Position Statements

Responsible Pet Ownership

Adopting a pet means welcoming the pet into your home as a family member. Every pet deserves to be treated with kindness, compassion, and love. As humans, it is our responsibility to ensure that our pets are cared for in every way, both physically and emotionally. We are responsible for ensuring that our pets are well behaved and well managed for their safety and for the safety of others.

Responsible pet owners make sure their pet is spayed or neutered, microchipped, and wearing an ID tag. Microchips and ID tags are essential for reuniting a pet with its owner if the pet becomes lost. Pets are usually frightened and stressed if brought to a shelter, and their normal behavior may not be evident, causing shelter staff to label the animal as unadoptable after the hold period ends. This greatly increases the risk of euthanasia before being able to locate the pet’s owner. A microchip and ID tag will eliminate this issue entirely for the pet and enables shelters to reunite the pet with their owners quickly and easily.

Animal Rescue of the Rockies believes that all family cats should live indoors and never be allowed to roam outdoors freely. A catio or enclosed outdoor space can give your cat fresh air and sunshine while keeping him or her safe from predators and other dangers. The phrase “curiosity killed the cat” is all too true in many circumstances. Cat harnesses and leashes and pet strollers can give your cat options for enjoying the great outdoors with you!

If you’re considering adopting a pet, we suggest the following:

  • Choose the right pet for you and your family. Consider your living situation, budget and time constraints, and ensure that the pet you choose has the right energy level for your family.
  • Budget the time and money necessary for proper care. Pets are both a time and financial commitment and they deserve lifetime care.
  • Care for your pet responsibly at home, in cars, outdoors, and anywhere you visit with them.
  • Make sure your pet is spayed or neutered and properly vaccinated. Make sure your pet is microchipped and wears an ID tag at all times. Consider pet insurance to ensure that your pet receives medical care when necessary.
  • Never allow your animal to be a nuisance. Think of your pet as an ambassador. Well-mannered pets are critical for harmony within communities.
  • Take the time to create a plan to ensure that your pet will be cared for during unexpected life events, such as a natural disaster or home fire.
  • Consider setting up a formal arrangement for your pet’s well-being in the event that something happens to you. Ask a relative or friend if they could take your pet, or research organizations such as Best Friends that may offer lifetime care programs. Appropriate research should be conducted to understand the costs and details associated with lifetime care programs.

Cat Declawing

Animal Rescue of the Rockies is opposed to the practice of cat declawing, a painful and inhumane procedure. Permanently maiming a cat and leaving him/her with potential long-term issues such as biting or aggression cannot be justified for what is ultimately an owner-convenience procedure. Declawing removes the existing claw and a portion of the bone, similar to removing the first knuckle of a human finger.

Cat owners who have concerns about scratching behavior should seek non-surgical management techniques such as vinyl nail caps, or simply offer scratching posts. Keeping the cat’s nails trimmed can also help with destructive scratching. 

Dog Debarking

Animal Rescue of the Rockies opposes the practice of debarking dogs and believes it should never be used as a method of convenience for owners. A surgery to remove the tissue of the vocal cords may reduce the noise level of a bark, but it does nothing to address the behavioral issue underlying the excessive barking. Owning a dog is a commitment, and we believe owners should work through behavioral issues with training to address issues instead of considering a surgery that doesn’t resolve the underlying problem. 

Dog Training Methods

Animal Rescue of the Rockies believes training is an essential tool in helping to save the lives of more dogs and avoid returns to shelters. Training helps owners understand how to communicate better with their dogs, resulting in dogs staying in their forever homes.

Many methodologies and philosophical approaches to training exist. We believe training approaches should be tailored to the individual dog, taking into account the dog’s history and current circumstances.

We do not approve of training methods that use excessive force or cause pain. We recognize that there are risks that come with some training techniques, such as aversion, and to minimize those risks, these techniques should only be used in certain situations with very skilled trainers.

Animal Rescue of the Rockies does not exclusively practice or endorse one specific methodology. We understand that there are a variety of methods to achieve positive outcomes in a dog’s particular environment. In every instance, our main goal is to keep dogs and humans safe, find forever homes for our foster dogs, and give them every chance to succeed in their new home. 

Aggressive Animals

Animal Rescue of the Rockies believes every animal is an individual and deserves to be treated as such. No matter what the animal’s history is, we believe that every animal deserves, at the very least, an opportunity to be evaluated and given the opportunity to overcome any undesirable behaviors.

If a dog commits an unprovoked attack on a human or another animal that results in a serious injury, the dog should be managed appropriately to protect the public and other animals. Such management might include confinement to an adequately secured owner’s property, muzzling when in public, mandatory behavior modification training and other non-lethal means to protect the public during any attempts at rehabilitation.

We believe that every effort should be made to rehabilitate any dog who has aggression issues. There are many reasons why a dog can become psychologically damaged and dangerous, including abuse, neglect, under-socialization, aggression training or medical issues.

If appropriate care for a dangerous dog cannot be secured, then euthanasia may be considered. A behavioral and veterinary consultation should be obtained to ensure that experts in care and behavior are helping to make this decision. In the event that the aggression is so severe or has associated physical suffering as its underlying cause and the necessary management protocol is so restrictive as to compromise the animal’s quality of life, then we would consider euthanasia an acceptable method for relieving that  nimal’s suffering and poor quality of life. Such a decision would be made by consultation with a licensed animal behaviorist and a veterinarian, after careful consultation with the animal’s caregivers. 


Animal Rescue of the Rockies believes that no healthy or otherwise treatable animal should be killed when alternatives exist to save them. “Euthanasia” means ending the life of an animal who is suffering from an irreparable medical or behavioral condition that does not allow for an acceptable quality of life. We believe that euthanasia is appropriate when a veterinarian has assessed that there is no chance of recovering an acceptable quality of life for that animal. We understand that there may be rare times when forgoing a veterinary assessment is appropriate and humane. For example, there are times when an animal control officer finds an animal hit by a vehicle and the animal is clearly suffering and/or death is imminent, and times when an animal is clearly unsafe (e.g., a dog is in the process of attacking and seriously injuring a person and law enforcement intervenes to protect the person).

Euthanasia may be pursued in very rare cases of irreparable animal aggression in which:

  • a veterinarian has eliminated medical treatment as a solution
  • rehabilitation efforts by canine behavior specialists have failed
  • public safety cannot be reasonably assured
  • other management protocols would seriously compromise the pet’s quality of life.

The only method of euthanasia that Animal Rescue of the Rockies accepts is that recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association, specifically the use of veterinarian-prescribed sedatives and FDA-approved euthanasia solutions administered in as comforting and loving a situation as possible. 

Pregnant spays

Animal Rescue of the Rockies believes that, ideally, animals determined to be pregnant should be placed in foster care until the offspring are old enough to be spayed or neutered and placed for adoption. Recognizing that limited resources may be available (both financially and foster space limitations), if a pregnant dog or cat is determined to be in the very early stages of pregnancy, the decision may be made to terminate the early pregnancy in order to provide the best quality care for the mama dog or cat and for existing foster pets.

Truly feral cats should be spayed or neutered regardless of the status of their pregnancy. Because of their behavioral challenges, feral cats cannot be examined properly until after they’ve been anesthetized, and feral mothers are likely to ignore or kill kittens born into the threatening captive environment. 

Giving Pets as Gifts or Prizes

Each holiday season, stories hit the media that feature warnings to the public about the dangers of giving pets as gifts. However, studies show that pets given as gifts are not any more likely to be returned, nor are they are any less loved than animals adopted through more traditional means. Turning away someone interested in adopting a pet for a gift may encourage that person to turn to another resource such as the internet, classified ads, pet stores, or “backyard breeders” to obtain the pet.

To ensure a successful adoption, we suggest giving an “adoption gift certificate” in lieu of a live pet as a gift or prize. This gives the recipient the chance to choose their own pet personally and to be a part of the process of choosing a companion that will hopefully spend many years with them.

Animal Rescue of the Rockies’ adoption coordinators will always complete due diligence on potential adopters, and potential adopters should be informed that an adoption certificate will only be redeemed if they fulfill adoption requirements. 

Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR)

Animal Rescue of the Rockies endorses and practices trap-neuter-return (TNR) as the most humane and effective way to manage community cats. Killing, by contrast, is simply a revolving door. Any cat removed from a colony and killed will likely be replaced by another.

Background on TNR taken from Best Friends Animal Society’s website:

TNR is the only method that demonstrates a reasonable chance of controlling community cat populations. Done properly, TNR stabilizes, and ultimately lowers, cat colony size, 1, 2, 3 and reduces or eliminates many of the undesirable behavior of intact cats, such as fighting for mates and territory, noise, and spraying. 4,5 Under standard TNR practice, community cats are humanely trapped, evaluated and sterilized by a licensed veterinarian, vaccinated against rabies and distemper and then returned to their  original habitat. The tip of one ear is often clipped at the time of sterilization surgery, as this is the universally recognized indicator that a community cat has been sterilized. Often, a colony caregiver provides food in a safe location, shelter as appropriate, and routinely observes the health of colony cats. If new cats join the colony, they are also trapped, sterilized, vaccinated and returned.

Whatever ills one might associate (rightly or wrongly) with free roaming cats — whether public health concerns, wildlife predation, or anything else — it’s clear that these problems cannot be addressed in a comprehensive manner without the stabilization and eventual reduction in the level of the community cat population. As an examination of the available alternatives makes clear, TNR is the only humane and most effective way to manage community cats. History has taught us that trap-and-kill results in nothing but constant turnover — new feline faces, but no reduction in numbers. For this reason, municipal shelters are now beginning to implement their own large-scale, targeted TNR programs for eligible cats entering the shelter system. To most effectively reduce the population of community cats, these return-to-field programs operate in conjunction with community-based TNR programs.

  1. Nutter, F.B., Evaluation of a Trap-Neuter-Return Management Program for Feral Cat Colonies: Population Dynamics, Home Ranges, and Potentially Zoonotic Diseases, in Comparative Biomedical Department 2005, North Carolina State University: Raleigh, NC. p. 224.
  2. Natoli, E., et al., Management of feral domestic cats in the urban environment of Rome (Italy). Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 2006. 77(3-4): p. 180–185.
  3. Levy, J.K., D.W. Gale, and L.A. Gale, Evaluation of the effect of a long-term trapneuter-return and adoption program on a free-roaming cat population. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2003. 222(1): p. 42–46.
  4. Hughes, K.L., M.R. Slater, and L. Haller, The Effects of Implementing a Feral CatSpay/Neuter Program in a Florida County Animal Control Service. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2002. 5(4): p. 285–298
  5. Hughes, K.L. and M.R. Slater, Implementation of a Feral Cat Management Program on a University Campus. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2002. 5(1): p. 15– 28.