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

When will the hole being dug south of the Animal Shelter be completed? The daily truck traffic and dust created is a nuisance so why aren’t the newly constructed and paved access roads connecting 120th Ave. and Henderson Rd. used instead

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.

There have been minimal efforts to reduce dust with water sprayers. Will this change?

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.

There have been minimal efforts to reduce dust with water sprayers. Will this change?

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.

What natural screens, such as trees, will be implemented on the west side of the shelter to block the view of the bright red roof? Why wasn’t a more neutral color for the roof used to blend into the surroundings?

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.

Regarding the soil removal near the Animal Shelter, I believe the county website spoke to these temporary access roads being paved, but that doesn’t seem to be the case?

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.


If the soil removal is to continue throughout the summer, I hope the contractor is notified and has a resolution for the endless dust. Within the RFP did the statement of work speak to specific dust mitigation efforts?

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.

I have witnessed people dumping trash and trees by entering the grounds as the road access remains open to traffic. Can you install a temporary gate to prevent this when the field is not being accessed by trucks?

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.

Would Adams County be open to a donation of appropriate trees to assist with creating a screen?

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.

Will the Mann Lakes allow access to water sports like sailboarding, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, and fishing?

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

Has the new animal shelter project (and its new location) already been determined?

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.

Why have public meetings been held if the animal shelter project and location have already been determined?

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.

When were the public meetings held?

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.

What will the new shelter cost?

The total project cost is approximately $27.5 million.

How is the new shelter being funded?

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

When will the new shelter open?

The new shelter is planned to open in mid 2019.

Who is the new shelter architect firm?

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?

Why is there a need for a new animal 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.

Why not renovate the existing facility?

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.

What types of new services, amenities and features will be at the new 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.

How many square feet is the current shelter? How many square feet will the new shelter be?

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

The new animal shelter will not be much larger than existing one. Doesn’t it need to be bigger to respond to the growing population of Adams County?

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

When is the shelter open to the public?

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.

What services does the shelter provide?

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.

What municipalities does the shelter serve?

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.

How many animals come into the shelter each year?

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

What types of animals come into the shelter?

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

Where will the new shelter be located?

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.

What is the zoning of the property?

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.

Is the new shelter location within a floodplain?

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.

What criteria were used to select the new shelter location?

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:

Why is the new location a good place for the animal shelter?

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.

Why didn’t the county consider building the new animal shelter on the northeast part of the Regional Park?

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.

What water and sewer systems will be in place for the new 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.

How will the new shelter address the recommendations within the Riverdale Road Corridor Plan and the South Platte River Heritage Plan?

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.

What steps are being taken to ensure the rural and agricultural nature of this area is maintained?

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.

Why is a service road being connected to Riverdale Road?

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.

How will traffic be managed on the new service road?

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.

What sustainability measures will be implemented into the new shelter facility and operations?

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.

Is there a conservation easement on the property in relation to the location of the animal shelter?

Parcel # 0157134006004 (Address 9600 Henderson Road) includes a total of 384.933 acres. This parcel does not have a conservation easement on the property (see attached maps below this answer). There are several reasons that this property didn’t have a conservation easement placed on it:

New Shelter Impacts on Surrounding Residents

When is the new shelter expected to open?

The new shelter is planned to open in mid 2019.

When will construction start, what is the timeline?

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.

What will be the impact be on traffic in this area be during construction and after the shelter opens?

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!

What will be done to minimize the disruption from shelter lights at night?

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.

What will be done to minimize noise?

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.

What will be done to minimize smells and handle waste?

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.

Will the new shelter have a crematory?

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.

Where will shelter volunteers be able to walk dogs at the new site?

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.

What wildlife will be impacted by the construction?

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

How will the new shelter relate to the Regional Park Master Plan?

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.

How did the shelter become part of the Regional Park Master Plan?

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.

Why is the new main entrance to the Regional Park being moved to 120th Pkwy.?

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.

Does getting a new animal shelter mean a new indoor arena will not be built?

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.

Who will maintain the public dog park?

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.

What hours will the dog park be open to the public?

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

What amenities or features will be at the dog park?

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

How can I stay informed about the new animal shelter project?

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

How can I get involved as a shelter volunteer?

Volunteers play a vital part in helping us to save animals and serve the community. Learn more about volunteering.

Who can I contact with more questions?

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