UPDATE: The next Mayor of Divide is a search-and-rescue bloodhound named Pa Kettle, announced the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter Wednesday morning.
Pa Kettle won the heated Divide race with 2,387 votes, according to Nancy Adams, funding coordinator for the shelter. Pa pawed past Kenyi the wolf by only 55 votes.
Kenyi is the vice-mayor and Buster the cat, who placed third with 1,790 votes, is the viceroy. The inauguration is April 19.
Editor's Note: Bias alert, reporter Garrison Wells is a dog person.
It's a three-way tie in the four-legged race for Mayor of Divide.
It's so tight that a last-minute push for votes could make the difference, says Nancy Adams, funding coordinator for the Teller County Regional Animal Shelter.
Adams said the final results won't be released until 7 a.m. Wednesday.
But on Tuesday, it was an all-out final dash among Buster the cat, Pa Kettle the bloodhound and Keyni the wolf.
"It's neck and neck and neck right now," Adams said.
The animals are vying for the unofficial title in a race to raise funds for the shelter, and each vote brings in $1. The winner will succeed Walter the three-legged cat.
Earlier in the race, Buster had scratched his way into the lead.
But Pa Kettle and Keyni are no pikers and have pawed their way back.
It has come down to a race between cat lovers, dog lovers and, er, wolf lovers.
Although Adams is an election official, she openly admits to pulling for Buster the cat.
"I'm hoping the cat wins because our current mayor is a cat and I'd like to see that trend continue," Adams said.
Adams, however, has a bias. She is a cat aficionado. She referred to herself as "the crazy cat lady."
"Absolutely," she said, "and then some."
El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams suggested Adams should recruit a dog lover to help with the process to keep the election from being tainted.
"I think you want a dog lover with you," he said. "That's what we do. We have a Republican and a Democrat pick up the ballot boxes together."
"You want to have another of the fine species running for mayor with you," he said. "There are procedures in place to make sure to protect the integrity of the elections process."
Williams fessed up to his own inclination. "Between the two, my favorite are cats," he said.
Adams said she expected strong last-minute lobbying by Pa Kettles' mom, Janet Bennett.
"She is the most competitive person I've ever met in my life," Adams said. "She works at the vet's office so she can talk to everyone coming in the door."
Bennett, contacted Tuesday, denied such dastardly tactics.
However, she isn't shying away from other, less questionable efforts to get her doggie to the top political post.
"I'm sending out a lot of Facebook posts and emails," Bennett said from the Woodland Veterinary Clinic, where she was supposed to be working on Tuesday.
"Not only does Pa want to win, he should win," she said. "But it's for a really good cause and we want to raise the most we can raise for TCRAS."
Initially there were 11 animals in the running when voting started February 15.
But by last Thursday, Buster had garnered 1,656 votes and was 300 ahead of Pa Kettle.
Bennett shamelessly cited Pa's strengths.
"He is the only candidate that has a real job," she said. "And he is the only candidate that has a last name and a verifiable birth certificate, which I don't think the others do ... and it's important. He's running as an independent."
Pa's job is a search-and-rescue bloodhound, Bennett said.
"We're pretty confident that he will win in the last hours," Bennett said. "We're going to win the mayor's race first, and next be in the Guinness World Records for the longest dog ears."