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Pueblo Co. Commissioners discuss allegations against Community Animal Services

Posted at 10:10 AM, Mar 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-26 14:59:41-04
Pueblo County Commissioners meeting
Pueblo County Commissioners hear from staff at Community Animal Services about an ongoing investigation. (KOAA)

PUEBLO – Pueblo County Commissioners and members of the Pueblo City Council heard from Community Animal Services of Pueblo Tuesday morning about what’s being done at the facility amid an investigation by the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

It was standing room only at the event.

The Pueblo County Attorney told representatives from the shelter to “get your cards on the table, because if you don’t there may not be a chance to save you.”

Board President Ruth McDonald started her comments by stating, “many of the violations in the report are serious and are cause for action.” She added the charges are the reason the veterinarian was fired and the manager of the facility was suspended.   McDonald says the facility is now working with eight local veterinarians.

PAWS for Life board member Kim Alfonso says among the violations are accusations of falsifying records, which she cites as the root cause of the veterinarian’s firing.  “We have nothing to hide,” she told County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz when asked if the organization will be more forthcoming about issues.

“The things that I’ve seen in reports are just egregious, they are inhumane and they are unacceptable,” stated Ortiz. At this time, he’s ready to pull the contract for the shelter just agreed to late last year.

He cited information about 14 animals dying at the facility in just two months under the new contract. He says “animals are suffering” and the situation os “unacceptable.  Ortiz says one report concerns an animal that was hit by a car but was not treated at the facility for five days.

In response, McDonald says four new employees are already undergoing training today.  An effort is underway to find a permanent Executive Director.  “We realize that we have not done the job that we have promised you, it’s not for lack of trying. We’re still trying.” McDonald tells commissioners.

Commissioner Chris Wiseman told McDonald he sees the pain in her eyes, but the facility needs to do what’s best for public policy.

Ortiz said no decision about the shelter’s future will be made at Tuesday’s meeting. News5 is working to obtain a copy of the report discussed at Tuesday morning’s meeting.

It’s unknown at this time when the next meeting about the shelter will happen.


Community Animal Services of Pueblo is making some major changes, after announcing its interim Executive Director as Lisa Buccambuso Monday afternoon.

Buccambuso is the Executive Director of the Southern Colorado Spay and Neuter Association and will continue her work with the association during the interim role.

‘Mostly I just feel that I’m ready to dive in and see what chores we need to tackle first,’ said Buccambuso, who added her first order of business will be to check in on all of the animals currently at the shelter.

Community Animal Services of Pueblo
Community Animal Services of Pueblo

The announcement of Buccambuso as the acting leader came just one day before shelter leaders will go in front of Pueblo County Commissioners to discuss what lies ahead.

Among some of the items that still need to get done, finding and hiring a veterinarian for the shelter.

‘We are constantly searching, we have feelers out to every website, agency we can,’ said PAWS for Life Board President Ruth McDonald.

In the meantime, the shelter is working with various community partners to full the need for a veterinarian.

Hours before the announcement of the interim Executive Director, the Humane Society of Fremont County learned their help was no longer needed.

The humane society worked long hours for the last week in hopes of helping the shelter overcome some of its challenges.

Challenges, the Humane Society of Fremont County is all too familiar with- after the shelter went through its own investigation about five years ago.

‘It’s an absolute freaking mess, unbelievable, I cannot even believe where we are right now,’ said Doug Rae, Director of the Humane Society of Fremont County.

Rae says he and members of his staff made the trip to Pueblo, working many hours to try and help get the shelter back on track.

‘It’s important to me that I get in there and help anyway I could, just for the animals, and for the people in Pueblo,’ said Rae.

His shelter manager, Kelly Ramos was putting in additional hours and leading the shelter’s operations.

Friday night, Rae made a post to the shelter’s Facebook page explaining the role they had taken, which received mostly positive feedback.

McDonald says the Facebook post was a factor in parting ways with the Humane Society of Fremont County, but that there were many factors involved in their decision.

Something, Rae disagrees with.

‘This has nothing to do with the post and everything to do with the politics on the board,’ said Rae.