PUEBLO – News5 has obtained the inspection reports detailing infractions and unsanitary conditions inside the Community Animal Services of Pueblo facility.
A number of significant developments have happened over the last 24 hours in regard to the situation at the shelter. They include:
- CASP Interim Executive Director Lisa Buccambuso stepping down 2 days after accepting the job
- Pueblo City Council President Dennis Flores saying the state has taken over operations at CASP
- PAWS For Life forfeiting its license to operate the shelter
Our team is currently combing through the inspection documents from the Colorado Department of Agriculture compiled following three different inspections of the facility during March.
Significant delays for animals receiving care
On a Pet Animal Care Facilities Act inspection form, inspectors said observed cases where multiple animals did not receive care in an adequate timeframe.
Inspectors said a cat named River was brought in by a person who said the animal had not been fed for a month when it was brought in on Feb. 16. According to the inspection form, records showed the cat didn’t see the vet until Feb. 25. where it was severely dehydrated and died on the table.
Another dog was brought in when the owner couldn’t pay for treatment of a broken pelvis. According to the documents, the animal was not seen by the vet for four days and was still not given the vet-recommended meds. Inspectors said the dog was found more than a month later lying on the surgery room floor “listless and unable to stand.”
Another case showed a dog named Luna was brought in on Jan. 12 because it had been possibly hit by a car. According to the state, records showed a vet didn’t see Luna until Jan. 24.
A cat brought into the facility as a starvation case reportedly had “not been fed in a month” by the owner. Records from the veterinarian show the cat was not seen by the doctor for 9 days after arrival, was severely dehydrated, and “died on the surgery table.”
There were similar reports listed for various urgent medical conditions for at least five other animals.
Conditions in the surgery room
Once in the surgery room, investigators found “all rooms in need of cleaning and sanitization”. Surgery table had hair from “multiple animals.”
Inspectors said a paralyzed Chihuahua had “free roam” of main surgery room and had urinated all over the floor. Other animals also were roaming the surgery room and were observed vomiting during the inspection.
According to the documents, the exam room was also in a similar condition. A back room was full of puppies with diarrhea and the floor had fecal matter “throughout the room, making it difficult to enter and access other animals without stepping in it.” There was fecal matter on the puppies themselves as well as their bedding/blankets.
Investigators were initially denied access to important records
Documents show the shelter initially refused to provide the euthanasia log, medication log and access to the area around the surgery room to investigators.
In addition to that, inspectors said they found the facility was not documenting treatment records as required. The documents detail numerous cases where there were gaps in recorded treatment as well as record-keeping mistakes when it came to spaying and neutering status and adoption information.
Dog taken from quarantine almost bites customer service representative in the face
Inspectors said a staff member walked a dog that had been impounded for biting a child through a customer service area, where it almost bit a customer service representative in the face.
According to the documents, records showed the dog was not current on rabies vaccinations.
Inspectors said the staff member removed the dog from isolation and chose to take it on a walk for “socialization.”
Improper housing of animals
An inspection on March 6 found healthy animals were sharing the same space with animals being treated for illnesses or were visibly ill.
Inspectors also found a 22-week-old Terrier puppy was being housed in a kennel with two other adult dogs that were not related to the puppy.
The documents also found that a female and male cat were being housed together, without either of the animals being spayed or neutered. Inspectors observed the cats appeared to be 6 months old.
Expired or improper medications
Multiple medications were found to be expired, some from as far back as 2006. Other medications were specifically made for horses and cattle, which are not housed at the facility.
Inspectors said they also found some labels on the medications had faded away and some medications were not labeled at all.
City Council President Dennis Flores tells News5 the Colorado Department of Agriculture has taken over operations at the Community Animal Shelter in Pueblo amid an investigation.
PAWS for Life announced later Wednesday morning it was forfeiting its license to operate the shelter. Animals from the shelter are being distributed to other facilities, including some in Denver.
In a statement from PAWS for Life, it said failed inspections and difficulties replacing the staff veterinarian led to the decision to pull out of the contract.
A portion of the statement from PAWS for Life read:
There were significant hurdles in fulfilling the mission to be a no-kill, full-access public shelter to save lives that otherwise might have been lost under prior management.
It also said the organization violated a clause in its contract which prevented the shelter from contracting out services to another entity without permission.
The shelter had brought in the Fremont County Humane Society to help care for the animals for a period of time, but that arrangement was scrapped.
Flores said he’s seen the report from the Department of Agriculture investigation which he states has “a lot of infractions.”
County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz cited the state’s report during a special meeting Tuesday morning when he said a total of 14 animals died while in the care of the shelter, and one animal that was hit by a car didn’t receive care for five days.
The woman named Interim Executive Director of Community Animal Services announced this morning she’s withdrawn her acceptance of the position.
In a news release, Lisa Buccambuso statement read: “It became immediately clear that conditions of the shelter were much worse than any one organization could address.”
Buccambuso is also the executive director of the Southern Colorado Spay and Neuter Association. CASP announced Buccambuso’s hiring Monday afternoon.
County Commissioners will meet at 2:30 p.m. in executive session with the County Attorney to discuss the next steps, including the options of revoking the contract awarded to the organization late last year.
In a note at the bottom of the agenda “No adoption of any proposed policy, position resolution, rule, regulation or formal action shall occur” at the meeting.