animal shelters devote around $400 per animal to general care, in Alamosa County, that number drops to about $100 per animal, due to a larger number of needy animals and less funding, says Duane Adams, DFL’s vice president of operations. 

Beyond the Front Range, support for specific animals is also lacking—shelters that house homeless cats, for instance, can’t be found in many parts of rural Colorado. Fighting against a constant influx of homeless pets, the animal care organizations that work in Alamosa County are struggling to deal with significant hurdles.

“What we’re doing is a little unique, building a center three hours away” Adams says. “It’s a pilot program. If [an organization] is doing well and has a huge shelter with a lot of support, you have to look at your neighbors and ask what they need, too.”

Courtesy of Dumb Friends League

The new center, though, is not solely the product of DFL’s work. The San Luis Valley Animal Center will be built on land donated by the City of Alamosa and Alamosa County. And in order to offer a full range of services, DDFL is collaborating with the Valley Humane League and local veterinarians. All told, the facility will cost about $1.7 million, much of which was contributed by DDFL donor and art collector Henry Roath; the rest was contributed by the Animal Assistance Foundation and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). 

The San Luis Valley Animal Center should be open in August or September 2020. In the meantime, pet lovers who would like to support Dumb Friends League can volunteer, adopt a special needs cat like Figaro, follow the organization’s Instagram for a daily dose of cuteness, or bring your pup along to the Furry Scurry, a two mile dog walk and fun run in May—all proceeds of which support Dumb Friends League.