Orediggers paying it forward at the Foothills Animal Shelter

Mines students continue to be top-notch graduates not only because of their technical skills, but also because of their involvement and contributions to the local community. One of the newer organizations on campus, Orediggers Paying it Forward, offers students the ability to volunteer around the Golden area. Headed by Nick Antonicci, a resident life coordinator who began the program last year, Orediggers Paying it Forward strives to create opportunities for Mines students to become more active in the community. Because of successful volunteer events with over 30 students and faculty members last spring break, the program continues this fall. To kick off the year, volunteers headed to the Foothills Animal Shelter a few minutes outside of Golden.

The volunteer group, a mix of both students and faculty members, began their afternoon of work with an introduction from the Foothills Animal Shelter. The shelter, located at of 6th Avenue and Indiana, was built only two years ago. The building features a dog kennel, kitty condos, and a critter corner, as well as medical offices and holding facilities for lost pets. The shelter accepts any animal dropped off at their door. One volunteer member recalls the visit of a 200-pound pot-belly pig named Penelope and even an alligator. The staff keeps busy with approximately 10,000 animals coming in and out of the shelter each year. The paid staff of 41 people is aided by a volunteer staff of over 500. Volunteers that want to work on a more frequent schedule must go through training in order to assure proper care of the animals.

In addition to caring for and fostering pets, the shelter also offers discounted spay/neuter clinics, dog trainings and much more. With such dedicated employees and volunteers, the shelter proudly boasts an 85% adoption rate. The shelter’s goal is to do what is best for the animals. All dogs go through a behavioral analysis to help determine what home will suit them best. The staff works hard to find every animal a home or a nearby rescue.

After learning the history of the shelter, the group set to work. The staff remarked at how excited they were to have Mines students, as the shelter recently held their largest fundraising event at the CSM Green Center (the event was a success raising close to $90,000.) The group split up into groups tackling tasks throughout the building. One team readied a room for a spay/neuter clinic, one organized medical supplies in the sick ward, and one washed dishes and dog toys, among other activities. While none of the jobs were glamorous, they were vital for the shelter to operate smoothly. At the end of the afternoon, the group was rewarded with a trip to the puppy room where they played with two eight-week old puppies, Zach and Cody. Each group member received an appreciative nip and kiss from the small puppies, which had a home due to the efforts of volunteers such as the Mines group.

To learn more about volunteering at the animal shelter, visit their website at To join the “Orediggers Paying it Forward” team, watch for email notifications about opportunities coming up throughout the year.

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