Dec 27, 2012 6:12 PM by David Ortiviz

Pueblo signs temporary deal for dog catchers

Pueblo may have to find new dog catchers in the coming year. The city has stalled signing a long term contract with the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak region, which has operated the animal shelters in Pueblo and Colorado Springs for years. There was a temporary compromise this week, but the future remains uncertain.

For the past decade, Pueblo has contracted with the Pikes Peak Humane Society to round up stray dogs and cats. The shelter runs under the name of Pueblo Animal Services.

This year Pueblo City Council cut the humane society's funding by 10%. The humane society barked back by asking for more money or no deal on a new contract.

"We really want to stay in Pueblo, but unfortunately we've had to subsidize these contracts substantially over the years," said Jan McHugh-Smith, President of the Pikes Peak Humane Society.

Now city council may be having second thoughts. "I believe the conversation has shifted, that we see it more as a core city service," said Ami Nawrocki, Pueblo City Councilwoman for District 1.

History may be a strong influence. In 2003 Colorado Springs hired a Denver agency to run its shelter, forcing the Pikes Peak Humane Society, which still caught animals for the county, to share tight quarters in one building. 18-months later the city re-hired the local dog catchers.

Nawrocki says Pueblo's been down that same path, with bad results. "And we didn't do so well with that. I think Pueblo Animal Services certainly provides professional services," said Nawrocki.

With just days before this contract was set to expire, Pueblo City Council signed a three month extension. "The people here on the northside overwhelmingly have positive feedback on Pueblo Animal Services and support," said Nawrocki.

Meanwhile the humane society, which handles 8,000 animals a year, remains optimistic. "We've done a great job over the last decade, but there's so much more to do, pet over population in Pueblo is rampant," said McHugh-Smith.

The humane society will receive $80,000 a month from the city and county to operate the shelter in Pueblo through march.



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