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Betty and Davos were the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter’s first transplants from a kill shelter in Roswell, New Mexico. They were flown to Denver by a volunteer pilot with Pilots N Paws, then transported from Colorado to Teton Valley by a chain of animal lovers. They both were quickly adopted out, and the shelter has already brought in more dogs from Roswell and other maxed-out facilities.

Recently the Teton Valley Community Animal Shelter board decided to allow the shelter to transfer animals in from out of county. That, along with a rejuvenated social media strategy and a dynamic team, has meant a lot more pets moving through the shelter and into welcoming homes.

Previously, it was the shelter’s policy to only take in dogs from Teton County because the Teton Valley community supports the nonprofit organization. But as result, the shelter, which is located near the transfer station in Driggs, hasn’t had a large pool of dogs to adopt out.

“Because the community has done such a good job in recent years of spaying and neutering, we’ve had a lower intake of valley dogs,” explained shelter manager Julie Dethardt. “And this is such a dog friendly community, so we’ve been able to alleviate the burden from some kill shelters, where they’re euthanizing highly adoptable dogs.”

TVCAS has formed just such a relationship with a pound in Roswell, New Mexico. Two dogs were flown by the volunteer animal transportation service Pilots N Paws to Denver and a chain of volunteer drivers coordinated via the Facebook page Wyoming Transport to get the dogs from Denver to the open arms of Teton Valley. Several more dogs have since come up from New Mexico, and TVCAS has also taken in Idaho Falls dogs, with many success stories to tell.

“They had epic journeys to find their homes,” said Rebeca Nolan, the acting veterinary technician at TVCAS. One dog, a sweet-faced little black lab mix named Betty, caught the eye of the Pilots N Paws pilot and he soon arrived in Teton Valley to adopt her. Her companion on the first flight, Davos, also quickly found a family.

Dethardt, who joined TVCAS management a year ago, said that her team came into this summer’s fundraising season with tons of ideas.

“We’ve stepped it up ten notches, in social media, donations, and foot traffic. There’s great energy and we want the whole community to come see it,” she said.

Dethardt credited social media manager Mariella Schauster with increasing the interest around new adoptable pets.

“We have been receiving applications and adopting out to other states in the west, so word is getting out thanks to Mari’s constant posting and updating on social media,” she said.

Shelter staff members and volunteers have been taking dogs to the artisan market and farmers market to introduce them to the public, and Dethardt said to keep an eye out for upcoming adoption events and parties.

There are plenty of easy opportunities to help the shelter. In addition to cash donations, just small expenditures of effort make a big difference for the animals’ wellbeing.

“We’re always running low on bleach and paper towels,” Dethardt said. “Community service is always welcome if you need to get service hours. Or come grab a friendly dog for a hike, and let them enjoy this great place we live too.”

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