Pueblo negotiating new contracts for animal shelter, animal control

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - On Thursday, Pueblo County Commissioners approved opening contract negotiations with PAWS For Life Animal Welfare & Protection Society.

"It's a tough conclusion," Commissioner Terry Hart said. "I have to tell you, I feel like I am trying to make a decision with my two best friends."

It's a devastating decision for the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, who ran the shelter for nearly 20 years. The City of Pueblo approved PAWS' bid on Monday. 

"We've served this community for the past 16 years," Jan McHugh-Smith, President/CEO of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region, said. "We really care about the people and the animals."

The move was a recommendation made by an evaluation committee who looked at bids made from three contenders. PAWS' proposal won, with PAWS saying it can run the shelter and animal control for $1.7 million compared HSPPR's $2.2 million.

Hart said PAWS can handle the job, but questions still remain on the bid price.

"It's a significant cost difference between the two," Hart said. "We believe we have some of the answers on some of the questions and we're going to get into that deeper and make sure we are not making any mistakes and this contract is able to perform at the financial level it has bid."

Earlier this year, HSPPR was feeling the heat, with many saying the shelter wasn't doing enough to prevent animals from being euthanized.

In February, the City of Pueblo approved the Pueblo Animal Protection Act, requiring the shelter to maintain a 90 percent save-rate. At the time, the shelter had an 80 percent rate.

"As animal law enforcement and as the community shelter, we have to make the decision that is best for the community, the safety of the community, as well as for the animal--the health and well-being of that animal," Smith said.

The contract is not set in stone. County commissioners promise they will use the next couple of days to work out the terms.

"If they look at our numbers and budget that we have used in the past few years and that fact we are a nonprofit and run on donations and grants, this is going to be an easy run," PAWS for Life director Linda Mitchell said. 

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