Note: Story originally ran 4/29/05 Colorado Springs and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region are close to an agreement after a 1½-year battle over the city animal shelter.
The agreement, however, is not likely to get caged cats out of the back garage of the Abbott Lane building or create a front entrance for the city’s animal-control contractor. The dispute dates to January 2004, when the Englewood-based Colorado Humane Society took over animal-control duties that Pikes Peak Humane had handled for 53 years. The changes forced the competing groups to share a building funded by Pikes Peak Humane and the city. The Colorado Humane Society was forced to set up its reception desk and cat kennel area in a backside garage. Employees had to walk outside to get to bathrooms elsewhere in the building and keep courtheld vicious dogs in the same area as adoptable canines. City Manager Lorne Kramer wrote to Pikes Peak Humane leaders in November, threatening to sue if they did not give up more space in the building. Negotiations continued until Kramer felt comfortable letting a notice of default — a precursor for a lawsuit — expire this month. “We feel that we’ve made some progress in resolving the issues,” Kramer said. “I think both sides are negotiating in good faith, and that’s a key issue.” Because of negotiations, Pikes Peak Humane agreed to divide an area where it holds court-ordered dangerous animals and give half to the new contractor. Officials also will cut a hallway through that area to allow Colorado Humane workers access to bathrooms and a sink without walking outside, police fiscal services manager Tom Albertson said. Colorado Humane’s front entrance will remain in the garage, accompanied by a collection of cats. Stan Kouba, board president for Pikes Peak Humane, said the group does not feel it must give up more space. The city didn’t push for more, because carving a new entrance or dividing cat kennel space would cost too much, Kramer said. Negotiations will continue over other issues through June, he said. One reason the city did not want to spend a lot of money renovating the building is because it doesn’t know who will occupy it next year, Kramer said. Colorado Humane’s contract expires Dec. 31. Although Kramer has lauded Colorado Humane, City Council members have insisted they have a say in whether the group continues in its role. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0184 or firstname.lastname@example.org