The cost to adopt a pet in Cortez just became more expensive after the Cortez City Council approved a new ordinance to increase fees at the Cortez Animal Shelter.
The council, in December, discussed the proposed rate increase and decided to move forward - thinking that if a resident could not afford the extra fees he or she probably would not have the funds to provide adequate care for the pet.
Beginning Jan. 1, the adoption rate for dogs increased to $85 plus a mandatory $15 microchip fee. Cat adoptions are now $45 plus the mandatory $15 microchip fee. City licenses for pets increased to $10 for spayed/neutered animals and $25 for unaltered animals in the city limits.
Fees to reclaim impounded dogs increased to $50 for the first offense, $60 for second offenses, $75 for third offenses and $100 for fourth offenses.
City Manager Shane Hale said one reason for the increase was to recoup the veterinarian fees that the city was incurring. The Cortez shelter does not have a veterinarian on staff.
"The shelter is not a place where the city makes money," Hale said.
The fees for adoptions were slightly more expensive in most cases than what the La Plata County Humane Society in Durango charges when the extra charges are added in.
The Durango humane society charges a $100 adoption fee for puppies that are 6 months old or younger, while adult dogs up to 7 years of age cost $85 to adopt. Dogs older than 7 years of age and dogs that have been at the shelter for more than 45 days can be adopted for $60.
However, the Humane Society charges a $200 adoption fee for small breed puppies under 20 pounds and 6 months of age, and $150 for an adult small breed dog up to 4 years of age.
A small breed dog more than 4 years of age costs $85 to adopt from the Humane Society.
The Humane Society fees include spay and neutering, the first set of shots, a free wellness check with one of the participating veterinarians and microchipping. It does not include rabies vaccinations.
The Cortez Animal Shelter does not have different fees for different types of dogs.
The cost to adopt a cat is almost identical between the two facilities when taking into account the Humane Society's free microchipping and the $15 charge at the Cortez Animal Shelter.
Jennifer Crouse, kennel supervisor for the Cortez Animal Shelter, said she does not think the higher fees will discourage residents wanting to adopt pets.
She said the new fees are still some of the lowest in the state, and added the fees at the Durango facility would be higher if they didn't have a licensed veterinarian on staff.
Crouse said the Cortez shelter, which averages 30 dog and 20 cat adoptions a month during the summer, wants to make sure people are committed before adopting.
"Hopefully, this will make people more responsible," she said. "Adopting an animal is a 10- to 15-year commitment."
The price structure is not set in stone, she said mentioning if a shelter animal has already been spayed or neutered that fee may be waived.
Crouse said the increased fees came at the request of the shelter because of the additional costs being absorbed.
The kennel supervisor said the shelter was not breaking even, so something had to be done.
"We have to recover the costs," she said.
Crouse said the adoption fees have not increased in more than 12 years, and animal costs have dramatically gone up in that time.
"We are trying to keep up with the times," she said.
For more information, call the shelter at 565-4910.