PUEBLO, Colo. — After months of uncertainty, investigation and animals that were found to have died unnecessarily, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region again becomes the animal shelter provider for Pueblo’s city and county governments.
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” said Jan McHugh-Smith, the president and CEO of HSPPR.
HSPPR left management of the shelter on December 31, after both the city and county of Pueblo voted to not renew the contract and extend it to PAWS for Life animal shelter.
The city council and county commission made that decision following complaints from members in the community that included claims HSPPR was unduly labeling puppies as aggressive and euthanizing them because the shelter deemed them untrainable.
McHugh-Smith said this is a chance to set the record straight to the shelter’s care.
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there about our organization, and I hope people will come to the open house and see for themselves what we do and what we can provide,” she said.
The open house is scheduled for August 17 at the Pueblo Animal Services building at 4600 Eagleridge Place.
The contract is back after nearly three months of limited services under a temporary contract with HSPPR. The new one approved by Pueblo City Council and Pueblo County Commissioners this week is valid through 2022.
HSPPR agreed to the temporary contract after the shelter operators at the time, PAWS for Life Animal Shelter based out of Pueblo, surrendered their license following an investigation by the Colorado State Department of Agriculture found violations of sanitation and instances where animals had died.
“I think a lot of people may have taken for granted just how much the [HSPPR] has done for well over a decade,” said Garrison Ortiz, a Pueblo County Commissioner.
The city and county adopted a ban on anything but “no-kill” animal shelters in the county in spring 2018, leading to PAWS submitting a contract proposal and the county dropping HSPPR.
“When we decided to go a different way with the contract, there were a lot of questions about a lack of a business plan, a budget,” Ortiz said.
The combined vote for this week’s decision to return to HSPPR was 9-0.
HSPPR said its law enforcement services will become fully operational by July 1 and the shelter will be fully operational with all of its previous services by August 17.
“They’ve done a stellar job and we need to do a better job as a community of supporting them and what they do,” Ortiz said.