Friends of Charlie’s Place “Rock the Shelter”

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Local non-profit helps support the Clear Creek/Gilpin Animal Shelter

by Patty Unruh

Friends of Charlie’s Place (“Friends”) held a “Rock the Shelter” event for the benefit of the Clear Creek/Gilpin County Animal Shelter on Saturday evening, April 29, at the Elks Lodge in Central City.

Last week’s spring storm hampered the turnout a bit, but those who came enjoyed several varieties of chili, a cash bar, and “big hair” contests for guys and gals, all in a lively atmosphere of ‘70’s rock n’ roll dance music. The tunes were provided by Josh Reagon, a junior at Clear Creek High School, who plays a lot of the Friends events.

The Reserve Casino donated the green chili, and Friends volunteers prepared the red and veggie varieties. Pulled pork was provided through a donation by the Smokin Yards BBQ in Idaho Springs.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Charlie’s Place, which is dedicated to saving the lives of companion animals. In fact, it has saved 2,000 cats and dogs since it opened. The shelter is owned and managed by Clear Creek County and serves both Clear Creek and Gilpin Counties, providing a safe environment for abandoned, stray, and impounded dogs and cats. The shelter reports to the Clear Creek Sheriff to assist with animal control.

The shelter is named for a German shepherd named “Charlie,” the favorite dog of Helen Buck, a local animal lover who donated property for the shelter.

Charlie’s Place is located in Dumont, just off of I-70. Its location gives it a prominent presence in the Dumont, Idaho Springs, and Georgetown communities, but many Gilpin residents are unaware of the shelter and the many services it offers.

Friends volunteers hope to raise awareness in Gilpin through holding fundraisers and appearing at county events with animals available for adoption. Rock the Shelter was the first fundraiser they have done in Gilpin, although the group has taken part in Gilpin events.

Last December, the group had a booth at the Gilpin Community Center’s Winter Arts Festival with six animals, all of whom were adopted. This August, Friends will be at the Gilpin County Fair for another pet adoption opportunity.

Friends volunteers Kathleen Ashpaugh and Donna Gee organized the event at the Elks Lodge last Saturday. They, along with all Friends volunteers, are excited about the many services offered by Charlie’s Place, especially their spay-neuter voucher program.

“75 percent of our funding goes directly to the care of the shelter animals, and a lot of that goes back to the community through the spay-neuter program,” Gee said. “This really helps with the overpopulation problem. Friends of Charlie’s Place has paid for 22 spay-neuters for county pets and 24 shelter animals this year to date.”

Charlie’s Place, like all non-profits, depends on its volunteers. There are presently about 22 folks who help at the shelter, and more are always welcome.

“One group comes to walk the dogs and pet the cats,” Gee advised. “We have about 13 in our core group of volunteers.”

Most of the volunteers are from the Idaho Springs, Georgetown, and Dumont area. Ashpaugh is from Central City, the first active volunteer from Gilpin.

Sue LeBarron, the shelter manager, noted, “Our volunteer base is growing, and we’ve had lots of success at getting more dogs into the community.”

Volunteerism helps greatly, and money donations from community members are much appreciated. Also, one function of Friends is to write grants. Charlie’s Place has received grants on several occasions from the Adopt-a-Pet license plate program for its spay-neuter program. They receive an annual grant from the Slacker Races, a half marathon that is run from Loveland to Georgetown.

Year to date, Friends has received $6,000 from the City of Black Hawk, $671 from its Valentine’s fundraising event, and should soon receive $5,000 from the Colorado Pet

Overpopulation Authority. Cash donations equal $2,436. The organization should also receive a grant later this year from the Lauretta Boyd Foundation.

Shelter dogs are trained and socialized to make them more adoptable. This training was evident recently in a special way. Representatives from the Freedom Service Dogs organization, which is its own non-profit, partners with the shelter. They came to Charlie’s Place and tested some of the dogs to determine their suitability to be Freedom Service Dogs. A couple of dogs were accepted and will be trained to assist a specific person, such as a diabetic, military veteran, or person with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Guests at Rock the Shelter included Belita Persichini, a local resident. She said, “I had a cat named Max that I couldn’t keep due to allergies, so I gave him to Charlie’s Place. They found him a good new home.”

“We want to adopt a dog,” said Gilpinites Twila and Al Thomann. “They bring so much joy.”

Rock the Shelter was just one of many events that Friends of Charlie’s Place will host this year. They have already put on a volunteer appreciation and recruitment party in January and a Valentine’s Day “Kats & Dogs” event, both in Idaho Springs.

The next event is the 6th Annual Canine on the Creek 5K Run and 10th Anniversary Party on May 13, starting at 10:30 at the shelter in Dumont. Check the website for registration fees and to get further information about this and other 2017 events.

Shelter Success Stories

“Blue” is a young pit bull who was having a hard time. He had no manners and had been given no direction in his life.

“New volunteer James Nations started working with Blue and was able to work magic. Blue now participates in playgroups with other dogs and walks better on leash,” said Ashpaugh.

“Spuds,” a sweet pit bull mix, was at the shelter for over a year and was getting very depressed. Several volunteers began taking him on hikes or car rides to McDonalds, which helped. A new volunteer trainer began working with him, fell in love with him, and adopted him. Always a good ending!

Shelter Contact Information

The shelter is located at 500 West Dumont Road in Dumont. Phone: 303-679-2477. Website: Email: or (off hours). Follow Charlie’s Place on Facebook (charliesplaceshelter).

Friends website is Board members are President Laurie Phenix, Vice President Debbie Smith, Treasurer Sher Karner, Secretary/Volunteer Coordinator Donna Gee, Event Coordinator Kathleen Ashpaugh.

Spay/neuter program contact is Donna Gee at 303-668-0924.

Services and Facilities

Charlie’s Place offers dog and cat adoptions, microchipping, humane animal trap loans, spay and neuter vouchers, vaccination clinics, and out-of-shelter rehabilitation of dogs with serious but correctible behavior issues.

Charlie’s Corner Exercise Park is an enclosed area for shelter dogs to run free and enjoy play groups. The Helen Buck Memorial Park offers a sanctuary for people to honor and remember their pets. A new catio provides resident cats with exercise. Volunteers were integral in constructing these facilities.

An annual newsletter goes to Nederland, Gilpin, Evergreen, and Clear Creek, and monthly newsletters are available on the website.

Other resources include referral to local veterinarians, euthanasia resources, training and behavior tips, and recommended trainers.

How to Help

There are many ways to volunteer, including walking or training dogs, visiting with the cats, providing foster care for animals with special needs, helping to keep the shelter clean, and joining the Friends of Charlie’s Place.

Supplies such as training treats, blankets, new dog collars, clay kitty litter, cat and dog food, and other items are needed.

Tax deductible donations can be sent to Friends of Charlie’s Place, P.O Box 292, Dumont, CO 80436, or donate via Paypal on their website.

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