Humane Society hoping to set the record straight

Filed under: Opinion |

The recent change in contract providers by the City of Colorado Springs has created tremendous confusion regarding animal control and sheltering in the entire area. We would like to bring our friends and supporters up to date on what exactly is happening.

The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region (HSPPR) has been serving our community since 1949. In 2003, HSPPR returned more lost pets to their owners than any other agency in Colorado and was second in the state for the number of pets adopted into loving homes. Our mission and vision has always been to improve the lives of the animals and educate citizens in respecting the role animals play in society and their responsibilities as pet owners.

The recent change in animal control providers by the City of Colorado Springs has not diminished our commitment to the citizens and pets of Colorado Springs. The role we play will change somewhat as we place more emphasis on our “humane programs” that are not a part of animal control contracts.

An example of this is our Humane Education Program where last year we had 329 opportunities to speak with over 11,000 children and adults with an additional 7,600 children reached in their classrooms through our KIND News publication.

There has been a lot of press since the first of the year surrounding the changes that have taken place, and the Gazette in its April 25th edition would have you believe that chaos reigns and the animals are suffering for it.

Speaking for HSPPR, I can only say that the animals in our portion of the shelter are receiving the same excellent care as in the past. In fact, caring for fewer animals has enabled us to give more attention to individual animals and we have ZERO euthanasia of adoptable animals so far in 2004.

The Gazette article would also have you believe that HSPPR’s conduct toward the City’s program was less than stellar. We have no knowledge of our staff behaving in an unprofessional manner and our request to the City for any evidence supporting these allegations has yielded no response. It would appear that neither the City nor the Gazette made any effort to substantiate their claims before passing them on to City Council and the public.

The biggest issue seems to be the use of space by the City in the HSPPR building. Again, the press would lead you to believe that our organization has unilaterally allocated less desirable space to the City. In fact, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region presented a plan whereby much of the building would be shared. The City rejected that idea and presented a plan where space for each entity would be totally separate from the other and further elucidated the space they wanted to occupy for their program. While it was not what we had envisioned, we could see how it might work and we accepted their plan. It left the main entrance for HSPPR and created a new entrance on the northwest corner of the building for the City.

The manner in which animals are housed in the City’s portion has raised some concern among state officials and others. This is something HSPPR has no control over since there is no direct contractual relationship between us and the City’s new animal control provider. We have, on numerous occasions, offered to take some of the animals from the City when we had extra room, but have been rebuffed at each offer.

What the press hasn’t bothered to tell you is that committees have been formed between the City and HSPPR to work through issues and develop materials that help citizens understand the different roles each organization plays.

HSPPR continues to be the main source of information for most citizens, fielding hundreds of calls each day, many of which are forwarded to the City’s new provider. We are doing our utmost to be cooperative and ensure the best possible outcome for all the animals.

For our part, we are looking forward to continue providing high quality service to our remaining animal control contracts and to improving our humane programs that serve all citizens and pets. Your meaningful support is much appreciated, and we hope you will continue to find merit in our progranIs and services.

If you have any questions please feel free to call me directly at (719) 473-1741 x124.

Gratefully yours,

Wesley V. Metzler

Executive Director