30 minutes from Pueblo, shelter posts 98 percent animal save rat - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

30 minutes from Pueblo, shelter posts 98 percent animal save rate

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After Pueblo City Council passed an act to increase the animal save rate this week, there's been a lot of talk about no-kill shelters.

In southern Colorado, News 5 found there is already a shelter following a similar model in a neighboring city and they say, they're seeing great results.

Although the Humane Society of Fremont County is four times smaller than Pueblo Animal Services, they're saving nearly 100 percent of the animals just thirty minutes away from Pueblo and believe it's possible for any shelter in the country.

"There's nothing wrong with saving more lives," Doug Rae, Humane Society of Fremont County Executive Director said.

When Rae took over the Humane Society of Fremont County, their save rate was about 63 percent.

"We actually stopped the killing in the shelter right away," he said.

And in three and a half years, he's raised that number up to 98 percent without a city mandate.

"We see some really, really bad animals in here, animals that act very aggressive, animals that are very hurt, very injured and we've been able to save them all," he said.

He was one of dozens advocating for the Pueblo Animal Protection Act to city council members on Monday night, requiring a 90 percent save rate.

"And it goes through steps on what you need to do before euthanizing animals," he said.

While Fremont County took in 1600 animals last year, Pueblo County took in nearly 6400 animals.

"A 90 percent live release rate is arbitrary, it's one indication of how an animal shelter is doing, you're not looking at the whole picture," Jan McHugh-Smith, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region which manages Pueblo Animal Services said.

McHugh-Smith says these save rates are tied to socioeconomic status and they've worked hard to improve them.

"In Pueblo, we've had a longer haul of it, being able to work with the city and county to get the proper funding in order to be able to make the leaps that we've been able to make and we're very proud of having a live release rate of 82 percent," she said.

But Rae says more can be done.

"Less than one quarter of one percent of the animals that come into this building are true aggressive animals, the rest are just scared, which means they need time," he said.

And they have living proof.

"If you treat every animal as an individual and look at that animal as if it were the only animal in the animal shelter, you're going to save all the animals that you possibly can," he said.

Rae says rescue groups are also a huge resource his shelter which receives 81 percent of their budget through private donations.

By the way, the protection act isn't a mandate for his shelter but he's trying to work with his elected leaders to make it official in Fremont County too.

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