New Shelter FAQs

Please click on the questions below to view the answers, which include links to public study sessions, related documents, and data about the new animal shelter project.

Project Update - May 2020

The soils being taken from the land south of the Animal Shelter are for another project, the closure of the Old Shooting Range at 14451 Riverdale Rd., just north of E-470 on the west side of Riverdale. That project requires soils with a specific content of sand/clay mixtures to properly cap and cover the old landfill on that property. Soils from the area south of the new shelter meet the specific requirements needed and have saved the county tens of thousands of dollars over having them shipped in from other sources. Unfortunately, this has temporarily increased truck traffic on Riverdale Rd. and will be a short-term inconvenience completed in August. Trucking in soils from alternate sources would have increased truck traffic even more and on longer stretches of Riverdale Rd. Use of the newly paved Park Blvd. for this trucking would require the crossing of an operational irrigation ditch. While the ditch crossings already installed are complete, soils spillage into the ditch and/or damage to the crossings is not allowed. In addition, this would only shorten the traffic on Riverdale Rd. by approximately half a mile but would increase the overall trip distance by more than a mile. The current route is the most efficient, least impactful, and shortest trucking route available.

Dust control and stormwater management are required for the excavations and soils removals for both projects. Instances of improper controls will be addressed with the contractors.

The Animal Shelter site will be regraded, and no “holes” will be left. The site will still slope gradually from Riverdale Rd. to Park Blvd. as it historically has. Our intent is to return portions of the site around the shelter to agriculture use, and the county is exploring options to continue those functions.

Site landscaping will be installed around the new Riverdale Animal Shelter. However, no large trees or obscuring landscaping will be installed to “block” views of the roof. The exterior design, including color selections, of the facility was made to reflect the agricultural heritage of the county and Riverdale Rd. Specifically, use of native stones, metal sidings and roofing, stucco, and similar materials often found on barns and silos, were used for the new facility. These selections and choices were all approved by the Community & Economic Development land use regulations and by county leadership.

An excerpt from the website regarding the emergency service road is included below. As noted, this is a temporary gravel roadway for service and emergency access only. We do have the required “tracking pads” on the gravel road and stormwater control methods in place. These are monitored on a weekly basis and inspected every couple of weeks.


Adams County will continue to monitor and enforce dust controls. Contract documents, as well as both state and local regulatory requirements require dust mitigation. If there are instances of excess dust development noted, please contact the Facilities Department at 720.523.6006, and we will address with the contractors.

Illicit dumping is not acceptable to Adams County and will be corrected when encountered. There have been barriers and temporary gates previously placed at the drive lane entrance. The county is exploring options for access control for the remainder of the project.

Landscaping plans have already been approved, and final landscaping and planting is ongoing as of May 2020 and will be in place for the completion of the project in the summer of 2020. The project incorporated landscaping requirements through land use approvals as well as recommendations from a professional landscape architect and staff from the Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts, Facilities & Fleet Management, and the Animal Shelter. While the county appreciates opportunities for community partnering, no additional landscaping at the Animal Shelter is planned at this time.

Todd Creek Metropolitan District is managing all three of these lakes near the Animal Shelter site. The intent, working with the county’s Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts Department, is that one of the three lakes may be considered for “contact” but will not allow any motor sports. Please refer additional inquiries on the use of the lakes, contact, or associated water questions to either the Parks, Open Space & Cultural Arts Department or to Todd Creek Metropolitan District.

New Animal Shelter Project Status

Yes. The new animal shelter location was approved by the Board of County Commissioners in a public study session on September 16, 2016, and the new shelter project and funding was approved in a public study session on December 6, 2016, as part of the 2017 budget process. The new shelter will be located on the south end of the Adams County Regional Park between E. 120th Parkway and Henderson Road on land owned by Adams County. The new shelter is anticipated to open in mid 2019.

It is still very important to create opportunities to receive feedback from citizens about the animal shelter project. This includes opportunities to answer questions and mitigate any concerns for those residents who live closest to the new shelter site. The intention is for the shelter to exist as a good neighbor to local residents, while still performing critical functions and serving as a community resource at the Regional Park.

In addition to public study sessions announced on the county’s website and held in both 2015 and 2016 about the new animal shelter, public meetings/open houses were held on March 21, 2017 (New Animal Shelter) April 8, 2017 (Regional Park Master Plan) and on May 23, 2017 (New Animal Shelter). The public meetings were held at the Adams County Regional Park and dates were announced and posted on the county website. Post card mailers also went out to more than 500 households of residents living closest to the new site location at the Regional Park.

The new shelter is being funded through existing Adams County resources, and will not require any increase in taxes.

The new shelter is planned to open in mid 2019.

The new shelter architect firm is G Squared Design located in Lakewood, Colorado. (G Squared is also partnering with Blue Skye Animal Care Architecture for portions of the new shelter design).

Why a New Shelter?

The current shelter, located at 10705 Fulton Street within Commerce City, was retro-fitted from an existing warehouse in 2002. While much effort was put forth into to making the shelter as functional as possible, the structure was not originally designed for sheltering animals. For this reason, operating out of the current facility poses an array of challenges, which can negatively impact animal care and health, efficiency, safety, service delivery to the public and overall public image. This does not mean animals are not being adequately cared for, but rather the facility is being outpaced in terms of modern animal sheltering standards, evolving regulatory requirements and the increasing demands of our rapidly growing population in Adams County.

For example, the open ceiling design does not allow for adequate noise abatement or sufficient containment of airborne illnesses. An undersized and outdated health clinic limits the types and number of procedures that can be performed. Inadequate flooring, outdated kennel design and the absence of housing space for small mammals hinder operations. The lack of separation between intake and adoption services, inadequate visiting rooms and a shortage of public parking also negatively impacts service delivery to citizens.

Lastly, the shelter’s current location in an area with heavy industrial uses and minimal open space is not ideal. Limited visibility and accessibility are constant challenges. The absence of adequate green space, trails or sidewalks in the area makes walking shelter dogs both difficult and unsafe for staff and volunteers.

An analysis has shown the cost of renovating the current facility would be nearly as much as building the new one. It would also require rolling closures and major disruptions in services over several years. Even if a remodel were feasible and cost effective, the current location is simply not well suited for a modern animal shelter.

The expanded health clinic, improved noise abatement, and disease containment features will significantly decrease stress and illness for shelter animals and make for a better visitor experience. Additional public parking, private adoption rooms, and a dedicated lost and found lobby will help streamline the adoption process and improve efforts to reunite more lost pets with their families. Walking trails and a spacious public off-leash dog park will add to the recreational amenities offered at the Regional Park.

The current shelter is 41,000 square feet and the new shelter will be approximately 45,000 square feet.

Animal welfare practices have evolved, including those that help move animals to adoption faster than in years past. For this reason, the number of holding kennels in some areas of the new shelter will be decreased, while other animal spaces will be increased because they are either too small or nonexistent in the current facility. These include expanding the health clinic, animal intake rooms, animal control receiving areas, court hold kennels, and adding specific puppy, kitten and small animal rooms, which are absent at the current facility. In other words, we will become more efficient by shrinking some spaces, while enlarging others to better support the constant flow of animals, and improve service delivery to the public.

Shelter Operations

The shelter is open to the public from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends.

The shelter provides adoptions, lost and found services, low-cost vaccine clinics, pet licensing, microchips, veterinary care for shelter animals, spay and neuter for adoptable animals, owner surrenders, end of life services, impounding services for animal control, and is the county’s designated evacuation site for pet animals displaced in emergencies.

In addition to unincorporated Adams County, the shelter serves the cities of Commerce City, Federal Heights, Northglenn and Thornton, as well as the towns of Bennett and Lochbuie.

The shelter takes in nearly 6,000 stray, abandoned, and neglected animals per year, and provides nearly 3,000 additional owned animals in the community with vaccinations. While the shelter takes in animals every day of the year, the highest volume of animals is sheltered between late spring and early fall, with peak numbers of animals during the summer months.

Animals in Shelter 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Beginning Year Live Animal Count 432 295 262 222 167
Total Live Intakes 5,644 5,584 6.006 5,283 5,516
Total Live Animals Sheltered 6.076 5,879 6,268 5,505 5,683
Owned Animals Vaccinated 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Reclaim No Data No Data No Data 1,377 1,460
Public Vaccination Clinic N/A N/A 615 935 1,432
Total Owned Animals Vaccinated o o 615 2,312 2,892
*Shelter was closed 1 day/week (2015)          
Total Live Animals Served 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
In shelter + vaccination clinic 6,076 5,879 6,883 6,440 7,115

Primarily dogs and cats, but the shelter also takes in a variety of small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and birds, and even the occasional small farm animal.

New Shelter Location, Planning and Zoning

The existing zoning is A-3, Agricultural. This zone district allows the uses proposed within this project; therefore no zoning change is required. The project team will meet all county requirements and will obtain building and engineering permits.

No. The building for the new shelter will be outside of the 100-year floodplain. Some portions of the property in this area are within the floodplain, but not the building site itself.

More than 30 properties (that were available at the time of the site location search), were considered for the new animal shelter. This site was selected based on a variety of factors that support animal shelter operations and service delivery to the public, as well as specific criteria including, but not limited to:

he site location search), were considered for the new animal shelter. This site was selected based on a variety of factors that support animal shelter operations and service delivery to the public, as well as specific criteria including, but not limited to:

From the size of the site, the visibility from 120th Pkwy., and a physical environment that is friendly for people and pets, the Regional Park location embodies the vast majority of the above criteria. Placing animal shelters on or near regional parks or local fairgrounds is a common model found throughout the United States. This setting is not only a fitting location for animals, but also one that allows the shelter to function as a true community resource. Space for the public dog park also brings a new recreational amenity to the area.

This area is in a floodway, an area where water from the actual flood plain area will flow into during a flood event. For this reason, it is not an appropriate location to build a structure such as the animal shelter.

Water service will be provided by a well that meets all permitting requirements of the State of Colorado, Division of Water Resources. Metro Wastewater will provide public wastewater services.

Will drilling a well on the new shelter site impact water use for residents in this area?

The proposed new well will draw from the Lower Arapahoe aquifer, which is a different aquifer than residents directly to north of the site. In addition, per regulations, the new well must be at least 600 feet from any other wells. This new well or future new wells will need to abide by state regulations to prevent any water supply issues. The 600-ft rule is a part of the rules and regulations applying to well permits to withdraw groundwater pursuant to section 37-90-137(4), C.R.S.

The project is using these adopted county plans to inform the project and design. The style of the animal shelter was inspired by the heritage of the County, as well as the immediate surroundings at the Regional Park. As recommended by the Riverdale Road Corridor Plan, the entrance access will be from 120th Pkwy., not Riverdale Road. The only access to Riverdale Road into the site will be for emergency vehicles only, and it will be restricted by a gate or similar means. Additionally, the South Platte River Heritage Plan recommends expansion of recreational opportunities in the area, especially at the Adams County Regional Park. This project will help serve a need for a public dog park, with a design that is compatible with the rural character of the area.

Careful planning was done to maintain and celebrate the existing agriculture on the site. Agricultural activities will continue to occur along Riverdale Road. The site plan for the shelter includes agricultural buffering on the lands adjacent to Riverdale Road. Approximately 45 acres of the property will remain in agricultural use. Beyond the shelter site at the Regional Park, the County has protected approximately 900 acres of open space land along the Riverdale Road/South Platte corridor through land acquisitions and conservation easements.

Although the primary entrance to the shelter will be off 120th Pkwy., a required emergency service road will be built from Riverdale Road into the shelter site. The service road is necessary for the safe operation of the facility during an emergency, and it is required by the International Fire Code. Some portions of the primary entrance road are within the 100-year floodplain. This will ensure access during a major flood or other emergency event. The service road will not be open to public use.

Although the primary entrance to the shelter will be off 120th Pkwy., a required emergency service road will be built from Riverdale Road into the shelter site. The service road is necessary for the safe operation of the facility during an emergency, and it is required by the International Fire Code. Some portions of the primary entrance road are within the 100-year floodplain. This will ensure access during a major flood or other emergency event. The service road will not be open to public use.

The shelter will aim to reduce operational cost and environmental impact by using highly efficient HVAC systems properly selected for the building use and climate.  LED lighting, advanced lighting controls, and extensive day lighting will limit energy usage.

New Shelter Impacts on Surrounding Residents

The new shelter is planned to open in mid 2019.

The infrastructure construction will begin in late 2017. The primary building construction is scheduled to begin in early 2018 and will last approximately 14 months.

Traffic impacts are expected to be minimal both during and after construction. The primary access for construction activities as well as shelter activities after opening will be 120th Pkwy. The county is currently completing a traffic study that will inform the design of the new entrance road and ensure all traffic impacts are managed. When the traffic study is completed, it will also be posted here.

  • View traffic study—coming soon!

Lighting selections will be “dark sky approved” by the International Dark-Sky Association. The lighting controls are being designed toward the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code.

The shelter will be designed to absorb and contain interior noise. Exterior yards associated with the shelter will be located on the eastern side of the building, which will reduce noise from traveling west towards residential areas. Informal sound studies were conducted at the new shelter site, and compared to newer animal shelters, as well as dog parks in the Denver Metro area.

The facility will be connected to public sewer through the Metro Wastewater system. Animal waste is removed on a weekly basis by a pet waste recycling vender. Dog park waste will also be collected and included in that process. Pet waste will not be disposed of anywhere on the park grounds. High standards for air treatment will also greatly minimize odor inside the building.

Yes. Modern crematories are smokeless, odorless, and designed to operate under strict environmental standards. The shelter’s new crematory will be completely contained within the building and will not be visible to the public.

Shelter volunteers will have designated areas for walking dogs. They will not be permitted to walk in planted fields, along Riverdale Road, near homes, farms or businesses. Volunteers are required to pick up after the dogs.

The shelter is being built in a field currently in agricultural use. Of this 60-acre field, 12-15 acres will be impacted by the construction of the shelter and the addition of the public dog park. However, new trees will be planted around the new shelter site and these, along with new retention ponds, will attract and provide habitat for wildlife. As part of the Regional Park Master Plan, gravel pits east of the shelter site will eventually be filled in as lakes, creating even more opportunities to attract and retain wildlife in this area.

Related to Regional Park and New Dog Park

The Shelter will be integrated into the master plan by:

  • Adhering to architectural design that maintains a rustic, agricultural character.
  • Serving as a community and recreational amenity that enhances quality of life for citizens.
  • Offering programs and trainings that benefit both parks, animals and citizens through collaboration and innovation.
  • Leveraging infrastructure expenditures to benefit the animal shelter and other park uses.
  • Allowing Adams County better flexibility and capability during a disaster or emergency that would require sheltering animals in close proximity to their owners.

During the shelter site location process, it was determined that the Regional Park would be the new location for the animal shelter. However, uses for the rest of this area of the Park will be determined by ongoing Regional Park Master Plan efforts. In other words, the projects are connected in terms of shared space, but still separate in terms of future planning for the Regional Park Master Plan.

Moving the entrance at 120th Pkwy provides better access and traffic management, as it was designed as a major parkway to carry more vehicles. Previous master planning efforts had already identified this as an opportunity to create a new front door to the Regional Park, while providing more efficient access.

No. Construction of a new indoor arena at the Regional Park will be considered independently from the animal shelter project. Adams County Parks and Open Space is currently working on a new master plan for the Regional Park and Fairgrounds. Part of the master planning process includes public input coupled with a market assessment to explore various options for renovating, repurposing existing facilities and/or construction of new facilities at the fairgrounds. This assessment will ultimately guide the design and construction of all future fairgrounds facilities.

The market assessment will also assist in selecting specific locations, facility attributes, and functions while building on the overall relationship with other facilitates and amenities within the park. It is extremely important to move forward thoughtfully in a methodical, non-biased, data-based approach to assure that the market will ultimately support the recommended facilities and park improvements. Once the market assessment it complete and the master plan is adopted, a specific implementation strategy will be used to phase in facilities in a thoughtful manner based on their specific attributes and merits.

Adams County staff will maintain the dog park areas within the Regional Park and Fairgrounds. Ongoing assistance will also be provided by animal shelter volunteers.

The Regional Park and Fairgrounds is open from sunrise to sunset. The new dog park will follow these same hours.

The dog park will be approximately one to two acres in size and will feature multiple sections for dogs of various sizes and energy levels. A shade structure, watering station, and seating are also planned within the design.

Community Outreach

Any new information, including new studies or updates, will be posted here.

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We welcome your questions and feedback. Please contact us at [email protected].