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Pueblo County Commissioners vote 3-0 in favor of PAWS contract for animal shelter

Posted at 2:46 PM, Dec 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-06 19:53:00-05

PUEBLO – County Commissioners met this afternoon in a special hearing to discuss and decide the fate of the Pueblo Animal Shelter.

City Council has already given their approval for PAWS for Life to take over the shelter from The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region for the next 3 years. Now County Commissioners have done the same to switch management.

It wasn’t a vote that passed without some dissent. Commissioner Ortiz voiced concerns about the budget details which still need to be sorted out with PAWS. Commissioner Pace said he felt “handcuffed” by the city’s decision to move forward first, rather than working with the county on an agreement.  Commissioner Hart was concerned about the costs to go through the changeover in management, and still supported current management. Yet, he voted in favor of changing over to PAWS.

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region contract expires at the end of this year. If County Commissioners had rejected the bid by PAWS for Life to run the operation at their existing location, the commissioners would have been forced to come up with a new plan on their own.

As the county and city work with PAWS to move over the operation to their facility there are still questions to be answered concerning a budget, who will be used for animal control enforcement, and how long it will take for PAWS to be ready.

News5 will keep you updated.

The PAWS for Life proposal comes with a $1.7 million price tag. They’ve served the community as a private operation for 40 years.

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region said they could handle the job for a price between $2 and $2.2 million. The organization manages facilities in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

The Pueblo Animal Shelter is no stranger to controversy with euthanasia rates being one of the biggest factors.

A hot topic in the session is that euthanasia rate in comparison to animals adopted out. Supporters of the current contract argue they have improved over the years. One opponent questioned why Pueblo Animal Services asks for more money to operate every year.

CEO Julie Justman told commissioners today that when her organization took over the shelter in 2002 the live release rate was around 40 percent. By 2017, that rate was up to 82 percent. Speaking about all the public attention to the matter now she stated, “It would’ve been nice to have this help back then.”

“Pueblo Animal Services is saving more animals than ever before,” Justman told News5 this week. “We save 8 out of every 10 animals that comes to us.”

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