The Bitterroot Valley is located near the western border of Montana and follows the Bitterroot River from Missoula south to the Idaho border. Ravalli County (population 40,000) is in the valley. Towns in the area include Hamilton (the county seat, population 4300) and Stevensville (1800).
Stray animal and owner surrender sheltering is provided in Ravalli County, Hamilton and Stevensville by the Bitter Root Humane Association (BRHA). A shelter official told me in a telephone conversation that BRHA has no conditions on owner surrenders and that surrenders are accepted upon presentation. I was also told that BRHA takes in some transfers from rescues and other shelters when they need help. BRHA refers most feral cats to a local TNR program.
BRHA has a whole suite of enrichment programs for dogs and cats during their stay at the shelter. The programs for dogs include play groups and one-on-one training. Cats have colony housing. Before leaving the shelter to go home with an adopter, animals are spayed or neutered and microchipped. BRHA has a volunteer corp that helps with humane education and offsite adoptions.
The Ravalli County commission recently decided that initial intake of stray dogs would be by a local veterinarian. The ultimate responsibility for stray dogs will still be assumed by BRHA, though, because the veterinarian said she will not euthanize strays who are not reclaimed or adopted and instead may have to take them to BRHA for sheltering.
A shelter official sent me BRHA’s statistics for 2012. They took in 1048 animals in 2012, which is an intake of 26 per 1000 population. Their live release rate was 96%. Owner-requested euthanasia is not done unless medically indicated, and is counted with other euthanasias.
Ravalli County, MT, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.