Protesters gather at City Hall calling for Pueblo Animal Services euthanasia policies to be changed

PUEBLO, Colo. -- A couple dozen protesters gathered outside Pueblo City Hall ahead of city council's work session Monday, June 5, calling for Pueblo Animal Services euthanasia policies to be changed.

It all started with Charlie, a 5-year-old Border Collie-Greyhound mix who was transferred to Pueblo Animal Services from another facility. Charlie was up for adoption for 10 days before he was deemed aggressive, then euthanized.

Now some folks don't think every option was exhausted before Charlie was put down but Pueblo Animal Services, which is an entity of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, is defending their decision.

"Pueblo, I mean 'Home of the Heroes,' is now the leading shelter in Colorado for killing animals and these are healthy animals that can be re-homed," said concerned citizen, Suzanne Morgan.

More than 50 people showed up to the City Council work session where the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region, Jan McHugh-Smith, explained that in 2016 out of nearly 6,000 animals in care in Pueblo, more than 1,000 were euthanized for either behavior, illness, or injury.

McHugh-Smith said, "We're open to meeting with other people and talking to them about how we can try to find ways to save lives. I think Pueblo Animal Services is very progressive and we've proven ourselves to be able to improve the welfare of animals in Pueblo but there is always room to do more."

A video of Charlie's behavioral assessment on dog to dog reaction was played and according to McHugh-Smith, he showed aggression and could've been a danger to the community but those in opposition think all Charlie needed was rehabilitation, something Pueblo Animal Services does not offer but are hoping to in the future.

"Our ability to bring in a behavior person who can help us with some of the dogs that have fearful behavior and other types of behavior that can be rehabilitated, it's all around finding funding for that so if this is important to our community then we need to try fin donations and grants that will help support being able to bring that person on staff," said McHugh-Smith.

But for concerned citizens like Morgan, they think more than $1 million annually is more than enough.

"This is a contract and they're not performing on the contract." Morgan said. "They are squandering our taxpayer dollars. There is no reason whatsoever that one out of every five animals that goes into that shelter is killed. There is no reason."

The majority of City Council members backed Pueblo Animal Services but still asked some tough questions.

Citizen input was not allowed at the work session but people will get a chance to have their voices heard coming up on July 3.

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