Animal advocates, PAS react to tighter shelter restrictions - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Animal advocates, PAS react to tighter shelter restrictions

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In a meeting lasting more than seven hours, City Council members voted to pass the Pueblo Animal Protection Act.

"It was very worth it.  the community of Pueblo has come together in such a way that has been remarkable," said Susan Pearson, who sat through the entirety of Monday night's meeting.

Pueblo Animal Services currently has the highest euthanasia rate in the state, but will now be required to have at least a 90% save rate.

Pearson is a member of Reform Pueblo Animal Services--a movement started by Dr. Kent Hill.

Last year, Hill took to Facebook after he tried to adopt a puppy at Pueblo Animal Services and was told the pit-mix was too aggressive and would be put down.

The video ended up going viral, and the puppy was eventually transferred to a different shelter.

Hill adopted her a short time later, naming her "Happy."

"This is why we did what we did so that dogs like this could have a great life," Hill said motioning toward Happy and his second dog, Bruno.

Like Happy, Bruno failed the animal behavioral assessment at PAS and was initially scheduled to be put down, before Hill intervened.

Hill says Bruno and Happy, who now work as therapy dogs, are living proof the assessment isn't always accurate, and believes updating that could bring positive change to the shelter's euthanasia rate.

"Obviously they were making mistakes and they were putting down dogs that were adoptable," he told News5.

"The one that they use now is very antiquated," said Pearson.

"There are so many new ways to do behavioral assessment," she added.

President of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, Jan McHugh-Smith, says it's not that simple.

"A 90% live release rate is arbitrary.  It's one indication of how an animal shelter is doing," she explained.

"You're not looking at the whole picture.  Different communities have different issues.  Animal welfare is tied to socio-economic status," she added.

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region recently received a $50,000 grant to hire a behavioral specialist, though they did not specify if the actual assessment will change at all.

The PAP Act goes into effect in 2019, which is also when when the city's contract with PAS expires.

News5 spoke with Ed Brown, who co-sponsored the act, and asked if any other animal organizations had shown interest in a contract, come 2019.

He said yes, but told us it was too early to go into any other specifics at this point.

The county released a short statement, saying they're "looking forward to continue working through this issue with the city and with the community in the near future."

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