Allegations of Neglect at CO Shelter

PAWS Pueblo is “a non-profit 501 (c)(3), privately funded animal shelter that does not euthanize healthy animals”, per their website.  The shelter also describes itself as having “a 30-year history of humane dog care”.  Earlier this month, I received a thoroughly documented packet of information from Tonya Barker who was a member of the board from 2007 until she resigned this month.  She alleges a pattern of neglect at the shelter and provides a large number of examples.  I’m going to touch upon several of them here.  In addition, I reached out to the shelter for comment and spoke with two of their executive board members – Marilyn Thompson and Chris Comins.  Ms. Comins is the shelter manager.  I will be including responses from them regarding the allegations throughout the post.

Ms. Barker posted pets on Petfinder for the shelter which hadn’t been done previously.  When she started, she states she “was given a list of dogs with 32 names on it.  Almost all dogs were long term – 14 years, 10 years, 8 years etc.”  Ms. Barker reportedly had great success in adopting out these dogs.

Ms. Thompson says the current shelter population is 32-40 dogs including 3 dogs who have been there for over one year.  They are not currently admitting dogs.  When I asked how many dogs had been there over 6 months, Ms. Thompson was unable to answer and explained that the shelter does not have computerized records.  The shelter’s annual budget is $110,000.

Ms. Barker describes the PAWS shelter as consisting “primarily of outdoor runs with gravel”.  She also states there are some indoor runs and some with indoor-outdoor access.  The kennels flood when it rains.  I asked Ms. Thompson if the shelter description was accurate and she said it was and that they were looking forward to building a new shelter.  When I asked her specifically about dogs being kept in flooded kennels she replied with a question of her own:  “Does it rain in South Carolina?”

A dog living in a flooded run at PAWS Pueblo.

There are some of the cases Ms. Barker has documented:

Boris lived in an outdoor gravel run at PAWS for 9 years.  He was visibly disfigured due to an autoimmune skin disorder documented in a veterinary report as Pemphigus erythematosis/Discoid lupus erythematosis.  The veterinary document, dated 2-10-09, indicates Boris was prescribed medications and contains the following instruction:  “Keep out of direct sunlight as much as possible.”  Ms. Barker states Boris’s outdoor run only got shade for a few hours in the afternoon if the dog stood next to the wall.  Otherwise, the dog was in the sun during daylight hours.  The disease spread and Boris was euthanized in June 2009 without seeing the vet again.  Ms. Thompson did not remember this dog.  She did state however that if a vet had directed the shelter to keep a dog out of the sun, they would have complied.

Boris, standing in the sun at PAWS Pueblo.
Boris, at PAWS Pueblo

Shadow came to PAWS at the age of 4 months and lived there for 10 years.  She leaked urine the entire time but was never treated for the problem.  When adopted at the age of 10, Shadow was taken within a week to a vet for treatment and the vet documented “chronic urine scald” on her pelvic area.  Ms. Thompson did not remember this dog.  She did however suggest the possibility that the chronic urine scald could have occurred after the dog was adopted and before the vet exam.  In the case of Shadow, this would have been a matter of days.

Shadow at PAWS Pueblo
Shadow’s home of 10 years at PAWS Pueblo.
Cole, a 3 month old puppy who was at PAWS only a few days before he was killed by older dogs in his kennel. Ms. Thompson did not remember this dog.

Trigger, a 6 month old pup who also was at PAWS only a few days before he died after ingesting his bedding. Ms. Thompson did not remember this dog.

Bailey, a blue heeler mix, had jumped his kennel 3 times. The fourth time, one of his legs got caught in the chain link and the dogs in the adjacent kennel chewed his leg so badly it had to be amputated. Ms. Thompson did not remember this dog.

Lil Bear lived at PAWS for 5 years, most of it in relative isolation. Ms. Thompson did not remember this dog.

In reviewing the shelter statistics provided by Ms. Barker for the 5 year period covering 2006 through 2010, PAWS takes in an average of 277 dogs per year.  The shelter lists only about 5 dogs per year as “deceased”.

You’ll notice that Ms. Thompson did not remember any of the above dogs.  I stopped about halfway through my list and remarked that apparently she was not “hands-on” at the shelter.  She assured me that she was and although she didn’t visit the dogs as often as she used to, she still interacts with them regularly.  Ms. Thompson offered to write down all the cases I was inquiring about, check the shelter records and get back to me.

In the meantime, I couldn’t help thinking it would be much easier to simply talk to the shelter manager who would know the dogs.  Ms. Barker gave me a phone number to contact the shelter manager, Chris Comins.  When I reached Ms. Comins, she asked me for the names of all the dogs I wanted to know about and said she knew them all.  She only offered comment on one dog though – Trigger (the dog who died after eating his bedding).  She stated that the bedding could have been ingested before he came to the shelter.  I asked her if the dog had been seen at PAWS with shredded bedding and she said that was possible since puppies sometimes do that.  Ms. Comins said she would get back to me that day but did not.  She did e-mail me late that night however indicating she would get back to me in the next couple days but I never heard from her.  I never heard back from Ms. Thompson either.

Some may look at PAWS Pueblo and say that shelters who call themselves “no kill” can not be trusted to provide humane care for pets.  But this would be unfair to the many excellent no kill shelters who have a solid history of taking good care of their animals.  As quickly as we condemn kill shelters who don’t reflect our values as a humane society, so too must we condemn any shelter – whether it uses the label of “no kill” or not – which does not reflect our values.

Comprehensive shelter reform legislation solves the problem of shelters which do not meet societal standards by removing the discretion of shelters to harm or kill pets in their care.  This is why legislation such as Oreo’s Law and CAPA are so important.  But how do we get there?  What can the compassionate animal advocates of Pueblo – or those in other cities with shelters that do not reflect the values of a caring public – do to effect change?  Stay tuned for a follow up post.


262 thoughts on “Allegations of Neglect at CO Shelter

  1. Thank you Shirley for posting this. I am forming an awareness group to try to create change in this shelter. Please feel free to offer advice and if anyone has any questions. I will answer. This is almost what upsets me the most, we have people very hard to create a no kill nation and this situation doesn’t help. Thank you!

  2. I don’t get your reference to Oreo’s Law.. wouldn’t it allow shelters like this to take dogs from the municipal shelter if it asked for them? And isn’t that precisely one of the problems with Oreo’s law?

    1. Oreo’s Law allows for rescues/shelters pulling dogs off death row to be inspected where there is suspicion of serious neglect. I not only want dogs saved from being killed at shelters, I also want whistleblowers to keep coming forward and speaking out about issues of neglect and cruelty so that these places can be inspected and appropriate action taken. Anyone in NY who has documentation of unacceptable practices at a NY rescue/shelter can come forward under Oreo’s Law and have authorities look into the allegations to see if an inspection is warranted. This is another protection for shelter pets.

    2. We already have shelters that neglect/abuse animals in their care, so by denying a rescue the right to pull an animal you are saying it is ok to allow shelters to kill them on the “chance” that something like this could happen. A chance at life is better than death – you can rehabilitate and rescue or you can kill and kill and kill.

      And, Oreo’s law would answer the part of shelter neglect by clearing whistleblowers so that there is no retaliation against them. If we do NOT pass Oreo’s Law we are doing nothing more than ALLOWING a system to continue with no checks and balances.

      1. This shelter has more in common with high kill shelters and the leadership and staff who run them despite calling itself No Kill. No Kill is the opposite of hoarding, filth, and lack of veterinary care. The philosophical underpinning of the No Kill movement is to put actions behind the words of every shelter’s mission statement: “All life is precious.” No Kill is about valuing animals, which not only means saving their lives, but means good quality care. It means vaccination on intake, nutritious food, daily socialization and exercise, fresh and clean water, medical care, and a system built to find them all loving, new homes as soon as possible. No Kill does not mean business as usual (poor care, hostile and abusive treatment of animals, warehousing) minus the intentional killing. It means modernizing shelter operations so that animals are well cared for and keep moving through the system efficiently and effectively and into loving, new homes. There will no doubt be those who will seize on this to promote their own agenda of defending an antiquated model of sheltering based on killing. But Erica is right: “We already have shelters that neglect/abuse animals in their care, so by denying a rescue the right to pull an animal you are saying it is ok to allow shelters to kill them on the “chance” that something like this could happen. A chance at life is better than death – you can rehabilitate and rescue or you can kill and kill and kill. And, Oreo’s law would answer the part of shelter neglect by clearing whistleblowers so that there is no retaliation against them. If we do NOT pass Oreo’s Law we are doing nothing more than ALLOWING a system to continue with no checks and balances.”

      2. why would the chance to be sent to ANOTHER shelter with horrific conditions be an improvement for a dog in a shelter with horrific conditions?

        Oreo’s law would require scads of paperwork before a shelter could kill a dog (except I suppose the no kill shelters who don’t kill but euthanize?) Does it require any paper work from the pulling shelter demonstrating that they follow humane standards?

      3. The post the other day on UPAWS and everything they do to help their animals get adopted is exactly what needs to happen at this shelter. But, the leadership is embedded for 30 years now and I’m trying to raise awareness and break through that. Pet’s Alive is a very good no kill shelter and would have saved Oreo’s life. There needs to be more accountablity for the shelter management.

      4. “why would the chance to be sent to ANOTHER shelter with horrific conditions be an improvement for a dog in a shelter with horrific conditions?”

        First of all – who said they would be going from one horrific condition to another? We’re talking about pulling from shelters and placing these dogs in rescues that are more capable to handling that particular breed or issue rather than relying on a shelter which may or may not have the needed resources to deal with the animal correctly.

        “Oreo’s law would require scads of paperwork before a shelter could kill a dog (except I suppose the no kill shelters who don’t kill but euthanize?) Does it require any paper work from the pulling shelter demonstrating that they follow humane standards?”

        Again you are going back to a lot of maybes and possiblies…AND you are twisting things just with the wording of that – so in YOUR mind a shelter kills but a No Kill shelter euthanizes? What kind of sense does that make???? When you have a healthy, treatable animal it IS murder – hence calling it killing. Euthanizing, on the other hand is putting an end to the misery of the animal – it is suffering and untreatable. Don’t twist it so that it appears like those who support no kill are saying the shelters kill and the no kill shelters euthanize! BUT then again – this doesn’t surprise me…every post I see from you appears that you are against ANY change within the sheltering system and that you have no faith in the no kill movement. Making it appear, to me at least, that you would rather we just continue with the sheltering system the way it is and look the other way while the shelters kill animals that could be rehomed instead.

        Do you believe in the no kill movement?

  3. It drives me nuts that we have shelters like this that attach the “no kill” label to themselves and give the no kill movement a bad name! A private shelter that mistreats animals….but because they don’t KILL them that makes them ok. This is why we have so many people say that no kill won’t work and cite shelters such as this for an example. UGH!!! Will it ever end?

  4. Thank you for this post. There are good and bad shelters not matter what their label.

    As pet lovers we should personally check out the shelters in our area and get to know what is happening to the animals there. If bad, time to reform.

    No matter what the shelter’s label nearly ALL shelters have room for improvement. Please help them improve.

    If you are helping a shelter and they will NOT work to improve then it is time to be a whistle-blower!

    Please keep us updated on this shelter. Thank you!

    1. It seems like a simple thing but as you can tell from all the comments nothing works here, that is when it is time for new leadership. I enourage people who do live in Pueblo to join me and make this a better place for our community. Those who do not live in Pueblo, thank you for your support and encouragement. Shirley, thank you for the blog on shelter reform too!

  5. Yep. I see this. I recognize this. I’m pretty sure some of you would come inspect my place and be able to write an expose about sub-standard care. Maybe I should invite Shirley out personally?
    Although I am not a 501(c)3, I used to be a board member on two different local rescues and I have volunteered for a third and local Animal Control as well.
    I’m pretty sure PAWS Pueblo cares. I’m pretty sure they’ve saved some lives. Obviously they are not *the best*…neither am I! Should HSUS come confiscate every animal on the property? Will we be able to track them like the Alabama 44?! That dog with urine burns would be killed with kindness what do you bet? So should these gals have never taken Boris in ten years ago? Or killed him when they figured out he was leaking? (Or, did they never actually figure out he was leaking, because they were too busy trying to take in and place the other 300 dogs?!)
    Some rescues say keeping dogs on tethers is cruel. But I’ve known a lot of animals who have been injured or killed because they lived in pens. (Sometimes it’s because of overcrowding, sometimes it’s because they’re a houdini dog and they got hurt during or after escaping.)
    You want shelter reform…HOW do you want to reform this shelter?! Shut them down? (How will that help the animals…) Does this facility get any government funding? Do we want to HELP these ladies? (Sounds like the whistleblower really was helping, but she got frustrated because there wasn’t enough change.)
    I’m glad we can see and talk about this, but I’d like more proactive comments about what exactly each and every one of us can do to HELP!

    1. I’m not looking for *the best*. I understand fully that some rescues have limited resources and other legitimate challenges. I’m grateful for the efforts. But honestly Lynn, if you invited me out to your place and I started asking you about dogs that had been living at your rescue for 5 and 10 years, would you say “I don’t recall”? Would you try to blame a chronic untreated condition on the adoptive owner? Would you say you’ll get back to me in order to tell your side of the story and then not do that? I just don’t see the comparison between you and a shelter with an annual budget of more than $100k leaving a dog out in the sun while blisters take over his face.

      1. I hear you! (And thanks for the reply…) I’m in the Big Brothers Big Sister’s program, and it absolutely drives me bonkers when my little sister responds to almost every question with “I can’t remember”… I ask her what she had for lunch. I ask her what one of her spelling words for this week is. I ask her how she did on the special project that I helped with. Same answer: “I don’t remember.”
        I know a friend’s kid, his standard response is “sorry.” I ask him to bring me a shovel, “Okay, sorry.” I remind him to leave the bathroom door open so the cat can get in to use the litterbox, “Sorry.” I tell him that I hate it when he says sorry, and what does he say? “Sorry!”
        Everybody gets stuck in verbal and/or mental patterns. These ladies are obviously stuck in BEHAVIOR patterns as well as thought and speech patterns.
        Yes, this place is bad. With more volunteers and more outreach and publicity, they might could do a LOT better! (Couldn’t we all?) But the “help” that is most likely to come to them is from Animal Control, HSUS or the like…and it will likely come in the form of some clean-sweep housekeeping. And I’m pretty sure that it won’t help the animals much at all!
        If this organization killed half their inventory, would they do a better job of taking care of the remaining animals?
        No, probably not. They would most likely take in MORE dogs.
        And if they’re anything like me, they’ll be so depressed about the ones that were killed that they’ll do a crappy job of promoting and caring for the original residents AND the new critters!
        I have musher friends who blame stuff on the buyer all the time! (Very common in purebred circles too.)
        And I might say I’ll get back to you, and then conveniently *forget* to do so… especially when it is quite clear that you know more than I want you to know and I’m scared to make it worse! Hiding, and duck and cover are natural reactions. (Just look at how skilled HSUS is at it—and how many shelters do THEY run? And what is their budget?!)
        A No Kill Nation is within our reach, but not without counting on these ladies, and a lot of other folks sorta like them! We need to work WITH them, because, yes, we NEED these smaller rescue groups to help place animals.
        I should go look see what the adoption fees are at this place. What scares me is that when you whistleblow on a private shelter, they often circle the wagons and STOP showing animals, STOP adopting out, and cut themselves off from volunteers and public outreach. This just compounds the problem!
        Which came first? The outreach, or the support? The support or the quality animal care? I’ve found it to be a very slippery slope. And the needy animals just keep on coming.

      2. I find this article HIGHLY suspect, this shelter is set to open a fantastic facility June 4, 2011. They want to get rid of the board and director that have been working for years at building a state of the art shelter…why? So THEY can take over the facility and turn it into a … ? This reeks of politics.

    2. LynnO, I share many of your concerns with the response to situations like this by the industry. The Milo Foundation in Marin County (just across the Golden Gate bridge from San Francisco) is a perfect example of media hounds overreacting to a situation that warranted cooperation and assistance, not the sledgehammer that was used.

      Unfortunately, what you also tend to defend and protect is exactly what no-kill detractors have been saying all along – that “there are fates worse than death.” What I want to believe they mean is not to recommend killing them all but rather to improve the sheltering techniques.

      The no-kill detractors do not understand (and I believe do not want to understand) the difference between sloppy sheltering and true “no-kill” sheltering.

      No-kill sheltering is highly disciplined and proactive. Nathan Winograd clearly details the significant difference between just declaring one’s shelter no kill and actually studying, preparing for and implementing ALL 11 steps of the No-Kill Equation. Done properly this sort of situation does not develop.

      This PAWS Pueblo “shelter” needs guidance. They obviously care a great deal about animals – obviously they don’t want to kill. But along with this no-kill effort goes a responsibility to enact all the program steps to ensure this very situation doesn’t develop.

      In the long run what those women at PAWS Pueblo have done is to feed the angry appetite of no-kill detractors. Now they have more ammunition for their attacks on what is an excellent and proven methodology when done fully and correctly. I’m sure we’ll hear more from that side of the table soon. Two steps forward, one step back. It’s the No-Kill Shuffle.

      LynnO, I hope what you hear from my comment is a desire to offer assistance to rescues and shelters BEFORE they get to this point. It’s called “self-policing.” That’s a very negative term to describe the industry reaching out to help one of its own members, but this is where I hope we get in the next 5 years. Only then will both factions finally begin to work together.

      1. This is one of my concerns. I did have alot of people tell me that is why that don’t like no kill. But, paws is not what a no kill shelter should be and they have the resources to do so much more but choose not too. I could no longer be part of it even though I was cut off from the dogs. They can turn things around with the right leadership in place!

      2. I really appreciate the opportunity to debate which fate(s) might be worse than death! (Shirley, can you do a post on that?!?)
        Boris (sorry, with the sun blisters) died, euthanized because they couldn’t keep him out of the sun. So, they decided that for him, living in the sun WAS a fate worse than death, so they chose to euthanize him.
        I don’t think a dog standing in water would be better off dead. I agree it’s not the best. I think I’d work to put a pallet or a dog house or something in those runs so that the dogs have the opportunity to get up out of the water.
        As for Shadow the chronic leaker…that’s a really tough one. Maybe it would have been kinder/easier to euthanize her as a two year old. What I really think, is that it would have been WAY easier to place her at nine months, or a year, or two, and then those wonderful people who adopted her could have taken her to the vet, fixed the leak, and enjoyed her for an extra EIGHT years besides!!!
        Why couldn’t PAWS Pueblo have taken Shadow to the vet for her urinary problems? Well, they certainly could have, and the really SHOULD have. But apparently they didn’t? So should they not be allowed to rescue sick or injured dogs? Or should they only be allowed to take in 20 animals instead of 30 or 40?
        HOW are you going to enforce that?! If they don’t want to talk to you, how can you “help” them!

      3. Lynn – Just to clarify one thing for everyone: Boris didn’t have “sun blisters” as in, a sunburn. He had an autoimmune skin disease described by the vet as Pemphigus erythematosis/Discoid lupus erythematosis.

      4. In this particular shelter they are not wiling to change and bully everyone who disagrees with away. I presented the information to them in hopes they would actually talk about it, instead they dismissed it with a “health and welfare” is our number one priority when it was clear it was not. I have notoraized statements from 10 adopters and a vet. They didn’t even talk to thesse people, called them unprofessional. There is a need for new leadership here.

    1. Thank you! I kept just trying to get the dogs out and then I realized it just wasn’t enough, I had to say something to get change set in motion.

    2. I’m not familiar with Twitter -what does this mean that it was mentioned on these sites? I can certainly use the resources.

    3. LynnO,

      First, let me tell you Boris had a treatable condition. I was working very hard to get him to Best Friends to get medical care. He was euthanized for 2 days befoe I called to them I had transport to Best Friends. The had a dog named Reggie at best friends-see guardian angel program on their website. He looked worse than Boris but he was kept out of direct sunlight and medicated and adopted!!! They could have done better. Shadow-another case they could have done better. They did not know that surgery wouldn’t help, becuase they never took her to the specialist. There was small note from a vet that recommended she see a specialist. That was not done, nor did they groom her, she was urine soaked and stunk for 8 years. She is in a loving home now and learning what fun it is to be a dog. A disagree here-we must hold management accountable here for the dogs in their care. Many of the stories would have never happened. It is only a few. That doesn’t mention Taz, Maggie, Tara, Annie ,Marga, Diesl, Rosie, Sienna, Dutch, Perry, Tiny, Sam, Sissy, Rylee ….the shelter needs new leadership.

  6. This Is only a few of the many dogs that have suffered their adoption rates went up after long term residents were adopted. This is simply bad management. I’m trying to create awareness and bring changes much like fix Austin org I need help to do this and welcome suggestions but they are not about the dogs. I’m working on a site to show what is going on .

  7. It’s a shame that animals are treated in such a pathetic manner. A shelter should bring “trust, hope, love, a second chance”, for those animals less fortunate NOT LIES. For these dogs to live in these horrific conditions for years is appalling. For the dogs that were sentenced to this shelter and didn’t make it out “God bless your souls”, A change is needed in HOW a shelter is ran.

  8. I think both YesBiscuit and Tonya both deserve a big thank you from everyone in the No-Kill Community.

    Only by calling these issues to the surface and making it as clear as Nathan has in his comment above that we do NOT accept this behaviour from ANY organization that claims to care about animals will we maintain credibility in the public eye.

    Some in the Community believe that No-Kill shelters who have issues should be not be subject to the same conditions and expectations as traditional kill models – as if labeling themselves as “No-Kill” somehow immediately makes there programs superior to Kill shelters.

    The opposite should be true. No-Kill shelters, because they DO tend to care for animals for longer periods than traditional kill facilities, should have a HIGHER standard of care. We’re not talking about perfection, we’re talking about the basic five freedoms as a starting point rather than a goal.

    In order for this to be enforced, whistleblowers have to know two things – that their concerns will be taken seriously, and that they will receive support from the community at large. I hope, Tonya, that so far this has been your experience.

    Excellent post, and excellent documentation – something that is frequently missing in too many shelter complaints.

    1. KDH,

      Thank you! It has been a long road and until this blog, no one was able to help. The board dismissed my claims and I couldn’t get any media attention. Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg of what has been happening here. I’m trying to start a group, not sure on the title quite yet, but change for paws etc. I hope people will step up and help. They need new leadership who is willing to make the changes that are needed for the dogs. I cannot tell you the heartbreak that I have gone through especially in the last couple of months being completely cut off from the dogs. But, I have to keep fighting for them. Thank you for your commemt.

    2. I agree with what you said. I’m new to the world of aniaml advocacy and learning as I read. What would you define the five basic freedoms as? I’m think food, water, shelter, and veterinary care. I’m not sure of the fifth.

      1. Roger, the Five Freedoms are as follows:

        1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
        2. Freedom from discomfort – by providing a suitable environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
        3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
        4. Freedom to express normal behavior – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals own kind.
        5. Freedom from fear and distress – by ensuring conditions that avoid mental suffering.

        It appears that PAWS is concerned only with number one – and I’m sorry, but that’s unacceptable.

        As for everyone who is doubting Tonya’s claims, let me say this; we hear DOZENS of complaints about shelters every week. The number one issue with these complaints is a total LACK of physical evidence. This is obviously not the case here. When the head of a rescue does not “remember” animals who were in her care for YEARS, this is indicative of a PROBLEM.

  9. excellent points! this happens far far too often not only in the so called “shelters” but with rescuers as well as independant owners that are ignorant. I rescue dogs and they will NEVER be anything less than a part of who i am therefore they get treated and cared for with utmost diligence. The shelter is question is nothing more than a prison from what i can see with dogs as a commodity not the cause. whistleblowers are heros…there is far too much bad out there and it needs eradicated from our ranks for the good of the animals!

  10. I cannot figure out who you are,so have no way of addressing you except through this add a comment.
    PLEASE come visit our shelter before you offer all of thses comments from someone who did everything she could to undermine the effortsof a hardworking group of individuals. we, the people of Pueblo are opening our new shelter in April and are extremely proud of this LEED shelter. Tanya Barker sent all of thses allegations to the state and when the Dept of Agriculture investigated they found nothing to substantiate Ms. Barkers allegations. During the horribly cold and snowy weather for 2 weeks all the dogs at the shelter were in foster homes or at a local veterinarian. I’m sorry that you received such a onesided view of an excellent shelter and an excellent group working tirelessly for the good of animaals. I am a member of Paws but not a board member and my interest is sincere as a member of the community. There is a wonderful sidee to this shelter COME SEE IT.

    1. Sonja,

      My only concern was for the dogs, I have nothing against the new shelter. However, I was not willing to sacrifice the dogs at the current shelter. As for the Department of Agriculture report-did you read it??? I don’t think it said it was a top of the line shelter. It says on Shadow that they “elected no to use shelter resources” on her. So she was left in a kennel for 8 years. Again, it is the welfare of the dog. Read the letters that the adopers wrote. Dig a little deeper. The dogs need socialization, training, attention and yes god forbid interaction with people. Do you really think I spend all that time to degrade this people? You are sadly mistaken. It is the dogs that are now living in forver homes that is important and that is what I did. I did not post anything negative on Petfinder or the website. My goal was to get the dogs adopted. Take another look and not just what they are trying to cover up now.

  11. Come visit us instead of believing the “lies” from Tonya Barker.

    In all fairness to PAWS (the Board, Staff and furry residence )come visit us and then judge for yourself.

    Thank You

    1. I gave the board an opportunity to reply before anything went public, you (and the board) choose not too. It makes me sad that you think this about you and not the dogs.

  12. I am sorry that Yes Biscuit blogger did not wait for my reply and I should have e-mailed again to say it would take me longer to reply. Taking the “well documented packet” as truth without the “other side” is not only irresponsible but serves to only harm an organization that does a lot of good for dogs. The “documentation” in the packet was mostly made by people who never were at our shelter and took Tonya’s word for everything without any other verification. will respond to the things that are inaccurate, in fact lies and make some clarifications.
    1. The organization had been using Petfinder before Tonya took it over. A previous President and I got it started. I was the one who asked Tonya to take the pictures and then later she took over the whole thing.
    2. Tonya came on the Board in Spring/summer of 2007. I have a list of all dogs at the shelter that was made on 3/01/07. There are 37 dogs on the list, 8 of which come in before Jan 2000. 14 of those on the list came in in 2006.
    3. A clarification: We were not taking in dogs at the time of the conversation with the other Board member because there was a frigid cold spell and all dogs were housed inside or off site.
    4. People seem to think that if dogs are in a shelter more than 6 months – something must be wrong. No one asks why or if the dog came in with socialization problems or issues. It sometimes take a lot of care and time to rehabilitate them or for the right person to come along to adopt them. We try to get them to be more adoptable.
    5. There are 15 inside kennels with outside covered concrete runs going to gravel runs. 10 others have outside (but under cover) concrete areas. The staff is diligent about keeping the gravel runs raked and clean. After severe storms, in some runs, because the ground is very hard, there is standing water. The water is drained through trenching immediately. The picture was taken while the staff was trenching a different run.

    Continued tomorrow – some more of the real story.

    1. I am happy to be getting more of the story…I wish I would have waited before jumping on the band wagon. ya kno what they say tho “wish in one hand n crap in the other see which fills up first..looking forward to tomorrows rendition…both sides deserve a chance with me right now..and I am fully aware of the fact it is EASY to make someone look bad when you want I hope the real truth is the outcome of all this. Bigpapa.. :o) pif

      1. This reply breaks my heart and to think you would believe them. You don’t know all the documentation I have and why would I lie about this? I have nothing to gain, my heart has already been broken by being taking away from th dogs. The letters people wrote were from people who ADOPTED the dogs, THEIR experience with them !!!!!! Not lies based on me, THEIR experince. Petfinder was in place when I started by was not updated. Dogs posted in 2002 were not updated. Is is sad that all I wanted to do is help the dogs. Again, this blog dosent mention all the dogs like Rylee, Butch, Sissy, Tiny, Diesel, Rosie, Sienna, Taz Marga Sophie, Newton, Annie Perry etc.

  13. I attempted to get both sides of the story but the information I was able to get, after reasonable attempts, was limited to what you see in the post. If we do get any more information from the shelter, I hope it will be regarding the dogs and their care. I’m far more interested in hearing about things like why the shelter didn’t buy a tarp for Boris’s run than I am in who started Petfinder listings.

    1. The point of talking about petfinder is so people would see that if some things posted were untrue or deceiving by omission than perhaps a lot more of the post was not accurate. Which is the case. I still find it appalling that people take postings by a “whistle blower” as true on face value. More after I read more comments.

      1. Chris,

        Please answer the question: Why was a tarp not placed over Boris’s run. We really want to know. And also why was Butch not treated for his seizures? It costs us $13 a month for his meds. It breakes my heart to know that for 2 years he suffered needlessly and alone. Please do not plead ignorance because we have proof that the shelter knew about it and chose not to act. Just answer the questions please….

  14. How can anyone deny the animals were not cared for in a appropriate way that rickety old shelter they call a dog house was acceptable for shadow for 10 years….they don’t even remember half the dogs. What individual makes a dog live in a flooded shelter water grows BACTERIA. LIES ….pictures state a million words…..Tonya has tried to help these dogs for months with no cooperation from the staff. Its obvious this shelter wasn’t ran propperly and who suffered ….THE DOGS. who puts a 3 month old puppy in with older dogs…My god SERIOUSLY!

    1. A picture may tell a Million words but it is a moment in time and these were taken and sent out with the intent to inflame passions – there is always another side to a story. Shadow did not live in that run for 10 years. We try to move long term residents around to different runs for different stimulation. The picture was of the lean-to that underneath has igloos (donated by the local Humane Society) filled with carpet and blankets – which in Shadow’s case were replaced with clean ones frequently. The use of the words “lived in a flooded …” obviously was done to make one think that the problem was long term. I answered that in a previous posting. The word “older” is another one. No one asked “How old?” or “What breed -size?” Is a week older? A month or 2 months too old? Did people automatically think adult. More on Cole, later.

      1. Shadow did live in a few different runs that looked the same, interesting that you would mention clean blankets but she was not groomed. This issue is for Shadow is vet care. I made the correction already on the flooded ones and said they dogs were removed, but it was not the first thing done.

  15. Thank you Janet. One quick note, the dog was removed from the flooded run but it was not their first priority. They did not get out of that run until 12. There were 2 dogs in that run. They were not groomed afterwards either.

    I encourage everyone to go, there will be no contact with the animals though. That was expressed an email. They did n’t even call them the dogs. The president said it was shelter policy that only staff can give out treats and interact with the animals.

  16. Again, my concern is for the dogs and I would like to see new leaadership and the dogs well cared for. I have no other agenda. Change is needed.

  17. Wow. How easy it is for people to sit behind their keyboard and make judgements. PAWS is a hop skip and a jump from the river- it floods there sometimes. My suggestion is that you go down to that facility and do what you can to help until the new facility is ready. Next time it rains, why don’t you grab some buckets and go down there and HELP get that water out of there! Or donate some materials to make the outside kennels better until the dogs can be moved to the new facility. I guess for a lot of people it’s easier to just complain about something they know nothing about, as opposed to getting out there and doing the hard dirty work that the shelter workers face each day to make those animals lives as good as they can until they find their forever home.

  18. Ok to all of you – I have some direct knowledge of this shelter as I have had a dog that lived there for 2 1/2 years beginning as a puppy. Tonya was very concerned for her as all she did was sit in a dark corner for 2 years so she got her out and got her to me. First of all the car scared her – she shook the whole way home and laid on the floor with her tail between her legs – scared to death of me too. For the first 2 months she sat in a corner in my closet – and I had to feed her in the closet.She was especially afraid of men – even if a man’s voice was on tv it would scare her. She would go outside but it would take me hours of coaxing to get her back in. After 8 months she is not normal by any means but when I let her out she comes back when I call her, she loves playing with my other dogs and she has a very sweet disposition but she is still very disturbed, very skittish and very afraid of men (wonder why?). For any people who think Tonya is lying – I have seen several dogs other than Missy who spent years in this place – they are all terrified and will need lots of rehab. Tonya has worked tirelessly to help these dogs. Come on? If you are a shelter why in the world would you keep any dog in there for 8 and 10 years? It’s insane! What is wrong with their adoption process and where are their fosters? I haven’t been there but have seen the photos. They need serious changes and I applaud Tonya for going through all this on behalf of the innocent dogs who are clearly suffering!

    1. First hand knowledge from Tonya’s eyes and words only. It is NOT true that the dog sat in a dark corner for 2 years. I was at the shelter myself and know from the staff that the dog was out in the run a lot. Tonya was mostly at the shelter on Sat.or Sun. mornings only. Missy came to us with issues. A lot of people reading this stuff seem to never question what was the dog like when it got to us. We do not just take in the most adoptable dogs. Sometimes we recognize issues and sometimes issues do not show up the day of intake or it is thought the dog is just scared coming into a new situation when it is a more ingrained problem. We have taken dogs from our local City Shelter that are sick or would have been euthanized for different reasons. I do not believe a shelter our size would have a part time trainer or a part time vet tech. Why would that be done, if not to help the dogs? I’ll read some more and them write some facts about PAWS for Life Shelter.

      1. I don’t understand how you and everyone on the board is missing this. She is talking about the 8 months she had the dog!! She was a very young puppy when she came to the shelter, it not right to blame her for not adjusting to shelter life for that long of a period. i did show you photos of her , Dutch, Rylee etc, you didn’t want them. I took a whole photo ablum to a shelter committee meeting and no one wanted to see it. The point of this blog is reform and a better life for the dogs.

      2. Chris – The day I brought Sissy home she sat in a dark corner in my closet poised just like the photo I saw of her in the shelter. No normal dog does this! She was a puppy when she first got there – how many “issues” can you have as a puppy? Not many that can’t be taken care of pretty quickly. If she were socialized in the shelter there’s no way she would have behaved like she did when I first got her.She reminded me of a puppy mill dog who has been in a mill for years. I think 2 years is a long time to be at a shelter no matter what, especially a dog that young. Why wasn’t she ever fostered?

    1. Yes I give Tonya credit for what she is doing. These people need to stop being so defensive and open their eyes to what the problem is and it is NOT Tonya. Tonya tried to bring this to their attention is a peaceful and quiet manner by bring her concerns to a meeting but she was met with nothing but negativity and no one would listen. Don’t you see that is why she is doing this?? A board’s job is to LISTEN to concerns and act on them or in the LEAST open them for discussion. It doesn’t look like that is what happened.

      1. Thank you Sharon for your comments. I will wait for the reply although they have yet to respond to anything else. it is very hard to have a discussion with someone who does not respond.

  19. Good grief.

    > The president said it was shelter policy
    > that only staff can give out treats and
    > interact with the animals.

    This is crazy. How can dogs be adopted if no one but staff is able to interact with them? Want to make sure I am understanding this right.

    1. I have the email that says exactly that I’m not trying to attack anyone person I just want to see new leadership. I can send. Anyone the information I sent to Shirley including that email.

    2. Yes Alyssa, only staff are to give the dogs treats. According to Chris, this was implemented by their attorney (nameless). A number of the dogs housed @ the shelter appear to be aggressive. I suppose maybe if people were actually allowed to interact directly with the dogs, the dogs would behave differently. I personally have watched Pepper go from an outgoing, sweet dog to a dog that seems aggressive. Putting your hand thru a chainlink fence to pet them does not make for interaction. Or am I missing something? I watched Deisl cowar to one of the male staff several times (same day) when I went with Tonya to assist with an outting to Petsmart. There was also another male there who picked up a handful of the gravel to throw @ the fence to get the dogs to back away so the staff member could get into the run to get Deisl out. I was appaulled that anyone would even consider that to be a means of handling those dogs.In my mind, that would only trigger the dogs instinct to defend themselves or cause them to fear people. I truly think their should be awareness of the proper handling of those dogs. If they are to be adopted into loving, forever homes, it is essential that they be treated with love & kindness. Not everyone has been taught how to show love to dogs, cats, etc. This is something that should be implemented before any person is to work closely with the dogs @ the shelter. Not only for the safety of the dogs, but also for the person/people dealing with them daily. I do hope that changes can be made soon. I am sure they do care about the dogs, but some very important aspects of proper care are missing.

      1. I missed this comment earlier. Are these male employees left alone at the shelter with the dogs or is someone else usually there, too?

      2. Jeanne,

        In reply to Char’s email, there is a chance -there tends to be more male employees than women although that might have changed in the last couple of months since Ive been allowed to be escorted through. I have personally watch a staff hit different dogs on two different occasions. I also have a witness that was there at the time and wrote a statement. I was not believed over the staff and did not want to her my chances of getting dogs out. Diesel was extremely submissive and would run and hie in the back of kennel until he walked by and he thought it was safe to come back for a treat. This reaction happened everytime until I got Diesel out. Case in point-Diesel was turned in a great dog by his owner who felt with their financial/moving arrangements this was the best possible solution for him. Flash forward 4 years and he was sacred and submissive to staff, told he was a monster to potential adopters and rarely taken out of his kennel. When Char and I took him to Petsmart to see the trainer there -Diesel was terrified-he had not been soclialized in 4 years. His tail was tucked, paws sweaty , he was a wreck. The Great Dane Rescue had tried to rescue him twice and were turned down. By the time I was there and contacted them they told me that and then with his age etc they couldn’t take him.

      3. Tonya,

        After days of posting I feel like we’re still dealing with the tip of the iceberg.
        There were a few comments here and there
        about dogs cowering and being afraid of men–and your comment about the staff member who was rude to you when you walked past him. Now I’m starting to get the “big picture”–this shelter tolerates physical neglect, physical abuse and bullying. That is absolutely not acceptable. At first I thought the dogs were just isolated and no one was tending to their medical and emotional needs. But now I realize they’re forced to live with active physical abuse. And a lot of it may be going on when no one is looking.
        This has to STOP. Any employee who hits, kicks, throws rocks, verbally abuses or otherwise intimidates or bullies a dog there needs to be fired immediately. And the shelter management needs to be willing to make it clear, here and now, that they won’t tolerate abuse. If they’re not willing to take a stand on this issue, they should to be replaced.

  20. I live approximately 2 hours from the shelter and it seem’s to me if your aware that the river floods occassionally….There should be a back up policy and emergency contact numbers to call people or put a cry out to the public for assistance IMMEDIATELy! NOT to let the dogs waddle in filthy river water for hours. Does anyone know if there is a back up internal /external distater plan in place at this shelter for flooding?

  21. WOW – so it took Shirley posting a blog about the shelter for the shelter to actually respond and be MAD that Shirley didn’t wait indefinitely for their response.

    I am sure that those involved at this shelter think they are doing right by the dogs – but here’s the thing….if you have dogs sitting in kennels for YEARS then there is a problem. If you ONLY allow employees to interact with the dogs then you are missing a HUGE opportunity to work on socialization and allowing people to encourage interaction with the dogs – otherwise you end up with a dog that is scared of people other than the 1 or 2 that care for it daily. While I understand that occassionally you end up in some sticky situations it appears like PAWS is standing in a wad of chewed up bubble gum right now.

    When we’re heaing of dogs that should have been vetted to have issues dealt with – leaking urine and skin problems – but they either aren’t vetted or the vet’s advice isn’t followed that is flat out NEGLECT. I don’t care how you want to cut it.

    While I applaud the fact that you want the shelter to be a No Kill shelter BUT then you need to implement the remainder of Mr. Winograd’s philosophy to see that this No Kill method is actually in place and WORKING. Tooting your horn for having dogs kept alive for 4-10 years stuck in a kennel is nothing to be proud of. Not knowing the names of all the dogs in your care is just unthinkable to me, especially as a higher up. Sad that it takes a board member to gather the evidence needed to see change take place. It should’ve never come to that, but here we are.

    Now the question remains – what is PAWS going to do about it?

    1. Erica – Yes! you hit the nail on the head! No shelter should have animals for years and years. After all what is the purpose of a “shelter” but to give animals a safe haven in a healthy, social environment and then to find them permanent homes or, at the very least, foster homes in the mean time.

      1. You brought up fosters – and that reminds me – does PAWS work with fosters? Maybe it was discussed earlier and I missed it…but that is a HUGE component on No Kill that needs to be in place, especially when we’re talking about dogs being kept for long periods of time.

    2. The last annual report (2007) for the city animal shelter (which is not the PAWS no-kill shelter) stated that 10,876 animals were brought in and the save rate was only 56%. That means that in that year 4786 animals were euthanized. This is not a situation where there are plenty of people lining up to adopt – its a situation where people are lining up to leave dogs.. and since the economy turned shortly after 2007 I can only imagine the situation worsened. What solutions do you have to the overwhelming problem of unwanted animals? What are you doing about it?

      1. Riley-we are not talking about the city shelter here in this blog-the issue is the treatment of dogs at PAWS for Life. How many dogs could have been saved in the 14 years Misty was there? 8 years Dutch was there, 5 years LLil Bear was there? Do I need to go on?

      2. No Tonya – you do not – you’ve repeated yourself enough. You are obviously missing the point, as usual. The point to be clear is that over 4000 animals were pts in ONE YEAR. So the fact that it took five years to find a good home does not suprise me. But in the meantime those were cared for and loved and knew that shelter as their home.

      3. WOW taking 5 years to find a dog a home does not surprise you, how about 14 years does that surprise you?

      4. Robert, to answer your question with another question – does it suprise you that I was there when Misty entered the shelter? Does it suprise you that I loved her too? No it doesn’t suprise me that she was there 14 years, it’s been a while, but as I recall, she did not get along well with many other dogs. Of course tensions are high here.. that is what happens when people are passionate about these unwanted pets. The thing you don’t know though is that I was once in the same place as Tonya.. and if I may speak from experience she is feeling like she is being punished by not being with those dogs. I myself was there every weekend – no one else was there to help with the care of the dogs and I spent 12 hours a day cleaning up and getting the dogs out for walks, and there were times when I did not see a single soul – to help or to adopt. However, the difference is that she worked with the board and was a minority in how she thought things should be handled. And this is just based on what Tonya has published on her demand page, the documentation showed me at least that she was acting outside of the authority and hierarchy in place. and unfortunately boards are in place to keep just one person from running a type of dictatorship if you will. As for Misty – would I have placed a 16 year dog? Probably not .. what if it was the stress of being outside of the only home she had known for 14 years that killed her 3 weeks later? I don’t think there is any way to know. Would I have sent two beautiful, adoptable dogs to a prison program? Probably not – I’ve heard too many instances of abuse in these programs. But I would not condemn you for doing what you thought was the right thing for the dog at the time. So I don’t understand why or how you can do that to some one else. To be honest I started following the demand page because I felt like I had been in a similar position myself and worried for the dogs..but there were too many discrepencies to know what was the truth and what wasn’t. Case in point – it has been posted that the shelter keeps dogs because they get funding per dog. Which is absolutely not true – funding comes from private donations and grants. the other issue I have is that here and else where it appears that personal attacks on others is perfectly acceptable, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it is not. I guess my posts here were just to show that there is always two sides to a story, but I don’t think people want to hear that. Based on the tone of so many of these posts, I am pretty sure that the shelter could send you all the pictures in the world of happy dogs being walked down by the river or playing in their pools, but they would only be dismissed. Tonya I would hope that you find it in your heart to move on and continue helping unwanted pets in whatever way you can, but I am afraid this crusade is not helping the dogs at all.

      5. Riley, Would it surprise you that Misty got along with other dogs just FINE (wow she even liked cats) she loved to have a sofa to sleep on and actually came to life once she got away from the shelter she even was a little mischievous a whole different dog.(now you may be right do to her having a new active life and not living in a small run with 3 other dogs caused her to get twisted bowel)But having a home and someone there to love her I’ll take that any day. Every dog I transported out of there to go to their forever home became a very different dog once I got them away from the shelter, even by your own statement you say “To be honest I started following the demand page because I felt like I had been in a similar position myself and worried for the dogs” and “I myself was there every weekend – no one else was there to help with the care of the dogs and I spent 12 hours a day cleaning up and getting the dogs out for walks, and there were times when I did not see a single soul – to help or to adopt.” Hence there seems to be a pattern going on here but then you turn around and say “However, the difference is that she worked with the board and was a minority in how she thought things should be handled. And this is just based on what Tonya has published on her demand page; the documentation showed me at least that she was acting outside of the authority and hierarchy in place. And unfortunately boards are in place to keep just one person from running a type of dictatorship” As for authority how do you think this country became what it is today? Do you think folks would just sit around and say well it’s just the way it is because the authority said so? No people saw something wrong and stood up and said WE NEED TO CHANGE, History lesson Boston Tea Party, Women’s right to vote, Civil Rights (W. E. B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr.) most importantly The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783) and there is many more. Tonya did not do anything to create a dictatorship and was told by Chris to get dogs into the prison program. Now as for the comment you say “it has been posted that the shelter keeps dogs because they get funding per dog” that is not true no were on here or on the Demand Change page has Tonya or I said that, (now if someone else said it that on them not us. Yes there are 2 sides to every story and when the shelter was questioned for their side it’s always the same COME DOWN TO THE SHELTER. Fact people we did not know came forward and told us that on a dog YOU DON’T WANT THAT DOG IT”S A MONSTER, (that monster once Tonya worked very hard is now in a loving home and not scared any more) Fact that dog is dog aggressive (this label was put on a couple long term dogs) I myself heard some say that to a potential adopter, (fact is these dogs are now in homes and playing with other dog when they go to doggie camp) one I took to an adoption day and she could care less about the other dogs she was just looking for love. As for the shelter showing us pictures of dogs being happy walking down by the river, let me see them and I want to see the ones with Diesel, Rosie, Misty, Lil Bear, Sienna, Shadow, and Red (who spent his whole life there I believe 14 years) show me them Yes they could grab a camera and take pics now but that’s moot to me. Has Tonya made mistakes and could some things been done differently YES but she is HUMAN has Chris admitted some mistakes YES and for that I commend her but the board seems to think they are perfect and that Tonya has just got dogs out of there for her own agenda and has no idea what has happen to those dogs, NEWS FLASH everyone she found homes for we have kept in touch with and have made some good friends, that’s more than the shelter can say. One of our friends just recently adopted a dog from there and all the shelter did was call and ask if the dog was doing OK never contacted them again or asked for pics or any other kind of update.

      6. And before I get the question why did I not adopt Misty, I would have but I already had 4 dogs in my home and that’s the limit by law.

  22. This whole blog post is sad and disturbing. Tanya, thanks for being willing to take on the whistleblower’s role. I’m sure it isn’t easy to stand up to the powers-that-be at the shelter and openly call for reform. When you get your new website up, please post the URL. I have a feeling the community isn’t aware of the problems you have revealed here. In fact, I have family members who live in Pueblo and donate regularly to the shelter and they have no idea that the animals aren’t well cared for. They would be horrified, as I’m sure lots of other people in the community would be.

    I visited the shelter website and saw how proud they are of their proposed new building and fundraising campaign. I hope they get the building because the old one looks like a sorry mess, but I question how important platinum LEED certification is if you aren’t willing to provide a high standard of care for the dogs. BTW, I work in a building with LEED certification and still believe living creatures matter more! The PAWS Pueblo policy of not allowing visitors to play with the dogs or give them treats reminds me of a dismal backward zoo, not a progressive no-kill shelter. I am very sorry they chose not to treat Boris. Whether he had pemphigus or lupus, they’re both autoimmune diseases, treatment is similar and not expensive–just requires medicine, monitoring, and CARE. And he should have been kept inside or under a roof–how hard is that? I’m sorry they could not be bothered to THINK and house the puppies separately or get
    Shadow to a specialist. And the list of other dogs you mentioned is a long one. So many who may not have received the care they deserved. So thanks for contacting Biscuit about PAWS Pueblo, Tanya, and I’m looking forward to your new website and campaign to bring about real improvements at the shelter.

  23. Erica – I don’t know if they use foster families. It sure doesn’t seem like it. I am fostering Missy but only because Tonya told me about her and got her to me when she was still working there. I have heard nothing from the shelter asking about her at all in the 8 months I’ve had her.

    1. Because we did not get your info to do the follow-up. And at the time I trusted Tonya to give us some followup. I knew Tonya placed the dog into a good situation and encouraged her to do that with all the dogs. We have not had much success getting a working foster system going though Tonya did work on that. Lady, a pit bull with back knees that dislocated, is now in foster after surgery.

      1. So does your shelter utilize fosters on a regular basis or only for “special” situations? From your response it appears that there is no active foster program in place. Can I ask why that is the case when it appears that there are quite a few dogs that would benefit from it rather than being in kennels all the time.

        Also – in regards to your policy on not allowing people to interact with the dogs (ie give them treats) – why is this policy in effect? I have found better success at allowing more interaction with the dogs rather than less. I would like to hear why it is set up this way.

      2. From what I understand, foster wasn’t in place because of some legal liability. I would think that sort of thing would have been worked out after 30 years.

      3. Other rescues manage to work out the legal details. That shouldn’t keep a rescue from developig a foster program.

      4. Jeanne – Exactly! If other groups can do it I don’t understand what the issue is with not usese rescues in the first place. Most of the time the shelter has the rescue sign paperwork relinquishing the shelter from any liability (at least the ones I have been around have done this). This should have been one of the first things they did when they realized that they were holding animals for years!

  24. In response to Sonia Melton: I have visited PAWS in Pueblo a number of times myself. Both accompanied by Ms. Barker as well as on my own. This was a monthly & sometimes weekly thing.How often do you personally darken the kennel gates at this shelter? I too have spent a great deal of my time & money to support “this” particular shelter since 1992. At one time Ms. Thompson seemed to take a great interest in what was best for the dogs housed @ the shelter, that does not seem to be the case anymore. Many of the members of the board have seen me & spoke to me at numerous fundraising functions since 1992,currently there are only 2 of those members who would recognize me on sight.I know firsthand that they don’t connect with the dogs at the shelter. I could get real wordy here as to the examples I have, however, that would not fix the problem at hand. What I really would like to say to you is, as you pointed out, you do NOT know Ms. Barker or the hours she has spent in search of FOREVER homes for many of the longterm dogs @ the shelter & YES she knows their names as well their likes & dislikes. She cares about the dogs & their overall wellbeing & her efforts are NOT about undermining anyone. Catch up!

  25. How unfortunate that so many of you believe this distorted information from
    Tonya. Also, unfortunate that you would look at a snapshot and not want to
    know the facts behind the photo.
    I have served on this Board for 20 years and never have we been accused
    abuse or neglect.
    Don’t you think it strange that in a city of over 150,000 no one except Tonya
    noticed abuse/neglect? That would include the local vets, rescue groups, Humane Society, PAS (city/county shelter), individual volunteers and the state
    regulatory agency.
    Again, I say, come visit us and judge for yourself. Shame on all of you that
    call yourselves animal advocates.

    1. Yes, shame on us. We are all stupid. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, will anyone from the shelter speak to the actual dog care? For example, is there some reason Boris’s outdoor kennel could not have had a tarp strung over the top?

      1. This is ridiculous. Are you trying to run a professional website? It does not seem like it to me. “We are all stupid.” I can’t believe I took your website seriously. Everything after this comment is an attack on PAWS by angry biased people. I see nothing more.

      2. I just love how people twist things when they don’t agree with them. Hope that your “former” follower is really gone…because it doesn’t appear that they give a rats butt about what is going on…I don’t think you attract these type of people – I think they just like to act like children and think you’ll put up with it. That fact that he/she is going to say this “is an attack on PAWS by angry biased people” – obviously ‘it’ never read through all the posts to see that you gave PAWS ample time to respond and they chose not to…I guess you were supposed to wait until they got around to actually follwoing through with getting back with you.

        Shame on you Shirley for not waiting! What were you thinking? My goodness – to smear PAWS without allowing them a chance to salvage their good name! She said laced with sarcasm….

      3. So PAWS still hasn’t sent a single piece of evidence to back up everything they posted on here? Figures. They had enough time to jump on here and blast poor Tonya and try to say that they are on the up & up…but they couldn’t take that time and gather the ‘evidence’ to prove they are not in the wrong?!?! Just makes you think that they have something to hide, doesn’t it?

    2. What distorted information? Is it not true that there were dogs in the shelter for years, some as long as 14 years is that distorted information? Please set us straight.

      1. I’m not sure who people believe are lining up to adopt these poor dogs.. please see that over 4000 animals were euathnized in the year 2007 (no information in more recent years was available) by the city (which is not affiliated with PAWs.) No one is turning people away – in fact it is likely that for every person intersted in adopting there are at least three people needing to give their pet up. Is it sad that these dogs have to be without a permanent home – of course. But for many of them, PAWs shelter is the only home they’ve ever known. I would encourage people to go visit any shelter wherever they are. Provide some love, toys, treats, beds to those dogs who only know that shelter as theie home. Also please support spay/neuter programs – animal over population is the under running problem here.

    3. How many people (other than Tonya) are/were allowed free access to wander around and take photos of ANY animal?
      I live in Alaska, I can’t afford to come down and visit you. But if I did, would you make an exception and let me actually SEE and touch and photograph ANY animal I wanted?
      I was a board member here and I used to volunteer for a no kill rescue. I was fired (as was the vet!) Here, they are very picky about who is allowed to see what. How often does HSUS, PAS or the state regulatory agency actually physically SEE or walk through your facility? How many vets actually come into your facility and inspect EVERY animal, not just the ones you choose, and not just the ones you have delivered to them?
      Your attitude sounds quite familiar! Although I am pleased to read that Ms. Comins has seen the light and has figured out that FACTS and answers will get you a lot further than shaming or bullying or just avoiding.

      1. Unfortunately the point that is being missed is that it is just a single individual who was barred from entering the shelter because of an incident outside the hours of when staff members were present. This was made perfectly clear in the email that has been made public. This has been twisted to insinuate that all people are barred from interacting with the dogs. Many people volunteer for grooming, socializing and dog walking.

      2. Unfortunately the point that has been missed is that it was a single indivual that was barred from entering the shelter, because of an incident where this individual entered the shelter when shelter staff were not present. This point was clear in the email that was brought up and made public. Many people volunteer to socialize and walk the dogs there.

  26. The facts what matter most….
    Why would Tonya be interested in ruining what she loves most….to be around and to care for the dogs
    and expose one of the very few no-kill Shelters in the south of our state, which will have an huge negative impact on their reputation within their community and beyond. New travels fast as lightening these days.
    Only a very vengeful, power hungry and ill minded person would do such thing and I think even the
    board members can tell me they see not such person in her. In addition every person who speaks out takes
    a huge risk, especially in a smaller town like Pueblo. I can see her doing that for popularity.
    Tonya approached me month ago and we met in Colorado Springs. At this time I never met her or knew much
    about this Shelter, and was at this point very cautious and non bias, what I inherited working for an private investigator.

    While listening to her I realized that this human being cares compassionate and beyond believe for these dogs and is desperate not to venge, destroy, but to look for ways helping these dogs escape their misery.
    No one can tell me involved with this Shelter, that they didn’t know that see was longing for changes since many month. Now folks what was so wrong with improvement to give these dogs a better quality of life….this is basically all what she ask for…. then and now. This is your job as board members !!!!

    After we were done with our meeting, listen to her hopes, concerns, etc. it was the poor dogs images who stuck with me for a long time. Having dogs for year in a Shelter environment, is like for a human being in a prison.
    For these by nature free spirits the negative impact is huge. For the people who think that this is acceptable,
    YOU should put in house…the key thrown away….for three dog years… so 24 year of your life. Once a while you will be taken out and be given a treat, while supervised from the staff in charge of your house arrest.
    So would anyone of you board member volunteer to prove your point that what you so widely practice is

    If you don’t have it in your heart how wrong it is to keep dogs for years looked up, you have utterly failed in the aspect of running a business as well. Usually you don’t leave your inventory sitting until it waists or needs to be disposed, besides you don’t know what you are doing or it’s just a hobby and a sugar daddy is sponsoring it.
    Priority NO.1 should been moving the dogs longest in there. Promoting them like they are the best and newest addition to the Shelter to each and every visitor.

    Please don’t tell me they all had been unadoptable….child eating monsters with huge behavior problems. You know there are people out there rehabilitating these dogs. I’ve gotten three of these labeled dogs in the past months
    and it’s always amazing to watch, how they become the greatest dogs with just some TLC.
    Maybe putting more money into the dogs and less into fancy expensive website would be something to consider?
    I think this is what the people who sponsor your Shelter would love to see.

    If you have any human decency you should make changes, not parading on this blog around acting only defensive you know that this will most likely back fire. Pictures do speak more than a thousand words.
    All anyone with some heart and conscience will ask you to do, is to get rid of poeple letting this going on for so long and to work in the future in the best interest of the dogs in your care, which you HAVE NOT DONE in the past.

  27. All persons who volunteer are allowed to give treats BUT IT MUST BE TREATS THE SHELTER PROVIDES. I do not let people even those I know give my dogs things I have not seen and approved of. I understand that Tanya would just scatter treats which would cause the dogs to scramble for them. I am a retired teacher my principal used to say about any controversial subject it is juat like shit the more you stir it the more it stinks. Stop it Tanya you are being childish.

    1. School teacher huh? Did you teach your kids about the civil rights or women getting the right to vote? or did you just tell them to be sheep?

    2. Tonya did not just “SCATTER” treats for the dogs. If you knew her, you would know of her balance issues & make allowances for an occassional fumble. Speaking of fumbles, as a retired teacher you probably should proof read what you put out for so many people to read. Yes, I am being childish too. It seems to come with anything dealing with PAWS. Why do people, such as myself bother filling out paperwork to be a volunteer? I have done this 2 times & am STILL NOT listed as a volunteer. What is your answer to that?

      1. Tonya,
        Would you please clarify this, if you feel comfortable doing so publicly? If the commenter posting as “Gracie” was making a sly personal dig at you because of a physical disability, I’m going to put her on moderation. That’s just too far over the line for a first-time commenter to expect to come here and pull something like that. I find it offensive.

  28. Thank you Erica, you said that very well and that is what I would like to see happen, implement new programs and new leadership. This equals more dogs saved.

  29. I have been a Board member since 1998 and have been the volunteer Shelter Director since late 2001. Some facts about the PAWS Shelter. We normally house between 40 and 55 dogs at any one time. Last year the intake was over 400 and 368 were adopted,12 returned to owner, 16 agency transfers and 9(6 were newborns)died or were humanely euthanized. Our standard vet bills for 10 months of the fiscal year (not calendar) were $16,550 – does not include spay/neuters. We give basic shots, & bordatella regularly. A vet comes annually to give rabies and now that we have fewer long term residents (Yes, thanks a lot to Tonya) will give rabies more frequently. Our adoption fees are puppies 8-3 months $100, 3mo -1 yr $75, 1 yr to 5 years $60 and over 5 years $50. All dogs over 4 months are spayed/neutered before adoption. The others must have appointments before they leave the shelter with a S/N certificate in hand. Follow up calls are to be made. This past year we were able to hire 3 people to be at the shelter 7 days a week instead of 2.
    Most of the people coming through the shelter comment on the cleanliness and that the dogs seem happy. Are we perfect – no. Can we improve – certainly.
    Now- Boris. Boris came to the shelter in 2000 after running wild with his mother on the local CC campus. He was 8-9 months old. We had a paid director at the time. He was not a biter but had to be cornered to be caught. Annie, his mother, was able to be handled but skitish. None of the long term residents are put in a run forever – they get moved around. Boris started showing signs of the nose problem several years ago and was taken to the vet. He was medicated and it would get better and then worse. He went to the vet several times and was medicated constantly. ( I know some of you will say -“Where were the records?”) The vet prescribed meds but did not give us a written record – an admitted oversight on our part that has been corrected. We did care for Boris. Tonya’s statement about the amount of shade in the run Boris was in when the pics were taken is not accurate. In fact, that run had lots of shade in the am from a large elm tree on the east side and from the 3 walls and in pm from the large elms on the west side of the shelter. (FYI the west trees are mostly gone now.) The State vet’s inspector found no problem with it. Should we have put up tarps – yes but there was no deliberate neglect. I do not understand why Tonya – when SHE saw the instruction did not say anything to me. The disease did spread rapidly. I knew that Tonya was trying to get Boris to Best Friends but was not successful.
    Everyone knows how very difficult it is for pet owners to make an end of life call for their pet. It is just as difficult and maybe more so (I am both.)for a no-kill shelter manager to make that call. We do not euthanize any animal unless a vet believes it is in the best interest of the dog. Tonya found out later about the dog that was cured. I have no way of comparing the cases but we would have done more had we known.

  30. I said I would tell Cole’s story today. I have personally taken responsibility for the death of this beautiful puppy.
    Cole, about 4 months old, came into the shelter with an adult Bassett Hound. The Bassett got adopted. As can be expected Cole became very needy – jumping up on the gate to get attention anytime someone walked by. After a few days of this, I discussed with a staff member about seeing if we could get Cole some company. The run next to Cole had 3 5-6 month old heeler/border collie mixes. One was smaller in stature than Cole and the other two pups were just a little taller. We decided to try letting them go together. The two pens have a common play area if gates are open. They were getting along fine. As usual when we move dogs together, the staff was instructed to keep an eye and ear out. All was well that day. The next morning (I was not there. Told this by staff.) The puppies were fed and things were still fine. Approximately, 2 hours later a staff member heard noise/commotion from the play area. He ran back and found the smallest heeler over Cole, who was lying motionless on the concrete. (It was a cold morning.) Cole was immediately rushed to the vet. I got a call from the vet that Cole was barely alive and his temp. very low. He obviously went into shock. He was euthanized. I continue to be very saddened by this. I truly thought I was doing what was best for him. Things happen that shouldn’t in every home and every shelter and probably every rescue. They can not be changed but it is not abuse or neglect.

    1. I’m sorry but don’t understand this. The puppy Cole was lying motionless, in shock–from what? Was he injured? Did the vet treat him for shock? Why was he killed at the vet’s office? Surely there’s something missing from this story?

      1. Cole was apparently (no one saw it) mauled by the three other puppies. There were no wounds.
        The vet said Cole was too far gone – barely a heartbeat. The vets we go to do not euthanize if an animal can be saved and have a good prognosis for a good quality of life.

      2. Chris, that’s strange. It almost sounds like poor Cole went into shock and was dying from something else and the other pups just looked like the guilty ones. Especially since he didn’t have any wounds. I know puppies don’t just drop dead very often but maybe he had a defective heart or something like that.

    2. Chris, first let me congratulate you on staying on as manager for so long. Most people can’t cut it. Nor would I want to have to be in your place to make such decisions. It is always easy for someone else to point fingers after the fact, but I truly believe that you made decisions at the time in the best interest of the dogs. There was no way for you to know that something would happen to Cole (and it sounds like an underlying issue if no marks were found on him) and I would have made the same decision to provide him with company instead of leaving him by himself.

  31. I am extremley sad reading all the comments on this post. It has suddenly become a “I am right, no I am right” rather than focusing on what is important, the dogs. Humans are nurturers but at the same time want to please and be accepted. Do you start a shelter because you are a nurterer or becuase you want to be accepted? To feel good about yourself, to make others believe that you are doing a good deed. In all of this back and forth blame, I can’t stop but think of these poor animals that do not have a voice, they do not have a way to tell us if they are being treated well or not. Stop and look at what YOU think is the right thing for these animals. Stop thinking of yourselves. That is the ultimate goal, to live in a more humane world! We are all trying to acheive that but being selfish is not the way to get there.

  32. In the case of any whistleblower, one is wise to question what motivations the individual might have for coming forward despite the obvious claim to expose the truth. It’s also good to look at any corroborating evidence the whistleblower offers to support his/her claims. Likewise, it’s important to consider what motivations the group in question might have in claiming no wrongdoing and any corroborating evidence offered to support those claims.

    I think this comment is unfair:

    Chris Comins Says:
    February 18, 2011 at 12:14 am

    I still find it appalling that people take postings by a “whistle blower” as true on face value.

    Readers here are mainly intelligent, caring people capable of making up their own minds based on the evidence at hand.

    The whistleblower, in summary, is saying the shelter needs reform and new leadership due to long term neglect issues. She provides very thorough documentation of her claims.

    The shelter, in summary, seems to be accusing the whistleblower of taking photos out of context and lying. No vet records or shelter records that I requested were provided.

    Each person reading can decide what he/she finds plausible and what he/she does not.

  33. I don’t know the shelter or any of the people (or dogs) involved, but those photos and the director not remembering those dogs tells me a lot. I can still tell you about dogs and cats I worked with years ago – and these dogs sound like anything but “ordinary” shelter situations.

    I hope that something can be done that will make life better for everyone concerned, but particularly for the dogs! That’s all any of US want.

  34. Yes, the “whistle blower” seeks new leadership. GREAT! We can always
    use new volunteers and potential board members. Perhaps those of you
    that are in Pueblo and know about our shelter can apply. I do understand
    that many of you are not even in the state and know nothing about us.

    If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or board member, please
    contact us for an application and to begin the screening process. Yes,
    there is an application and screening process. We like to bring on new people
    that share our Mission (located on our web site: And,
    because we have had issues in the past with board members not following
    our guidelines and putting animals at risk for adoptions (not filling
    our paper work/follow-up), we do have a screening process. And, we have
    become more selective about how adoptions are handled.

    Our first priority is the safety and care of our animals (at this time dogs).
    Therefore, we expect our board members and volunteers to follow all
    safety rules at the shelter and respect the guidelines of the staff regarding
    treats and feeding. This is a policy that is used at many shelters.

    As a non-profit we must do all of our own fundraising to help support
    the care of our animals (presently dogs). Recently, we spent several
    thousand dollars to provide surgery on both back legs of a pit bull.
    She is now in a foster home waiting for adoption. Perhaps you could
    spend some of your BLOG time helping us raise the money to pay
    for this surgery. We have many fundraisers during the year and “request”
    board members to be involved. This request has not always been honored
    by previous board members. It is, however, an important part of how
    we operate our shelter.

    Or perhaps you have some time to devote to our Education Program in
    the schools. It sounds like many of you are very concerned about teaching
    children about pet safety and care. We are looking for retired teachers and
    volunteers to help with this program. Please contact us if you are interested.

    We do also have a foster program. Anyone interested? We have very strict
    guidelines concerning foster care. Would you qualify?

    You need to make a choice. You can become part of the problem and
    continue to BLOG about distorted facts and photos……..OR, you can visit
    us on line or at the shelter and become part of the PAWS for Life project.
    Put your energy into a positive direction.

    1. Once again Carol, I have filled out the proper paperwork to volunteer, I also attended the “dogwalking class” several weeks ago. I sign in as NOW required (per the attorney suggestion)something I had never been asked to do before the staffs knowledge of my relationship with Tonya. I have taken donations to the shelter periodically over the years, anything from newspaper, leashes, collars, food & yes, some toy’s my own dogs didn’t play with. (used, but still in good enough shape to make the shelter dogs happy).I found that the shelter staff were never all that friendly or inviting to visitors. They seemed bothered to have to take time with me. I was asked on several occassions if I NEEDED a receipt for my donation. I never asked for one as I don’t care about the tax write-off. I did feel that it would be an imposition to the staff person asking to have to take the time to write me a receipt.There is one staff member (I will not use his name) who insists on being rude to me. I understand he has a job to do & I am also aware of what a narrow walkway there is between the indoor runs. It seems to me he could excuse himself to get by & give me the opportunity to step out of his way rather than him brushing past/against me like I didn’t deserve some common respect. For all these reasons as well as others not mentioned, I can not continue to TRY to be a part of bettering this situation.I do hope the new shelter will bring about better circumstances for the dogs, but unless the current staff are better trained to care for those dogs, I don’t see it happening.

    2. Carol said: “You need to make a choice. You can become part of the problem and
      continue to BLOG about distorted facts and photos……..OR, you can visit
      us on line or at the shelter and become part of the PAWS for Life project.
      Put your energy into a positive direction.”

      Carol, I understand that all this BLOGGING about your facility is a problem FOR YOU! I’d love to hear specifically which fact has been distorted. (Length of stay? Animal diagnosis? Final disposition of the dog?) And which photo has been distorted? None of them look photoshopped to me!

      I’m too far away to physically come and volunteer in your facility. And there are potential and current volunteers posting here that say you won’t let THEM play. No thanks, I’ve no desire to send you money. I can give it to a no kill facility here with the same results.

      I realize that you’ve done some really good things. I realize that you have saved lives. I realize a lot of people love and support you. That’s GREAT! But Tonya isn’t your enemy. She’s actually your savior. Listen, look, learn. Do better and you can help even MORE animals! You’ll get even MORE support!
      You’re not that unique. There are many rescues that are sorta kinda just like you. Some of them refuse to listen, refuse to look, refuse to see. For some of them, the answer has been HSUS or Animal Control sweeping down to *save* the dogs (ie: kill em) is THAT what you want?!
      Now, maybe you’re not *that bad* and the regulators won’t be able to shut you down (hell, they can’t seem to shut down the puppy mills!) But is this REALLY the direction you want to be going? Is your pride and your ego that big and important that you can’t learn from this and move forward in a way that is BETTER for the animals?
      You have some choices here. Choose wisely. The critters NEED you! (They actually need all of us…) Thanks for listening.

  35. That’s so sad Chris you refer to shadow as a “long time resident”, exactly how long was Shadow at the shelter and shuffled along to different runs. I agree there are two side’s to every story this blog is to assure the dogs receive the propper care they deserve and to find new hope!

    1. Also Chris – what about Sissy? She was a PUPPY when she first arrived there with no problems. Why wasn’t she adopted or at least fostered before she became a total wreck in your shelter after 2 1/2 years? After 8 months of TLC at my home she is still scared of men, loud noises, brooms, etc….but she has come a long way and loves life here – she is happy. No one ever addresses why some of these dogs are there for so many years. That is what I don’t understand.

      1. Shadow came into the shelter – the second time in Sept. 2002. She was adopted as a young puppy ( apprx. 8 weeks) and brought back several months later. ( I think she was older than 4 mo. but will check that.) The people loved her but were moving and that was when we found out that she leaked urine. They said when they got a fenced in yard they would come back to get her but never did. She is a great dog. Shadow was taken to the vet and I was told directly by the vet that she had a congenital defect. There was an option for surgery but I was told the prognosis of the problem being fixed was very poor. The surgery was not attempted. No one -including Tonya – ever thought she had a bladder infection – nothing seemed different with her. Just last year, Tonya found Shadow a foster who kept her a few months and she never reported it. Should she have been taken into the vet for check ups – yes – she just always seemed healthy. Yearly vet checks are now made for all dogs with us for a year.
        I do not think that we “shuffle” any dog around. The staff was/is reminded often to think of the mental health of the animals in our care. It is easy to become used to a dog being in a pen but we all know living things need stimulation. They could have been left in the same pen forever but were deliberately moved – admittedly -maybe not enough.
        There has been a lot said about dogs being in a shelter a long time. So should good dogs be euthanized – give up hope that the right person will come along to give them the home they deserve. The dogs do not just sit in their pens all the time. Most are in with other dogs. They see staff and all the people coming through. We have had quite a few dog walkers and tried to make sure each dog -especially those with us longer – got walked on a regular rotation. We had two big hairy dogs that a Board member and her husband walked almost EVERYDAY for years until the dogs got old and died.Then they walked others until the people got too old. The people could not take the dogs home but loved them. Some people think it is inhumane to keep a dog in a shelter for a long time. Ours are not kept in small areas – they all are able to get into the fresh air and sunlight. They have room to run. In the very hot summers they get wading pools to play in. Would they be better in a home – of course – but their are many dogs in homes that have no life.

      2. About Sissy. I do not think she was a really young puppy when she came in. I will get back on this. I know our trainer worked with her some.

      3. Okay, Shadow was turned in 9/13/02 by her oringial owner atating that her date of birth 5/29/02. She was adopted on 10/4/02 and returned on 10/4/02 for “urintates on self”. She was adopted on 10/6/02 and that person took her to vet and did finally return her in 2/25/03 due to the medical issues. There is one note from the trainor on 3/17 no year listed. I had arranged a foster for her that did not work out due to the person’s change in job. That is her file until Holly took her in June of this year. I did not say I don’t think she had infections, you said if I thought that I should have taken her to the vet. However, I had no such authority. Her kennel card said she was 10 years old and a black lab. No special needs listed. She was special needw not only for the bladder issue but the emotional problems she suffered being in a kennel environment for years. There was a note from a vet stating she needed to see a specialist but there was no record that she was taken. If she was-then why wasn’t that in the file? How do things going missing like that? The point is no more excuses-Paws has the resources to do so much better-make it about the dogs and see what happens.

      4. So how long was Shadow at the shelter chris???? and why did it take so long to get shadow the appropriate care that shadow needed if you all were AWARE of the issue…Shuffled along or moved to different runs whats the differance ..why don’t provide the evidence needed to support what your saying…Havent seen any of that just alot of TALK no proof supporting staff at PAWS. Your talking circles around yourself!

  36. Sorry, but seeing a fancy-dancy website with all the right words and pictures (yeah, it works both ways) doesn’t convince me that that’s how things really are.
    And for your information, many of us ARE involved with local shelters/rescues where we live. We are not simply making empty comments on this blog.

    I found Carol Warner’s post offensive. The words and tone don’t sound very welcoming at all.

  37. To all of you who come to this site, I ask only that you keep an open mind; remember the old saying, “There are always two sides.” I invite EVERYONE to come during our operating hours seven days a week announced or unannounced to visit our shelter to see for yourself the health and safety of our dogs and the environmental conditions in which they are housed. It is ALL about the dogs so I discount any personal comments about any individual’s caring or insinuated non-caring for the animals. Our shelter is outstanding and will continue to get better and better as we transition from the old shelter to our new shelter. Our shelter provides great veterinary care and great love and devotion from the shelter staff (who take great pride in the dogs). PAWS for Life board members (both new and long-term members have worked diligently to make sure the dogs are provided the best care possible. The dog’s current condition and the dog’s future in a forever home is of the utmost importance. All of the allegations of “neglect” wound our hearts, but each of us know what we give in terms of care, love, financial support, and time. Allowing any individual to take that away from us would be counterproductive. For every person who posts a less-than-favorable comment, I could post two highly favorable ones. Please keep an open mind.

  38. Char and Gracie

    I’m not sure what her intent is considering I’ve never met her. However I do know that is there excuse about the whole treat thing that I cause dog fights and I know it is a lie. I’m shocked she is a teacher and apparently tells children not to stand up for what is right or express their feelings .

  39. I also am skeptical of the cole story I think there’s alot missing . I don’t understand how cole got that hurt to the point of having to being euthanized at the vets if there were people in the shelter monitoring cole and the other two dogs.

  40. Ok, I tried to play nice and remain calm and professional… but I just can’t take it any more.

    If I hear ONE MORE COMMENT from the people at PAWS about “keeping an open mind” or waiting for the “other side of the story” I swear I will be cleaning gray matter off of my laptop.

    To all of you at PAWS – listen CLOSELY.

    There are a dozen allegations in the original post. You have responded to… three?

    Boris – by YOUR OWN admission should have had a tarp over his kennel. For you to suggest that this was not “deliberate neglect” is frankly disturbing to me! You are literally excusing your own behaviour by simply saying “oops, I didn’t mean to!” A single look at this dog if it was in the care of our rescue would have ensured that not only would he have been kept out of direct sunlight, he would have had DAILY treatment with medicated creams AND sunscreen!

    One of my dogs is a red merle with a white blaze that widens over the end of her muzzle. Because of this, that patch of skin is susceptible to sunburn. She does not leave the house at ANY time of the year without sunscreen, and during the summer months we don’t walk her during the day or allow her uncontrolled access to the outdoors without making sure she’s staying out of the sun.

    For me to consider putting a dog that looked like Boris (and yes, we’ve had many – my former rescue partner specialized in mange cases) out in the sun without adequate protection (trees and walls? Are you kidding me??) is UNFATHOMABLE.

    Cole – you claim that “Approximately, 2 hours later a staff member heard noise/commotion from the play area. He ran back and found the smallest heeler over Cole, who was lying motionless on the concrete. (It was a cold morning.) Cole was immediately rushed to the vet. I got a call from the vet that Cole was barely alive and his temp. very low.”

    Do you see flashing neon signs on the front of this blog that scream “Gullible Idiots Enter Here”?

    You seriously expect this dog-savvy group to believe that a six month old puppy could/would inflict deadly injuries on a four month old puppy in a matter of minutes/seconds? That in a matter of minutes this puppy went from lively and healthy to “barely alive”? Are you KIDDING ME?

    What happened to the puppy that killed Cole? His siblings? I shudder to think…

    Shadow – let’s ignore for a second the fact that you FAILED this dog in a MAJOR way by not finding her a home quickly – entering the shelter as a puppy and living there for HOW LONG?

    Let’s just address the fact that this dog was suffering from a medical condition that was so obviously treatable and was never given the treatment she needed – and the fact that you then try to BLAME THE ADOPTER for the dog’s urine burn?


    Oh yeah, I can’t WAIT to volunteer for your shelter or adopt now… after seeing the way you treat your volunteers/adopters and conduct yourself in public, I can only imagine what you are like behind closed doors and out of the public eye.

    Everyone here has read the posts and comments coming from the PAWS board/staff and frankly, we find your statements to be OFFENSIVE.

    When the head of the organization doesn’t remember a single dog – particularly those who have DIED IN YOUR CARE and those who have spent ALMOST A DECADE in your facility – you all need to take your own advice and OPEN YOUR EYES to what is going on.

    This entire thing STINKS of an organization scrambling to cover up their mistakes – and everyone here can smell it a mile away.

    Despite what you might believe, we are not a group of mindless automatons who sit around all day criticizing shelters and rescues. We think for ourselves, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

    When an rescue LEADER responds to a question about flooded runs with comments like “Does it rain in SC?” and “Well, we’re near the river” I literally want to run screaming from the keyboard because it takes EVERY OUNCE of self control not to LOSE MY SHIT.

    If this is an ongoing issue and for some reason you haven’t solved it (seriously, how hard is it to get a load of gravel to ensure this doesn’t happen?) there is NO excuse for it happening more than ONCE. I don’t want to hear that you put him in a dry run in the morning – why wasn’t he moved THE NIGHT BEFORE?! It’s not like you can’t watch the weather reports and ensure that those runs are empty whenever you’re expecting rain! There is NO EXCUSE that I am going to accept from a 501(c)3 organization with a 100K+ annual budget.

    And no, I don’t give a DAMN how much money you spent on veterinary care in the last 10 months (although frankly $16,000 seems low to me – that’s like five major surgeries or ten minor/moderate ones where I live). If you couldn’t afford it you shouldn’t have taken them in! Maybe you shouldn’t be dealing with 400+ dogs a year (although I would really like to see documentation for these numbers – care to share your 990’s or do we need to file another FOIA?). If your budget does not allow you to obtain necessary treatments (Boris/Shadow) or to hire/attract enough employees/volunteers to ensure that things like urine/sun burn are not concerns (Shadow/Boris) or to locate enough foster homes to ensure that puppies aren’t being KILLED IN THEIR RUNS (Cole) or being subjected to hours of sitting in filthy stagnant water that floods even the igloos – then perhaps you need to either increase your funding or reduce the number of dogs you handle.

    Honestly I’m not surprised you have difficulty with your foster program with comments like “Would YOU qualify?”

    Your conduct here has been repulsive from where I’m standing, and to put it bluntly any and all doubts I had about the validity of Tonya’s claims were washed away by what PAWS staff and volunteers have written so far.

    I hope you succeed in enacting change, Tonya. It has become clear as crystal the personalities and mentalities you’re up against.

    “but there was no deliberate neglect” doesn’t cut it. Neglect is neglect – particularly when you are a group who promotes “humane” treatment. Quantifying it with the word “deliberate” does not equal a free pass, no matter how much you’d like it to. Nor does a 2:1 ratio of favorable-to-non-favorable comments.


    1. Kim,

      Thank you for wording this so well. I was interacting with the dogs and getting to know them to update petfinder, I didn’t realize what I waas coming across. I tried to help the dogs but I know I needed help to bring about change. I’
      m hoping people will join me in bringing change.

    2. I am clapping for you – you just can’t hear it! VERY well written and great points!!! I was finally getting through all the posts and was going to write a response, but you covered it all. Enough said.

  41. I have personally been to this shelter and have seen that the dogs were well cared for. I know several of the people who work at the shelter and who also are on the board and know the countless number of hours they donate because they are so passionate about the shelter and the dogs. Several of these volunteers have also adopted dogs from the shelter.

  42. Here I am again. There are several more items I will address here:
    1. The board members and many of the supporters who have cared for and taken care of hundreds of shelter residents throughout its existence have done so for more years than Tonya been alive.
    2. Which brings me to my next item. Tonya repeatedly talks about new leadership. Our 12 board members, for your enlightenment, are all over age 50. Efforts are always being made to cultivate and bring in new board members and supporters who will presumably bring in different viewpoints to make our shelter better. I extend to any and all an invitation to attend our board meetings; PAWS for Life is an “open” organization dedicated to saving and nurturing the lives of our shelter residents whether they be there for a week or a year (which we sincerely try to not be the case).
    3. The comments on the blog attributed to me were sadly incomplete. When the comment shows Ms. Thompson did not know this dog for each picture, what I actually said was that I was not familiar with the circumstances Ms. YesBiscuit was referring to and that I would gather that information and get it to her by the end of this week (February 18). Unfortunately, Ms. YesBiscuit did not wait for my response. She also states that I stated PAWS for Life was not currently accepting dogs. What she failed to say was that I said due to the sub-zero temperatures, shelter staff wanted all dogs to be indoors where it was heated and that any of our dogs who could not be indoors at our shelter were fostered by board members and financially boarded at a local veterinarian paid for by one of our most caring board members. The very board member who was told by Tonya that she (the board member) cares nothing for the dogs.
    4. Tonya has shown pictures of certain of our shelter residents and pictures of our old shelter. The dogs she has repeatedly shown are either now adopted or gone. She took a snapshot in time; our board has repeatedly addressed her concerns through written correspondence to her. She repeatedly indicates that we have ignored her comments. Less than factual.
    5. There were comments about the PAWS website and that it perhaps did not reflect a true picture, that PAWS could post anything they wanted there. Can’t argue with that one!
    6. The neglect issue refers to the shelter and presumably the way it looks. Personally, I don’t think the dogs care whether they have wall-to-wall carpeting or if they have a nice piece of carpet to lay on. All of us know that our current shelter is not the prettiest place on the earth. Financial considerations prevent PAWS for Life from having a 24-hour staff where immediate attention could be given to any of the dogs who are paired together. But our new shelter (even though there some derogatory comments about us putting our money into this new shelter) will be better. The money going to build the new shelter is not being taken away from the care of our shelter residents.
    7. Our vet bills which are always paid for ontime are consistently high because we give good care. All of our shelter residents are neutered and spayed. Every resident receives immediate care. Each dog and its condition is reviewed by our shelter staff at the beginning of each morning’s work. Anything noted out of the ordinary is immediately assessed and taken care of. By out of the ordinary, I mean diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and more.
    8. Foster care. A list has been developed of over 100 volunteers for various duties some of which are foster care. Could we do better at utilizing this avenue? Absolutely! Are we neglectful in this arena? Absolutely not!

    1. Wow. Another enlightening post.

      Might I suggest you leave your talking points at home and ADDRESS THE ISSUES THAT HAVE BEEN RAISED.

      If there is something we are missing, if there are facts you feel are incorrect, by all means share! Simply sitting in the corner crying “Less than factual” doesn’t cut it.

      Neither does your continued excuses regarding your inability to recall animals who have (let me say it again) DIED IN YOUR CARE or who have BEEN IN YOUR CARE FOR SEVERAL YEARS. If you have even the most basic interest in what goes on in the shelter that YOU RUN you should be aware of the circumstances of each and every one of the cases presented here.

      I got a real kick out of your post by the way – you have a real knack for HSUS style answering-without-answering. Keep it up, you’re making Tonya’s case for her!

      1. Kim – I have to smile at your posts they are so articulate :) And you have said everything I was going to add. They just don’t seem to want to answer any questions about the length of time these dogs are in there – as we know 8-10 years for some? They won’t answer why so many dogs (I have seen 3 and am fostering 1)are so messed up and scared after getting out of there. These 3 dogs acted like puppy mill dogs that have been in a mill for years!

    2. Uh, Ms. YesBiscuit here,

      Gosh Marilyn, do you remember other people’s names this well?

      You had said you couldn’t imagine it would take you longer than mid-week to get me the information I requested and added that if you foresaw any delay in that, you’d let me know. At mid-week, I hadn’t heard from you and went ahead and posted. I will add that I was disturbed enough after talking with you that I called someone I respect for advice. That person’s response to me was “What are you waiting for?!”. I replied that I wanted to be fair and wait for any possible responses but that I wouldn’t hold on to the post any longer than I had to because I was committed to advocating for these dogs.

      To address your other comment about “sadly incomplete” – I don’t know if you’ve ever spoken to a BLOGger before (or anyone in any form of media) but you don’t get your comments published in their entirety. You get representative bits. Now if I took something wildly out of context, I could understand your objection but that’s not the case.

      And finally, to ANYONE at PAWS, I am still willing to post your shelter records and vet records for the dogs I inquired about. The offer remains open. I try very hard to be fair. I had no expectations that your group was going to be happy about this post but I hope at least you will consider working with those seeking reform at PAWS.

    3. If the dogs are checked first thing in the morning & reviewed by staff, why is that I was there @ 11 am on a Saturday morning & had to point out to a staff member that JJ (shares a run with Pepper) had a large area of skin hanging from his left hind leg that obviously needed some attention? When I went back the following weekend, JJ had a number of sutures to that area. Oh I know, it could have “just” happened”, not likely, I have 4 dogs of my own & I have seen injuries that just happend as opposed to those that have been left awhile.

  43. Have just read some of the newest blogs. I regret to see how some blogs are making this a personal attack. My answers or your answers should not be subject to scorn. This is about the dogs. To the woman who is ready to scatter her gray matter our her keyboard–I am sorry that you feel opposed to honest and open discourse. My question to Ms. YesBiscuit about raining in South Carolina seems to me pretty logical. I have dogs, four rescued dogs. Frankly, there are pretty darn happy when there is water to play in. Again, our organization is open and you have been led to believe that it is not.

    1. Oh. My. doG.

      Are you for real?

      Am I really reading this?

      “honest and open discourse.” Riiight. I’ll let you know when I see some coming from PAWS’ direction.

      “Frankly, there are pretty darn happy when there is water to play in.” That’s not exactly what we’re talking about here, is it? That would be an appropriate response if someone was complaining about puddles – we’re looking at photos of dogs WHO CAN NOT ESCAPE STANDING WATER.

      As for your comments about “personal attacks” – I just LOVE how you can write that in such a serious tone after making a statement like “The board members and many of the supporters who have cared for and taken care of hundreds of shelter residents throughout its existence have done so for more years than Tonya been alive.”

      Uh-huh – apparently we need someone over the age of 50 to make a complaint before PAWS will take it seriously?

      Give your head a shake.

    2. Marilyn, really, what does Tonya’s longevity have to do with any of this? What does any of the board members/staff age have to do with any of this? There are 5 year olds that know more about right from wrong. Get a grip.

    3. I am also sad to see these personal attacks. But I am afraid that is what instigated this – personal bitterness that launched into an attack on the shelter itself.

  44. I don’t think age is relevant here. And if experience has not taught board members and caregivers how to implement a high standard of care, then perhaps years of experience aren’t relevant either. The issue of neglect raised here doesn’t refer to the shelter (except in passing) but to the DOGS. Their care is only mentioned in a couple of your points–one explaining how they were housed in sub-zero weather and one saying their condition is routinely reviewed at the start of the day’s work.

  45. Again to those who say that I should remember each and every dog and their circumstance. You are a better person than I in the memory business and I sincerely desired to get as much information as possible before all of this got started, but please do not make it out that I do not care about the dogsor that I am stupid. That is never going to be your right! I simply will not give in your comments. I will continue to care and to try to do better which is what all of us as PAWS supporters have been trying to say. I, for one, sincerely appreciate every individual who cares for animals. I would never think to impune your character for any failing I perceive you may have. I simply celebrate you for your love of animals and I celebrate myself for my love of animals and I celebrate all of you who are concerned about animal neglect and abuse. Of which, PAWS is NOT GUILTY! By the way, this blogging thing for this 68-year-old is quite invigorating! I wish I could meet you all. Although, civility must always be key! I also believe that one person saying they have not seen another person at the shelter is not providing much to bolster an argument. I can say I have not seen so and so and so there, but that does not mean anything. It doesn’t indicate what that person does or doesn’t do for the dogs.

  46. OK. You are right, Jeanne. Age doesn’t mean anything. My point was that our shelter board is looking for what Tonya talked about–new leadership. That was my only point. All of our board members do have open minds – and you are right, the age of the mind or the age of the person does not matter. We are talking about the care of the animals. I’ll give you some examples. I do walk dogs on a voluntary basis. I do get them from their kennels and play with them. I do feed them, give them water and sit and talk with them and pet them. I do participate in adoptathons. I do thank the people who support our dogs financially and emotionally. If a dog seems to be in any sort of distress, I report that to the shelter staff. And, believe me, they do take immediate action to get the dog checked out. I will state this: Our shelter cannot and will never be able to provide what you all here are doing which is providing a loving “forever” home and family in a house with a loving person/family.

    1. Thank you for this response. I’m glad you’re doing all those things and it sounds like you enjoy doing them. I hope your new shelter won’t have any long-term residents because they WILL go right out the door to their new families. And not live a bleak existence in a lonely run or die preventable deaths as puppies or suffer from treatable medical problems. Your new shelter is going to be very impressive–I mean that. But it won’t mean a thing unless the dogs come first.
      I hope, with all this talk of openness, that you’ll find a way to be open to Tanya’s campaign to improve the quality of care at the shelter. Every shelter needs a watchdog–and she really is looking out for you in the long run.

    2. I have to wonder how it is that you do all of these things Marilyn. I was told by Chris that board members are not allowed to go thru & visit the dogs without supervision by a staff member. With only 2 or 3 of them available at any one time, how could they possibly have escorted you & taken care of their daily duties? I keep hearing that PAWS board members & staff do not lie, does this mean that you are ALL confused?

  47. Kim, please take a closer look at the photos. The dog standing at the block fence has an indoor run into which the dog can get. If the area floods, we do indeed and have moved all of the dogs out of that condition. I sincerely regret that you took my comment about the age (I was only using it as an example) as a negative. My mind is open. And mind tells me that what actions are taken at the shelter by the people for the dogs is NEVER negligent or abusive. Our staff are caring people. Tonya disagrees with that, but she has the right to disagree. Tonya has the right to disagree with me and everyone as I have the right to disagree with her or anyone involved is this blog. I totally disagree that there is ANY neglect or abuse or uncaring at the PAWS for Life shelter. And I, again, invite anyone and everyone to come, to see, and to express your opinion. We are open to receive you!

    1. I see a building. I do not see an indoor run.

      REGARDLESS – this really strikes you as appropriate? That flooded igloo doesn’t cause you a bit of a concern? What about in a flash flood situation? If you KNOW that some kennels are PRONE to flooding, how does that bide for them in a severe amount of water?

      WHY are they not moved out BEFORE this situation arises? I’m sorry, but that is no excuse.

      I also do not believe that you can make the claim “Never Negligent or Abusive”. You’ve admitted here that Boris SHOULD HAVE had a tarp over his kennel to provide him shade. He did not. He died in YOUR CARE. How do you consider this acceptable?

      You are not disputing the facts provided for any of the other photos then?

      Because I have to say, the photo of that heeler mix who lost a leg to the adjacent kennel broke my heart.

  48. Dear Ms. YesBiscuit:
    Please be respectful. You are making fun of me personally for not using your name. I thought perhaps that you preferred Ms. YesBiscuit. My bad. It is not necessary to be disrespectful. And regardless of what you say to me, about me, or post on your blog, I try to be respectful. I merely pointed out what you did not say in your initial blog and I do find that unfortunate. You have said and others have said that based on Tonya’s statements and her pictures that you believe the PAWS shelter is conducting their business in an abusive neglectful way. I will state here again: PAWS for Life DOES NOT AND HAS NEVER WILLFULLY ABUSED OR NEGLECTED ANY SHELTER RESIDENT. AND YES, I AM SAYING THIS LOUDLY FOR EMPHASIS. Yet, you do not give others the same credibility as you give Tonya. I believe that even if every record, every bit of information available was given to you and everyone else, you would continue to make allegations of abuse or neglect. Myself and others have offered the opportunity to see for yourself. You have chosen not to.

    1. You have zero basis for your belief that “even if every record, every bit of information available was given to you and everyone else, you would continue to make allegations of abuse or neglect”. You’ve never provided a single record so how do you know how anyone would react?

      I do try to be respectful but I resort to snark sometimes when I get exasperated (and I will admit, lots of other times too). It keeps me from bursting into tears which, if I’m being honest, is what I feel like doing every time I look at Boris’s face or the picture of Cole who looks very much like a Flatcoat puppy, of which I’ve known and loved a few.

      I’m afraid you can’t simply say “no neglect” over and over (even in all caps) and expect reasonable people to believe it.

    2. Marilyn, new leadership requires that the OLD leadership listen and allow NEW to come in and happen! My impression is that you’ve banned Tonya? Other comments here mention *staff* (or were they volunteers?) throwing gravel at dogs to get them to back away from gates? Is that not abuse? They’re stuck in a pen 24/7 until some human takes them out, and here, a *human* comes and throws rocks at them?! Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing THAT person every day…NOT.
      Other comments note that foster follow-up isn’t happening. You blame Tonya?! Who is in charge here?
      Tonya provided photos and dates and timelines. You’ve provided *shame on you*, ALL CAPS and quite a few ya butts. Who do you think we are going to believe?! Give us something FACTUAL to believe, really, try it!

  49. Marilyn,

    How are people going to see records on Diesel, Shadow, Dutch, Lil Bear, Taz, Marga, Boris, Annie, Misty, Magge, Sienna, Sissy, Rylee, Sam , Cole, Bailey, Truman, Butch? To name a few

  50. And, please, to the others who say to me– Are you for real? I am happy to say “Yes, I am for real.”

    I do go to the PAWS shelter. I am not there every day. I do support the PAWS shelter financially and through the gift of my time.

    I have never seen anything but caring and kindness and love shown to our shelter residents from their first day at the shelter to their very last day. I have never given anything but love and kindness to our shelter dogs who are wonderful.

    Again, thank you all for your love of animals.

    1. Marilyn –

      The reason people ask if you are for real is because it is utterly impossible to reconcile these two things:

      1. I walk the dogs and play with them and talk to them and there is NO NEGLECT AT THE SHELTER.

      2. I don’t remember dogs who suffered from long term treatable medical conditions at the shelter for 10 years or dogs who were killed in our care.

      1. Marilyn,
        you are viciously defending ALL allegations…nothing took ever place to an extend the way Tonya discribes it??
        No even in ONE incident… you could say that this was absolutely not handle right???
        Red flags go up right there and most people wouldn’t buy such picture of a perfect world!!!
        You sound like an incarnation of one of these people denying that the Holocaust ever happen. I spoke ones to one of them and he tried to convince me all pictures had been staged by the Americans to make the germans look bad…it’s ALL lies, lies,lies….the poor guy actually really….what a distorted mind!!!
        There is NO REASONING with someone like you….even more reason for every responsible, decent human being to help deliberating these dogs from people like you!!
        YOU actually convinced me that this Shelter needs serious changes!!!!

    2. “I have never seen anything but caring and kindness and love shown to our shelter residents from their first day at the shelter to their very last day.”

      Really? So how do you account for the entire time Shadow went untreated, and Boris went without shade? I don’t consider leaving a dog to leak urine uncontrollably without treatment or leaving a dog with exposed skin out in the sun to fry to be “caring and kindness and love.” I consider it to be textbook neglect – and I believe that at least an argument for abuse could be made!

      1. This is so sad. The shelter manager addressed these sad circumstances, and agreed in hind sight she might have made a different decision. But she made these decisions with vet input – I would never want to look back and point fingers – I am sure you cannot make any one (who has actually been there to care and love these poor animals) feel any worse than they already do. And that just seems to be your point here.

  51. Ms. YesBiscuit.
    Tonya assembled information(the photos and the other items she submitted to you) in the latter part of 2010 and sent that same packet to the board with a letter in late 2010. Our board did respond to Tonya and her letter and pictures via written communication. In that communication, we thanked Tonya for her care of the dogs and her ability to get longer-residence dogs into loving homes and asked her to remain engaged with our board and continue to provide input.

    Tonya then attended one or two more board meetings and then submitted her resignation from the board about a week or two ago. Tonya was also a member of the shelter operations committee. Her input was solicited at every meeting.

    As a result of an email inquiry from Ms. YesBiscuit on Friday, Feb. 11, I spoke with Ms. YesBiscuit last Saturday, Feb. 12. Ms. YesBiscuit spoke with Chris Comins on Sunday, Feb. 13. I did tell you that I would have the information by the end of this week. Chris Comins stated she would have the information to you by the middle of this week. I am sure all of the fellow animal lovers and followers of this blog can understand sometimes schedules can get delayed. I apologize for not following up with another phone call. Again, my bad. But from that delay, it appears from your comments that we were delaying because we are trying to hide something. We are not trying to hide anything. Please understand that. PAWS has had a few days to assemble items that Tonya has assembled over several months. You mentioned in your original posting that PAWS does not have computerized. That is indeed the case. The board is and has been looking at programs whereby we can keep better records for the shelter and have them more accessible more quickly. This is just one of the areas of improvement that we are keeping our minds open to and are always happy to hear from anyone who has suggestions on how to do better. I repeat: Our organization is not perfect. Can we improve? Yes. With the help of everyone we can get better. Is our organization abusive or neglectful? No!

    1. We spoke on Friday the 11th Marilyn. You said you’d get back to me no later than mid-week and if there was to be any delay, you’d let me know. I’m kinda nerdy about my note taking.

      Chris Comins I spoke to on Saturday morning, the 12th. She e-mailed me that night to apologize for not calling me back as she had said she would. Her exact words on the follow-up were “You will be gotten back to by phone Sun. or Mon.” I’m kinda nerdy about my e-mail saving too.

    1. Ok, since precise clarification seems necessary on every point, let me clarify.

      Boris – had minimal shade provided by the surrounding walls and trees. You are suggesting that Boris knew better than to stand out in the sun? Because this is what you were expecting of him. His ENTIRE KENNEL should have been shaded. He had a BARE PATCH on his face for YEARS. This is unacceptable.

      Shadow – I’m not suggesting he was never seen by a veterinarian. I’m suggesting that he was never treated for his ongoing chronic incontinence. He had documented urine burn on his body when he was seen by a vet after his adoption. This is unacceptable.

      1. I’m definitely not a vet but once got a mistaken diagnosis of lupus (humans get it, too) so had to learn about it. The skin problem Boris had was diagnosed by the vet as pemphigus or lupus–both autoimmune diseases. The thing about keeping him out of the sun was a lot more serious than just preventing more skin damage. The skin damage is the part you can see, but these diseases attack internal organs, too, and can be life-threatening if they progress. Treatment is typically steroids (like prednisone) to reduce inflammation throughout the body. For some reason, exposure to sunlight makes the disease progress–not just on the skin but throughout the body. So Boris should have been kept indoors and walked during the early morning or evening but not at midday on sunny days. If treatment works, the disease doesn’t progress, but it’s never really cured.

      2. Thank you for providing those details, Jeanne.

        I was aware that the issue was autoimmune in nature – in fact, I’ve never seen a dog that looked like this that didn’t have an autoimmune component, although my area of expertise is treating mange.

        I’m even more concerned if what you say is correct – that the sun exposure can advance the disease itself.

        My basic concern was simply the fact that this dog had exposed skin and was permitted to stand in the sun all day. Dogs who have white fur near the end of their muzzle should never be exposed to excessive amounts of sunlight simply because they have no natural sunscreen in that area and are prone to sunburn and all that comes with it (not only the pain and discomfort, but the blistering and potential secondary infections as well as skin cancer and other concerns).

        ANY dog who looked like this, regardless of their disease, should not be housed in direct sunlight. And expecting the dog to refrain from exposure to excess sunlight on its own is quite frankly ridiculous.

        The fact that this exposure also had the potential to worsen his disease state makes the situation even worse.

  52. Please do not knock me for saying there is no abuse or neglect at the PAWS for Life shelter. You are saying there is — you can say anything you wish. I, too, can say anything I wish and I will say again and again and again — There is no abuse or neglect at our PAWS for Life shelter. Come to see us. We welcome you with open PAWS!

  53. I just reread all the blogs. I never told Ms. YesBiscuit I was the director of the shelter nor have I ever purported to be the shelter director. Nor have I in any of my blogs that I was the shelter director. I stated before: I am a board member since 1996. I have been directly involved with the shelter dogs. I have been directly involved with the operation of the shelter. I have volunteered with the dogs, at adoptathons, at fundraisers, at every event I attend I talk about our dogs and help with awareness. Making comments about me as a shelter director not remebering the particulars of each of the names of the dogs that Ms. YesBiscuit gave to me over the phone last Saturday is counterproductive. My memory has nothing to do with the care and concern for the dogs. There is no abuse or neglect at the PAWS for Life Shelter. Are we perfect? No. Can Tonya help us? Yes if she chooses to.

    1. The post does not state that you are the shelter director Marilyn. It’s possible a commenter got you and Chris Comins mixed up.

      If I could explain the concerns over you not remembering the dogs in a plainer fashion: When I asked you for example about Boris, I didn’t simply give his name, I said he was there for 10 years, that he had a fungal disease on his face (that’s what I called it in our conversation because that’s what Tonya called it – but I didn’t call it that in the post because I don’t know enough about the disease to know if that’s accurate) and that he was supposed to be kept out of the sun per the vet – That is a dog you should remember. As are all the other dogs I asked you about. You should remember Boris because he lived for 10 years at the shelter where you walk and play with and talk to dogs. His disfigured face was extremely memorable. He was standing out in the sun in your shelter’s gravel run with a disease overtaking his face to the point that he eventually had to be euthanized. You should remember that dog. If you can not see how disturbing it is that you do not remember him by name and description – along with the names and descriptions of all the other dogs – you are missing something.

      The dogs I described to you were each distinct in their circumstances. After all, how many puppies have gotten killed by other dogs at your shelter in recent years? How many chronic jumpers have had their legs chewed off? Your shelter stats indicate the number of dogs that are marked “deceased” at PAWS every year is extremely small. They should be remembered.

      Again, if you’d like to share the vet and shelter records, I will post them for everyone to see. I want to be as fair as possible.

  54. I just reread one more comment. A photo of any dog or cat or any animal in any shelter also breaks my heart! They should not be in a shelter. They should be in loving homes.

  55. Ms. YesBiscuit: OK–you got me! I was off a day. I am human. Again, I apologize. I was simply trying to give a timeline of the amount of time since your first communication.

    Ms. Kim: You state that since clarification needs to be . . isn’t that exactly what you are asking of PAWS for Life? So please again do not pick on me about what I say. You want clarification for certain items and that is what I am trying to give you.

    Let me state: I do not disagree with anything you all have said about you wanting good and proper care of the dogs in our shelter. I also want the same thing.

  56. Ms. YesBiscuit. I did not say that your post said I was the shelter director. I stated that a different post said that if the shelter director doesn’t remember . . . and I wanted to make sure everyone knew that I was not the shelter director.

    I am sorry that you find my lack of knowledge of the dogs you mention as disturbing. That I was there walking the dogs and volunteering. And not noticing this. I am very sorry. Perhaps I need to relook at myself and disassociate myself from the shelter because you feel that my lack of memory is disturbing. Would that help you feel better? And not so disturbed.
    The issue here is: Tonya Barker documented in picture and word what she believes as “neglect and abuse” at the PAWS shelter.

    Would you agree with that?

    The answer to this issue: Proof there is no abuse or neglect.

    Would you agree with that?

    1. Marilyn,
      it is not 1 picture, one account. I have hundreds of photos etc. They blog only mentioned a few, Did you not read the letters from Dee Williams who adopted Sam, Sharon who adopted Butch, Renne who adopted Perry. Janet who adopted Rylee and Suzie who adopted Sissy, Holly who adopted Dutch and Shadow? All of those letters were included in what I sent to the board as well as the vet report about Boris, The artricle about a dog with the same disease being treated and adopted. NO one asked anything, I got a 4 page letter about nothing from Bev and that was it! No one bothered to call those people or anything. No one asked about Dept of Agriculture compliant. In fact they said it will be taken up with the executive committee. Oh and that the shelter did nothing wrong! Just because those dogs are not still there does not excuse anything.

  57. Marilyn Thompson Says:

    February 18, 2011 at 4:43 pm
    To everyone: Boris did have shade

    This statment makes me upsad beyond believe!!!
    This dog should never even had a chance to be exposed to the sun especially between 10:00am – 2:00 pm with these kind of depigmentation already present.
    You expected the dog to understand his condition and stay out of the sun ??? Some staff should made sure he was in a fully covered area!!!
    Like I said before…there is no reasoning with someone like her and my mind isn’t twisted enough!!!

  58. The only time she saw a vet was when she was adopted in 10/06/02 and that person took her to the vet ande then she was returned in 2/03 because he couldnt afford the medical bills. She had one other visit for an injury from a dog fight. That is it. I have copies of her chart given to me to take to Holly when I transferred her with Chris’s approval. She did not see a vet for anitbotics , pain medication or groomed. She was soaked in urine!!

      1. I will be posting on website tonight the information I have, people can judge for themselves.

  59. Angela, Please refer and talk only about the dogs.

    Your reference to me about denying the Holocaust is unacceptable. Please no character assassinations. Furthermore, I am not “viciously” defending anything. I am stating my opionion to which I have that right. Please do not tell me there is no reasoning with “people” like me. To what are you referring?

  60. medical expertise & synergistic care

    Dr. Susan Klein

    PO Box 1887

    Edwards, CO  81632


    November 4, 2010

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I initially examined “Shadow” for Holly Walthers on June 17, 2010. She had been rescued from the Pueblo Animal Shelter where she had been living for the past 10 years. The history that I was given was that she had been leaking urine since she was 4 months old. There were no diagnostics done to help discover a cause so as to implement a treatment plan. The assumption made by the shelter vet is that she had a birth defect that ‘diverted’ urine flow from the bladder to the urethra and there was nothing further to do for her. She had been adopted out several times, but was always returned do to the severity of the urine leakage.

    On her initial visit, I found her to be soaked in urine with secondary changes to her perineal area from chronic urine scald. As I also do work with the emotional nature of animals, I picked up a sense of emotional neglect and disassociation from people. She projected low self-esteem and was very reactive with regards to her tendency towards fight or flight, i.e. if she couldn’t get away, she would bite. In my years of experience doing this work, I see that pets that get stuck in this mode are there because of severe physical or emotional trauma. Her teeth were heavily coated in tartar and her physical condition reflected years of stress and tension – tight spine, poor haircoat, emotional distancing. She was in a semi-squatted position from the degree of muscle tension in the back legs – this is a result of holding fear in the low back and a lack of proper exercise. This creates further tension in the sacrum which was perpetuating her incontinence issue.

    We worked with Shadow from both an emotional and physiological perspective. Although her body responded well to much of the work we did, she continued to have issues emotionally and physiologically. This is very similar to the situation of an abused child – they make adaptations to survive which may not be beneficial and that may not resolve due to permanent damage.

    In my professional opinion, Shadow is a classic example of neglect, both emotionally as well as physiologically. Just tossing food and providing a roof does not equate to appropriate care for those animals in which these people have been entrusted. Add to that the lack of medical attention that may have prevented the permanent change that resulted in her inability to be adopted, I feel that this shelter does not have the best interests of the animals at heart and are doing a disservice to anyone that is adopting an animal from their facility. As animal caretakers, we are entrusted by the public who provide funds, with caring for the soul and the body – that is not what is happening in Pueblo. This perpetuates more animals coming back to the shelter since their issues continue or are made worse by the lack of appropriate care. I understand that there are limitations to how much a “group home” setting can provide for the individual, but to ignore obvious problems, especially with her numerous returns, shows a profound lack of compassion and empathy on these people’s part. The conditions at the Pueblo Animal Shelter are more reflective of a prison than of a place of hope. I feel that it is important to look at the conditions there over a period of time as the animals are exposed to this for more than just the time frame of a visit checking to see if cages are clean and there is food and water available.

    If you have any further questions regarding this case, please feel free to contact me. I have seen other pets coming from there that suffer from many of the same issues – Rylee and Dutch. My hope is that a better situation for the pets of Pueblo will now be the focus of all parties involved based on what we have all learned from Shadow and the others.


    Dr. Susan Klein

    This is the vet who saw Shadow after Holly adopted her.

    1. WOW. I am officially speechless.

      Tonya, can you just confirm that this letter was received by the Board of Directors at the shelter?

  61. my only comment is that I am amazed that all you negative commentors are so impressed by one persons opinion and negative perspective. As a 30 year old organization in the community, if we were as horrible as has been portayed, we would have been out of business long ago..we are very visible in the community. We welcome all vsitors as well as all of you who have commented negatively…how can you do this without visiting our facitily for yourselves? I am totally flabergasted that this comes from a bunchof “animal activists”. Are you for the animals or against those of us who do our best to support them every day. Think about it!! Pictures are in the moment and sometimes it’s not pretty n our business. We care about our animals untill their forever homes are found. Thousands have been adopted and saved! Maybe you should rethink your comments!
    Bev K

    1. In your own words I quote
      “We are Pueblo’s thirty- year- old, best kept secret”
      but now you say
      “we are very visible in the community”
      well which one is it?
      Or does that matter as long as the we “keep the faith and the dollars rolling in”

    2. PAWS is running around in circles and chasing their own “tail” at this point. One person says that you are not allowed to “visit” the animals and then others tell us that we are more than welcome to come “visit” the shelter and see how things are run. Let me tell you if I spend the money to transport myself & my 5 children down there just so I can confirm any “misconception” and then barred from entering the shelter area where the dogs are I would be down right ticked off.

      I read one post that says one thing…go down the page and find another post the COMPLETELY contradicts what was said. You guys might want to have a meeting before responding anymore so that you can make sure you are all on the same page with your info!

  62. Kim,

    It was not, on October 21, 2010 I sent all board members my letter calling for change and the above metnioned letters by the adopters. When they did not respond I put my case together and Dr. Klein sent me this. I’ve been trying for months to get media coverage and this was part of it. The packet I mailed Shirley was 70 pages and just the tip of the ioeberg. They see letters from Dee Williams, Sharon Adams, Renee Lovell, Janet Boeser, Holly Walthers and Suzie Wilke. They called them all unprofessional and sent them a copy the department of Agricultre report.

    1. Thanks for clearing that up, Tonya. That’s why I asked!

      It’s REALLY difficult to call yourself “humane” when a veterinary professional is willing to put in WRITING that you are otherwise. I wonder if they will respond to this letter.

      Of course, I’m still awaiting a reasonable explanation for what we already knew… I’m not holding my breath.

  63. Wow,I probably should not have read all this over the last two hours – it seems like how our government works – two sides with no solutions or trying to work with each other to make everything better. In my responses I have tried to just tell it like I saw it and the facts as I know them. I have earlier this Pm posted things on Shadow and asked some questions. Some posting make it sound that it should have been easy to get the dogs adopted. It certainly is true that the longer a animal is in a shelter, the harder it is for it to be adopted. Apparently, all of the “posters” here have people that have the time to be very proactive towards adoption- have fosters etc. We have not gotten there though we have a foster now and then. We have several rescues who only use fosters but we have never gotten that portion in place. I was happy to have Tonya on the Board to use her connections from working with Mill Dog Rescue, researching on the internet, etc. I have never questioned her heart for the older residents and hard to adopt dogs. The ironic part is that now when those special needs dogs have found the right people to help them and all but two of the other longer term residents have found homes that she chose to stop helping. Even after she turned us into the State, I asked her to keep working to get some others placed and she never responded. I know she thinks no one would listen, but I do not believe she ever really tried the direct route.

    I did read the packet of letters Tonya sent out. I do not question the vets diagnosis of Shadow’s physical problems. I did not see the depth of kind of psychological behavior described but I am certainly not an expert. The shelter was all she knew for years – taking her out of that environment in itself had to be traumatic.
    There were many assumptions made in the letters and still being made that make things look a lot worse than they are. I do not like the falsehoods that could only be there because false info was given – perhaps not deliberately – perhaps it was. I believe in asking questions before making assumptions – though admittedly I sometimes fail at that myself.
    Unfortunately, hindsight is always better than foresight. I have always tried to learn from my own and others mistakes. No one can change the past but they can work to make sure it does not happen again. I do not believe Tonya would ever think PAWS or any other shelter would be good enough. Should we only take in the most adoptable and healthy animals and leave the others to be euthanized or left in the hands of uncaring owners? Despite the things some of you have said or think about us, I know we have done a lot of good for a lot of dogs.

  64. I had intended to respond about the other dogs but I think I prefer talking where a question or misunderstanding can be taken care of immediately. This blogging allows too much time for stuff to “eat” at you! or have one think about the intent of a “word.”
    Oh well, I will finish what I said I would.
    Lil Bear – a healthy, nice dog. One issue is the length of time he was at the shelter and the note about “relative isolation.” How does a no-kill shelter control how long a dog is with them when adopters have to come to the shelter, to an offsite adopt-a- thon and for us for about 4 years through petfinder and now on or website? Until Tonya came along, we had no volunteer to do the networking needed. Now, by her choice, we do not have one. Lil Bear has not been alone the whole 5 years. He did not get along with males or alpha females in a 24 hour
    close environment. He has had 2 different submissive females as kennel mates- one for well over a year before she got adopted. Tonya insists he is great with everyone. He is except as stated above. lil Bear got adopted once by an elderly man and his wife. Though we usually require family members to meet the dog before adoption, the man adopted him. He took him home and said the dog instantly took to the wife. In the evening that same day their 50 year old daughter arrived, got down on her hands and knees and crawled towards Lil Bear who was lying at her Mother’s feet. The dog lunged and bit her in the face – many stitches. The man really did not want to return him but his wife felt she could no longer trust him. We normally do not take in dogs ( even our own) that have bitten but a staff member did take him back. I am glad he did – the dog has a home ( another one of Tonya’s). We have a full disclosure policy on issues and staff know to tell the whole story and the good things about the dog. We all want every dog adopted. Oh- the pen where the pic. was taken is on the east side of the shelter where dogs come in and go out for walking, etc, people walk by to go into the shelter. Lil Bear was put there so he would get more stimulation and attention when we could not find a suitable (to him) kennel mate.

    It’s way past my bedtime so I will finish with Bailey’s story later in the day or Sunday.

    1. A couple of notes here, I had to ask you about Lil Bear, his chart did not have all that information, it only stated that he bit a girl. There is alot of staff turnover-how did everyone know that story? I did not insist he liked everyone, (Sienna ‘s story will be on my face book page). I was told I could not take him to offsite adoption events because he was dog agressive. He was finally moved to that run that he could see out and he was happier, but you mentioned putting him a closed envirnoment with another dog. Not a supervised envirnoment. When I was allowed to take last June to Vail and I had to bring him back he was stuck in Sienna old run where that picture was taken. I requested he be moved back, but you insisted he was happy where he was. I have permission from his owner to use the letter she wrote.

      P.O. Box 4887
      Eagle, CO 81631-4887
      (970) 328-0397
      November 3, 2010
      To Whom It May Concern:
      At the end of June, my husband and I adopted a dog, Lil Bear (aka Bear), from the Paws for Life
      shelter in Pueblo. He had been in that shelter for 5 years, since he was 4 years old. Bear is a
      wonderful dog; he has no behavioral, medical or mental problems, he’s happy, well behaved, and a
      joy to have around. There is no reason that a dog like this should have been stuck in a shelter for 5
      years and it saddens me that he was. I understand that the older they get, the harder it is for them to
      be adopted, but only a lack of effort can explain why he wasn’t adopted within a year of being placed
      in that shelter.
      Immediately after his adoption, he wasn’t eating much, so I called the shelter to find out more about
      his eating habits and anything else about himthat would be helpful to know. Theyweren’t able to tell
      me what or how much he ate; only that they threw a bunch of food in a bowl and he’d pick at it
      throughout the day. (He now heartily eats up his food immediately). Iwas surprised and disappointed
      that they knew virtually nothing about this dog that had been with them for 5 years. Not even that he
      is partially deaf, which would have been really helpful to know (we initially thought he didn’t even
      know his own name—he did, we just had to say it a bit louder). A woman from the shelter called a
      couple weeks after the adoption to see how it was going. From her demeanor on the phone and lack
      of pertinent questions, I got a clear impression that theywere calling because it is part of their process,
      not because they actually care.
      We weremade aware of Bear thru a friend who has a dog day care business in Eagle-Vail. She put us
      in touch with Tonya Barker, who volunteers at the shelter and was on a mission to find a home for
      Bear. Before, during and after the adoption process, she was my only contact, other than the call
      mentioned above. I am very grateful to Tonya for putting us together with Bear. And also that she
      works so hard to find homes for the other animals in that shelter—she truly cares about them and is
      tireless in her efforts. Something is obviouslywrong and should be looked into if the peopleworking
      and running an animal shelter don’t care for the animals in their care at least as much as the
      Jodi Erdahl

    2. A huge point here-I did not leave by choice!

      I was immediately removed froom Paws Website the day after the Dept of Agriculture visit. I inquire numerous times and was ignored. My blog and pictures are still are the website although my name was removed.

      I was blocked out of Petfinder by the board. Not by choice! This was stated in an email from Bev.

      I was blocked from interacting witn the dogs-not by choice. I was reduced to “escorted” visits by staff members, commmunity services people or whoever was available. My last visit I had 5 people watching 2 within 2 feet.

      I resigned from the board because no action was taken on the letter I wrote and the email about visiting shelter animals (dogs were not mentioned) I did miss 2 board meetings at the end because I am hard of hearing and did not have someone with me too to translate and one that I was out of town.

      You told me I would find another organization that could use my help.

      I encourage everyone to visit my Facebook Page to reach out to the communtiy and bring new leadership that is needed.

      1. How funny when Chris Cummins says that they asked you to stay on board and keep assisting even after you turned them in.

        So they are publically saying that you can return to “work as usual” but that in fact – is NOT the truth?

        Very interesting and more telling about the people that run the shelter – they fired the whistle blower and at the same time want you to keep working with them – but it appears that you are ONLY wanted to keep working as long as it is under their thumb.

        They have continuously been going back and forth in thsi blog. Saying one thing then saying another that completely contradicts their first post. I am so SORRY that you have had to deal with all this crap – AND it appear that they have taken a few lessons from HSUS on CYA 101.

      2. Erica-
        It is correct that I stayed on the board a few more months in that I sent all board members an open letter calling for change and then when they did not happen and I resigned. Chris did ask for my help a couple of time after insulting me first. I was removed from Petfinder, I was basically cut off from the dogs except for “escorted ” visits. I could not give treats or ineract. The only exception is John did let me go in with Wankini (a four year resident) on Christmas Eve Day.

  65. Let’s be clear:
    In a previous comment, Chris Comins asks:
    “Should we only take in the most adoptable and healthy animals and leave the others to be euthanized or left in the hands of uncaring owners?”

    Such statements are false equivalencies. Ms. Comins is asking us to choose only one or the other: Either we allow dogs to be neglected at PAWS or we allow them to be killed at other shelters. I reject these choices because these are not the only options. I do not want shelter dogs being neglected nor do I want them needlessly killed. I want Option C – Shelter dogs being cared for humanely and adopted or fostered as quickly as possible. This is what they do at UPAWS in Michigan. This is what they do at the Nevada Humane Society in Washoe Co. This is what they do in every community that has adopted the No Kill Equation as a means of comprehensive reform.

    We do not have to choose between “perfection” and “neglect”. Anyone who tells us these are our only choices is either in need of education or intentionally trying to distract us from their refusal to implement proven lifesaving measures. For anyone in the former group, please start learning about the many wonderful programs which you can be instrumental in putting into place in your community:
    For anyone in the latter group, your days as false advocates for shelter pets are numbered.

  66. Oh and one other thing: Please stop saying we really all should come out to your shelter and see for ourselves and that if we refuse to do that, we can’t have an opinion on the allegations of neglect. Hullo – the vast majority of folks who use the internet are either:
    – not near Pueblo, CO
    – unable to finance a trip to Pueblo, CO
    – unable to work a trip to Pueblo, CO into their schedules

    We get what you are saying. You are proud of your shelter, you know it’s not perfect but you strongly deny any allegations of neglect.

    Do you get what the rest of us are saying? We’re are trying to HELP YOU HELP THE DOGS.

  67. When I read the letter from Dr Klien regarding shadow I become furious how in gods name could you allow shadow to suffer with this condition for years…UNACCEPTABLE….You call yourself a nokill shelter but definately do not help the dogs in need. I read through the packet Tonya sent and I have seen all the letters of people who have adopted the dogs and have read there concern’s I have seen the pictures I have read the notarized letters from vets that believe neglect is a BIG part of the dogs conditions …WAKE up Kim …Chris obviously when vets and adopters are reaching out in concern theres a PROBLEM. This information isnt just coming from Tonya its coming from multiple sources…Thank god Tonya took a stand and said ENOUGH is ENOUGH there needs to be change…I will back Tonya 100% after seeing the packet and the response’s I have read from your staff so unprofessional…I have volunteered for 4 years and have had multiple success stories in horse and dog rescue..I have no problem coming down to Pueblo and seeing the dogs but I will be interact with the dogs and I expect my questions to be answered in a professional manner. This is so pathetic none of you are hearing what we are saying regarding the dogs care and needing change…you all want to cover your butts and justify…Money is nice for a new shelter…but when that is your priority ” keep the money rolling in” and it appears the dogs are becoming secondary theres a problem. Priority is both fund raising for the dogs and making sure the dogs are taken CARE OF.

  68. Well PAWS – here’s the deal…have ANY of you sent Shirley (aka MS. YesBiscuit) the information she had requested prior to posting this blog, or are the document STILL not together?

    Seems to me you are spending a LOT of time on here defending yourselves. The proof is in the pudding…so where is the documentation to the contrary of what has been posted and the responses with questions? It seems to ME that if you were sincere in exposing us to the truth you would just present the documentation Shirley requested instead of spending this much time TALKING about it.

    That’s just my 2 cents on the subject. Since Tonya came forth with a ton of documentation and speaks on the subject without having to dig through all her paperwork I am sorry to say, but I have to side with her. She hasn’t been sitting here talking about how wonderful the shelter is and all the great things about it….she isn’t throwing down the gauntlet with things like “Come see for yourself” or “Fill out forms and volunteer” – WHERE IS THE PROOF TO COUNTER THE POST???

  69. Chris,
    You & I have had our battles over assuming that something you were told was the TRUTH. You willingly, verbally attacked Tonya in my presence based on “what a staff member told you” had happened. I know, you made apologies for that particular incident. However, there were other “incidents” to follow. Are you really surprised at the responses you read here? This is the exact behavior that got us to this point. You & Marilyn talk about how Tonya had the opportunity to voice her concerns: I have seen firsthand how she is put off when trying to tell YOU about her concerns. The Cocker/mix whose eyesight was not thought to be a real issue. Really? That dog had serious infection in his eyes & Tonya only wanted him to be in a foster situation so he could be medicated & not trampled on by the other dogs he was kenneled with. Your response was ” he’s fine right here”. Let’s not forget Chris, I also attended one of your board meetings (as Tonyas ears). I raised my hand with a question & other board members attempted to move on with the next topic without addressing my questions. So based on that, I can only imagine how Tonya was overlooked for the years she was a boardmember with ideas.
    On a bit of a different note: It must really take alot out of some of the board members to attend the fundraising events. You must be wondering where exactly this is leading. Well, you have one board member who routinely takes part in “Santa” pics @ Petsmart: This woman “Reaks” of an open bottle of whiskey. This is not someone I want anywhere near my dogs. No, I do not drink & my dogs (German Shepherds) are not exposed to people who do. So when I show up @ the pet store to have photos with Santa & one of his helpers is glassy eyed & wobbly, I become concerned about how my dogs may react to that person. This very well could be a liability issue for a dog owner. Just thought maybe that particular problem should be addressed. I’m sure you are aware of the person I am talking about. I notice you nor Marilyn seem to have any response to my posts. That’s ok, I DO know for a fact that many of the issues Tonya has addressed ARE factual.

  70. Since it is public knowledge I will be submitting a request on all managements credentials and qualifications at PAWS that entitle them to run a shelter because what I’m reading and seeing change has been needed for ALONG time now.

  71. The individual who has been seen HITTING OR KICKING the dogs needs to be TERMINATED immediately and if its been reported to management and management hasn’t investigated the reports then management needs a cleaning out…These dogs have already been surrendered, for various reasons they do NOT DESERVE TO BE HIT STRUCK OR ABUSED IN ANY FORM!

    1. To the contrary he is the employee of the month according to the newsletter. The first incident I saw-I was with another volunteer who was helping me take pictures. She really wanted me to tell the board. I told I could not because I would not be believed. As you can see from their responses they do no wrong and when I did speak up I was cut off. I mentioned this to Chris when I was blocked from entering the shelter by her, she said it was a lie. I have more than one witness, on more than one day and more than one dog, but it is not good enough for them, in fact a board member helped me transport Diesel because he saw he was abused but he would not back me either after I sent that letter. The time for change is now and new leadership is needed!

    1. What I don’t understand is, instead of all this effort being poured into negativity and lies and rumors, why Tonya and others, if they can do it better, do not take that same effort to start their own rescue and save even more dogs?? This just all seems so ridiculous.

      1. Riley-I think you are missing the point here, first of all that email about visiting the shelter was not addressed to just me! It was applied to everyone, notice “ALL BOARD MEMBERS” , and second I volunteered to help with pet finder, I wasn’t roaming free, I was updating pet finder and helping to get dogs adopted, I only took those pictures of Boris to get him into Best Friends and they later became a part of the pattern of abuse and neglect. As for being positive-it that what they told the civil rights movement? Any social movement? NO This is a call for new leadership for PAWS period. For Shadow , Dutch, Bailey, Cole, Misty,Trigger, Diesel , Rosie, Sienna, Butch and the list goes on. I won’t let their suffering being in vain.

  72. I always suspected Missy (Sissy) had been abused by a man as she is still so scared of them. But I have no proof of this only her behavior tells me so.

  73. Like I said in my reply above (where Char talks about some of the dogs getting aggressive at the shelter and employees throwing rocks)–there seems to be a culture of bullying, including physical abuse, at the shelter–that’s not a small issue–it’s a HUGE issue and a central problem. Explains why the dogs are coming out of there so traumatized. I see the board’s refusal to take Tonya’s concerns seriously as part of that culture of bullying.

  74. I say report this low life individual to the proper authorities and to the Department of agriculture and to HSUS if you have proof of this abuse happening and witnesses willing to speak out since management is’nt doing anything about it take a stand and GET HIM OUT. HSUS is reviewing the packet I’ll make it my personel mission to assure he is removed! He clearly doesnt belong in a shelter behind closed doors hurting the dogs that already have been surrendered.

    1. You are going to like this, I did tell the inspector tall of that -dates, witness etc. But, she said unless I had video she couldn’t do anything with it and if you notice her report she “didn’t see anyone abusing a dog when she was there” and Chris trusted her staff. Um yeah…I told her that too, I could not voice my concerns beacuse there was no one above Chris except for the executive board which Chris is on. She also didn’t see any flooded runs because it warm and sunny that day. Note -how long it took her to finally meet with Chris too-a whole month after the inspection. I don’t believe it is one person either. That is just what I have seen.

      1. Tonya,

        Video cameras are cheap these days, so maybe the shelter can set some up in the areas where the dogs are kept. Other shelters do this–even the kill shelters.
        That way, if anyone abuses dogs, there will be a record of it. Comes in handy when you have to fire the bullies.

  75. Janet, you might want to reconsider getting help from HSUS. As Biscuit has amply documented in previous blog posts, when HSUS steps in, disaster follows. I don’t want to read about the Pueblo dogs disappearing or being sent to kill shelters like the AL 44, that’s for sure.

  76. Thanks Jeanne your point is noted . What will it take to make these people understand and change their ways???? Frustrating

  77. Bottom line is that if those in charge of this “shelter” feel like they are doing a good job and these things are happening, they need to be replaced! There is too much good information about how to run a shelter – a true shelter for them to continue on the path they are on now.

    Just can’t get these poor dogs out of my mind . . .

  78. I haven’t been here in a couple of day’s, doesn’t look like I have missed anything. I still do not see any proof from the folks @ PAWS that the whistleblower is putting out false information. Seems to me that once again, the “whistleblower” has done her homework. She has handled the followup to demand change for PAWS as diligently as she followed up on finding 4ever, loving homes for as many dogs at that shelter as she could. How unfortunate that they are not making more of an effort to convince everyone here of what an excellent shelter they run, with NO neglect or abuse. Hmm!

  79. Please do elaborate Erica on the information that was requested from PAWS you want to jump on the band wagon and spout off put your money were your mouth is and submit the records requested. Its been ALMOST A MONTH with NO response from PAW…..So let me ask you again WHAT HAPPENED TO COLE……and please spare me the LIES!

      1. Sorry -I think Janet missed you were being sarcastic there not serious:)

  80. It works into my awareness day plan more to come on that. I believed they officially denied a request for information on Cole saying they are private owned and don’t need to but added to visit the shelter….

  81. Sorry Erica my mistake I took your posting wrong and Tonya corrected me… I am pretty defensive when it comes to needing change at this shelter and supporting Tonya after all the crap they have put her and the dogs through…please accept my apology!

  82. I felt I had to write in after reading this article and viewing the pictures on Facebook.

    Whilst a no kill shelter is what every shelter should be there has to be a decent level of care for animals. When animals arrive and during their stay they need to be examined by a vet and not just left to suffer.

    Dogs are social animals so without interaction there are a lot of very disturbed dogs and there is less chance of adoption.

    It’s quite obvious that this place is not running appropriately, you need to make changes and quickly. I’m glad this has been highlighted for the sake of these wonderful animals.

  83. Thank you Susie-this blog combined with the facebook page is really starting to get the word out! I will keep fighting for new leadership!

  84. I think this blog, while long with all the back and forth, will leave no doubt about the conditions at PAWS by the River. I hope Pueblo, where I grew up, has also grown up enough to fix this.

  85. I just read all of the comments on here..boy did that take a long time…but overall I had a very “meh” feeling from the people at PAWS. It basically seemed like a big show to make it sound like they werent being neglectful but in reality, were quite (Cole, Shadow and Boris being 3 fine examples). I understand that shelters take in a lot of animals so maybe it is hard to keep track of every single animal but 1. when you have seen a dog for 10 years with that kind of medical condition, you will know that dog and 2. not every single dog there is going to be unhealthy with medical conditions so if only a certain number were (otherwise Tonya wouldve taken more pictures) then why werent THESE dogs at least taken care of properly? If lets say there are 200 dogs in the shelter, and 10 of them were in as bad of shape as Boris and Shadow were (this is hypothetical, just throwing out numbers) then you can not use the “there were just too many unhealthy dogs to keep track of!” excuse. And dont get me started on Cole, that screams “cover up” to me about something awful, what I cant figure out. And the abuse that the volunteers or workers are doing towards the dogs…dont even get me started!! Look I would love nothing more for PAWS, the community and the people here who love the animals to come together and figure out a solution but I feel like everyone keeps bringing up valid points and PAWS keeps denying it or ignoring it so it continues to be a problem. Meanwhile, it’s the poor animals that suffer.

  86. Oh I have one more thing that I wanted to add and forgot to previously… I do NOT understand how a shelter is expected to adopt out animals (and considering there are dogs there for 10 years, this solidifies it) if humans are not even allowed to interact with the animals, just the volunteers?? How is someone going to want an animal if they can not see how it’s going to be at home? So basically the human takes the dog home, realizes it isnt what it wants, and then dumps it out onto the street or takes it to a high-kill shelter. Thats really putting the dog’s welfare first isnt it?

  87. Thanj you Jessica and Nicki for reading. It is one of the things that bothers me the most, how many dogs could have been saved the 14 years Misty was there, the 8 years Dutch was there and so on. I hope the people of pueblo will stand up and support the no kill effort but with new leadership!

  88. Jessica just a quick note I do have pictures. Of most of the dogs from the last. Three years for petfinder and the ones that got adopted quick were usually okay but longer term dogs showed signs of neglect etc . I want people to. Know about the ones that suffered they need a voice. PAWS needs to be accountable for all the dogs in their care not just the easy ones . So many came out underweight etc . I do want thd community to help bring change for these dogs.

  89. One more quick note . I didn’t go into this thinking I would find this stuff. I just thought it was a way I could help by doing petfinder. I took those pictures of Boris to get him into best friends, in the end they did become a part of the larger picture of what is going in there.

  90. Tonya, thank you for your perseverance. You obviously have nothing to hide or explain away. PAWS does. The amount of spin and damage control they were attempting in the posts on here was what convinced me that there is something wrong about PAWS. That and their whole internet presence – it is all about raising funds for the new shelter. I’ve seen a couple of annual reports from other 501 charities and it is astounding the amount of money that the upper management receives. Even if the board members receive no direct pay, you gotta wonder about their motives when dogs languish in substandard conditions for years while donations are spent on new facilities.
    Oh, and – “go Kim!” I really enjoyed her responses to the PAWS representatives, very bright and insightful person.

  91. Thank you Nicki. I appreciate the kind words and support. It has been a long journey to say the least, but I keep in touch with the dogs and the new owners and it is heart warming to see their progress. Especially Shadow, I cry when I get those emails but it is a good cry because she is so loved and well cared for now. I just wish she didn’t have to suffer what she did. Again, thank you for your support. I didn’t want to make this about any one person at PAWS but new leadership is so needed! I hope the community will be the voice for these dogs too! We can make a difference and make PAWS what it should be-a wonderful no kill shelter.

  92. Connie

    I really think you need to re-read this article. Okay, so you believe they were working hard to “create a state of the art facility” for years while dogs suffered in their care for YEARS!! Please read the information and be informed. Needed leadership is needed for the dogs. Go ahead and ASK PAWS about Boris, Shadow, Misty, Trgger, Cole, Bucth, Bailey, Diesel , Sienna, Lil Bear, Rylee, Sissy, and the list goes on. Again, inform yourself. The questions we have ask of PAWS have gone unanswered……

  93. Has anyone else noticed that on The Forgotten Dog facebook page they stated that the shelter they are working against (which is apparent that this shelter is PAWS because they use all the same pictures as the one on the Demand Change at PAWS facebook page, and the PAWS for Life facebook page)doesn’t adopt dogs because they get funding for having a certain number of dogs at the shelter? And they are posting these lies and asking people for money…..and the forgotten dog page also explains how the person in charge of the forgotten dog page was a former board member/volunteer at this “un-named” shelter in Colorado? Sketchy. How sad that they lied to get people to give them money…..I copied the post that said this knowing that after they read this they will delete it, like other things they delete that they don’t want people to know……

  94. Also, Tanya speaks of two dogs in a kennel where it had flooded and they didn’t get groomed. Obviously Tanya was there if she was snapping all of these pictures, so why didn’t she put the dogs in the bathtub and scrub them down? Or just grab a towel and dry them off? Sounds like she is just as guilty as the people she is pointing fingers at- while they were getting the kennels cleaned she was taking pictures, then complaining that the dogs weren’t taken care of…… seems like she keeps talking about all of the bad things that happened, but she didn’t decide to voice her opinion until after she was banned……

    1. FYI Carmen I was there when the kennels were flooded and I did what I could to help. Raking runs etc, my compliant was the dogs were not removed that run first. That is it. Simple. Let’s see there was one staff member and the trainer there but I’m the problem? Chris did make it in later too. Have you ever worked with shelter dogs? Did you want to kept away from them? Would you speak out against the authority? Would you be believed? So yeah I had a great plan -your right.

    2. Carmen, You apparently JUST joined in this conversation & have missed ALOT of what happened. Tonya was NOT banned until AFTER she voiced her opinion & wrote her letter after being dismissed by the other board members. I was THERE “personally” to see how she was shunned by staff & board members. Tonya took MANY of the shelter dogs to be groomed ( at HER OWN expense) and was told on more than ONE occassion that the dogs did NOT need to be bathed. Catch up before you stick your foot in it.

      1. I’m sorry, Tanya wrote herself that it was a lie that dogs fight when scattering treats. And said she scattered them, not fumbled them…….right here she wrote it, so it seems you have missed that one yourself Char. I guess there is no point in asking her questions, her own response to one of my questions didn’t even make sense. She expects people she is accusing to respond to her questions, but when the shoe is on the other foot, she doesn’t answer any of mine….I am honestly just trying to get some answers- I see that there are both sides to this story- everyone wants answers from PAWS but no one expects that Tanya should be asked questions? Oh well, should I even ask why she was banned? Do I really even care at this point? I am reading a few responses, but still no real answers…..thank you yesbiscuit, this has been interesting, nonetheless……

      2. Carmon (misspelled on purpose) I have just went and reread every one of TONYA’S post (you can’t even get her name correct) no where did I see her say she she scattered treats. please show me where you saw that at. As for her answering your questions you have not asked any you have just made accusations

  95. I’m sorry, once again this is a lot of information to go over, and the facebook page for demand change at PAWS is hard to wade thru because of all of the different pieces of info randomly scattered around the page, but Tanya, tarps are pretty cheap- if you felt this dog that couldn’t be in the sun was in such terrible conditions, why didn’t you go buy a tarp( or two or three) and put it up? I need answers from both sides before I can take a stand on this debate….and since someone is asking other board members for qualifications, Tonya what was your role on the Board and what are your qualifications? And I see on your demand change at PAWS page, you made many complaints about the petfinder pictures not being updated, but it has been recently-and now that it has been, you are insulting the pictures and descriptions? You should be happy that someone else is taking the time to do this, if you are really interested in helping the dogs, but you actually seem bitter that someone else has stepped up and decided to help……???

    1. I am also pretty disgusted that instead of helping these dogs – which seems pretty straight forward – a tarp or a towel – that Tanya just decided to take pictures. In my mind, what she did was worse than neglect..because neglect implies a lack of knowledge.

      1. Quick note, I took those pictures to send to Best Friends to get him in there for medical care, but he was PTS 2 days before when I called Chris to tell her I had transport just waiting on a response from Best Friends.

    2. Oh Carmen, I was right, you HAVE missed alot. TONYA (correct spelling) wears braces on both her legs. She is NOT physically capable of putting up tarps. You also should be aware that she (as a board member) had NO authority to do anything like that. As a board member, she actually NEVER should have entered into a run with ANY of the dogs. Numerous shelter rules broken on a regular basis. These rules were not made known to Tonya until after the state had come in.As for “qualifications”. I don’t think any are required. Regarding the Petfinder pics: I don’t think I would be interested in adopting a dog that someone had to practically strangle to get a photo of. It is way obvious in their photos. They have also posted pics of dogs that are ” nameless”. I personally called them to tell them about one of them. Again, qualifications NOT required.Tonya had NO intention of starting all of this, but in her efforts to help the dogs, she started noticing a pattern & paying closer attention. Those dogs need help from the community & Tonya is just trying to spread the word.

  96. In reading and re-reading things posted here, I see that Tanya was “banned” from the shelter. I see that this was someone that could once be trusted, but for whatever reason she decided that she could break the rules of the shelter, proving that she could no longer be trusted. When Tanya says she was “banned”, is there a legal document for this? I see someone who was thinking she was above the rules. She claims that scattering treats does not cause dog fights….what world are you living in? I assume that the state vet has been on many many calls made by people who once worked for an organization, and then left for some reason. They are aware that there are vindictive people in this world. How many times did you call the state vet while you were there Tanya? If things weren’t being taken care of for the three years you were there, then why didn’t you resign sooner? I’m sorry, but you are just as guilty as the rest of the people there that you are accusing to be abusers and neglectful if you stood there taking pictures but did nothing about it until you got angry that you broke rules and they asked you not to come back…..that’s what I get out of all of your posts here.

    1. OK, I think both of ye of fake names have shared your opinions and made your points here. Please do not abuse your posting privileges.

      1. @Carmen: I have been reading your posts, and I wanted to help provide a little insight based upon my understandings of the happenings at PAWS and ty try and answer some of your questions. You mention “The Forgotten Dog” facebook page and as far as I know, this is not a page that Tanya nor Demand for Change at PAWS administers. In another post, you mentioned that she was too busy snapping pictures to help the animals. I would ask that you please consider the fact that I am a neutral party in your conversation, I am aware of the Demand for Change at PAWS facebook page and I do support it. I just want you to please take a moment to consider the fact that within any organization, charity or not, there are rules, hierarchy and structure. You may want to consider the fact that photographs provide physical proof of what was going on. Reports were made through the proper channels as are required by the state. However, reporting incidents doesn’t allow change to happen. There is obviously something broken within the system if there are dogs at the shelter for years. Sometimes it takes time, energy and LOTS of research prior to being able to make a case in point to show that new leadership may be needed. Also, remember, it is hard to express emotions within written text, and that while posters may be well meaning, the posts can be taken in a different light. You are certainly entitled to your feelings – and I commend you for asking questions. But please understand that it is the welfare of the dogs that is at stake. Sometimes, there are things going on – like research, reports, evidence gathering, etc. going on in the background that aren’t made obvious due to the fact that you don’t want to accuse someone without proper education, knowledge, and proof of what is going on. I hope that you understand where I am coming from and don’t take this as a “personal” attack on your comments as you are free to feel what you will :)

    2. Yes , you are correct. She could not be trusted any longer. They didn’t trust her to sit idly by & do NOTHING to help those dogs. She did NOT scatter treats. Again, she wears braces & has balance issues. Yes, she occassionally fumbled some treats. The only rule she broke was speaking out for the dogs.

  97. I’m sorry yesbiscuit- I thought that this would be a place to get answers…..both sides of the story is what I am asking for…a place to post my opinion and get some straightforward answers. I see that this is bothering you so I will stop asking questions, since these questions are obviously too much to handle…….

  98. @ Betty- thank you for being so open and respectful towards my thoughts. Just seeing some of the things here makes me question EVERYTHING. It is a serious allegation, so I feel I have the right to ask everyone involved some questions…..I will hesitate to post after this, I have asked my questions and voiced my thoughts. I will look for responses, and I will not probably not really ever come to any conclusion in my heart. I see fault on both sides.

  99. Carmen and Riley,

    Tonya (not Tanya) worked as an unpaid volunteer and had no influence over the conditions at the shelter. As a volunteer, she placed several of the VERY long term residents in good homes. She did it, not PAWS. She is not in this for money or glory. She assessed the situation and tried to work within the system to correct the problems, and she was booted out.
    Tonya is a brave young woman with no other agenda than to assist abandoned dogs to find real homes. PAWS on the other hand, seems to have a very different agenda in mind. There are examples of shelter 501c3 abuse all across the country. It’s a dirty job, and sometimes dirty people take advantage of it.

  100. I was not aware of the immense amount of animal abuse, & that someone who went to the trouble of creating a no kill shelter would not insist upon humane treatment of it’s animals. It seems again human beings cannot be depended on to be compassionate to those animals who depend on us for their care. I just cannot comprehend harming a dog.

    1. Christina,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I’m trying to make the community aware, so changes can be made for the dogs in the their care.

  101. I adopted Shadow after Tonya had pulled her from PAWS. She had been adopted once, then returned after staying in Vail for a bit. Needless to say she never had a “person” to permanently bond with and she protected everything as if she would not have it again the next day. She had “a lot” of issues, including her medical issues. Her “urine leaking” problem was congenital and should have been diagnosed when she was at the shelter. A surgery as a puppy may have helped her…at 10 years old there was a slim chance it would help due to the chronic infections. She blessed my home for two wonderful years, had a wardrobe of doggy diapers, vacationed in WY twice, and became part of my family. Was it easy? Hell, no !!! But she was finally loved and taken care of. She was on and off meds for her urinary problem the entire time she was with me, but she was happy….finally. I wasn’t involved with the shelter, politics etc. My only concern, like Tonya’s, is the dogs. Too bad the management didn’t understand that. Shadow crossed the Rainbow Bridge in April 2013 and I miss her every day. I can’t wait to see her again !!!

    1. Thank you for sharing Kathleen. I know how much you loved Shadow. I’m grateful for your love and commitment to her. I wish there was a change in leadership, but there is not. We helped the ones we could.

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