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PAWS For Life to take over Pueblo’s animal shelter, city council approves

Posted at 10:36 PM, Dec 03, 2018

PUEBLO – A new organization will be operating the City of Pueblo’s animal shelter for the next three years.

On Monday night the city council approved PAWS For Life to take over the animal shelter and animal control from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region whose contract expires at the end of this year.

The vote to award the contract was a tight one. Chris Nicoll, Mark Aliff, Ray Aguilera, and Ed Brown voted to approve. Voting against was Bob Schilling, Dennis Flores, and Larry Atencio.  The 4-3 vote was a huge win for PAWS For Life, but the end of an era for Pueblo Animal Services.

Julie Justman, director of Pueblo Animal Services, said, “We’re devastated that another entity has been chosen to move forward with the animal control and sheltering contract…Pueblo Animal Services has served 16 years compassionately and dedicated to the people and the animals of this community in protecting the health and safety of the people and animals of the community.”

The shelter has been a point of contention for awhile with euthanasia rates being one of the biggest factors.

Justman said, “Pueblo Animal Services is saving more animals than ever before. We save 8 out of every 10 animals that comes to us.”

PAWS For Life operates differently.

Director Linda Mitchell said, “We believe we can make a difference. Lately some of the euthanasias that have been brought to our attention are unnecessary and we want to see that stopped.”

With the city council approving their bid to take over the city’s animal services and animal control, there’s a lot of work to be done before the end of the year.

Mitchell said, “We have a phenomenal staff already in place at the PAWS building and we are really hoping that a lot of the Pueblo Animal Services people will carry over.”

While the organization has the support of city council, Pueblo County commissioners could go in a different direction.

Mitchell said, “Whether they vote “yes” or “no” we are in as the city’s shelter managers so we’re going in no matter what.”

If Pueblo County commissioners vote Thursday to reject the PAWS For Life bid they would have to come up with a new plan on their own.

Justman said Pueblo Animal Services will continue to operate through the end of the year. After that it will provide private services to serve the community in other ways.