Dr. Steve Smolen is a busy man. Between running his practice at the Animal Hospital of Telluride and cofounding the Telluride Humane Society a couple years ago, the Pittsburgh native is seemingly constantly caring for area pets and those in need of adoption, which he’s said is always a labor a love.
But while attending veterinarian conferences across the country, he realized pet food and products weren’t necessarily as advantageous or healthy as they were being marketed. In an effort to provide safe, nutritious pet products to his clients, he decided to open Pet Telluride on Pacific Avenue in 2018.
The business has been a success since, and Smolen upgraded his storefront space from 800 square feet to 1,200 square feet after a recent move to 238 East Colorado Ave.
“I feel blessed that we got that space because it’s amazing,” he said.
He added he doesn’t sell grain-free foods as they can cause serious health conditions, including heart problems. His mission is to provide only veterinarian-recommended food and products, and he’s always willing to answer any questions customers may have.
“You go in there and everything in there should be safe and recommended by a veterinarian,” Smolen.
The bigger store space will also serve as the humane society’s headquarters, particularly as a pick-up and drop-off location for donations and supplies, as well as a place to host events.
Ellen Williamson, who also cofounded the local humane society, said adoptions have been up over the past year, as she continues to rescue puppies and kittens from the Southern Ute Reservation.
“We feel so fortunate to currently have quite an increase of both financial and physical donations, such as crates, pet beds and food, which are so appreciated. People have choices when it comes to donations and we are always so grateful when they think of us,” she said. “They one thing that we can express with certainty is that this community came out in spades consistently this entire year when we put out the call for pets in need of foster homes and forever homes. We could have never imagined the amount of homes that opened up to new pets this year from our efforts. It was a partnership with locals and second homeowners alike, and we could not have achieved what was achieved this year without the substantial support of Telluride and its surrounding communities.”
Smolen echoed that sentiment in explaining the humane society has adopted up to 60 pets over the past year. His hospital provides medical care to all humane society pets.
“We’ve really done a lot of ground and field work,” he said.
Williamson explained several pups and kitten that was born with two backwards legs were most recently rescued from the Ute reservation. The humane society will focus on how best to care for the new animals, including consulting Colorado State University for the best way to care for the kitten, which has been dubbed Superman and found a forever home.
“One medical initiative is to fund surgical care for a kitten that was born on the Ute Reservation in southwest Colorado two months ago with both of his back legs backwards. He came into our care at Halloween and the Animal Hospital of Telluride named him Superman,” she explained. “Last week, we arranged a consultation for Superman at Colorado State University's renowned school of veterinary medicine, and we will fully fund his care to improve his back legs for better quality of life through a surgical procedure in the next two months. Due to our 100 percent support of Superman's surgical procedure, we secured a forever home for him two days after his consultation and he is now adopted.”
The humane society will partner with Rez Roads, which is a couple that builds doghouses on the Navajo reservation, in creating a campaign Dec. 1-31. The humane society will donate 10 shelters at $50 each, and those interested in participating can find more information on the humane society website at telluridehumanesociety.org under the “Gimme Shelter” tab. Williamson added that for $60 people can have a shelter dedicated in memoriam of a pet that has passed.
“It's difficult to think of how many dogs are on the reservations that have no shelter and need it desperately. We are committed to donating 10 dog houses this Christmas, however, we would love to donate twice or triple that number should the community be inspired to do so,” she said.
Smolen and Williamson both thank everyone involved with the animal hospital, store and humane society, including staff and foster volunteers.
“We couldn’t do this all without them,” Smolen said.
Smolen also explained with winter approaching it’s important to protect your dogs from colder temperatures and frostbite, especially smaller breeds. Keep an eye out for you dogs, too, if you’re heading out skiing or snowboarding.
“The other thing we start to see once people start skiing is lacerations from ski and snowboard edges. That lets us know that winter is here when we start seeing those injuries,” Smolen said.
Trimming your dogs nails will also prevent injuries and trauma caused by ice this winter.
“I want people to know about this stuff and it cuts down on our caseload. It is all about prevention. That’s a goal of the pet store as well,” Smolen said.
For more information about Pet Telluride, visit pet-telluride.business.site.