With City Council signing off on the contract Wednesday night, PAWS for Life Animal Welfare & Protection Society is set to take over animal shelter and animal control operations for the city and county on Tuesday.

Linda Mitchell, the director for PAWS, said on Thursday that preparations are going well, and that staffing and infrastructure are in place for PAWS to begin operating the shelter on Tuesday.

Along with staff from PAWS, Mitchell said there have been 11 employees from the current operator of the shelter — the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region — hired. HSPPR holds the current contract for animal services and animal control, which will expire Monday.

The employees that have been hired from HSPPR include two animal law enforcement officers and others with various job titles, according to Mitchell.

"Anyone that has come and applied, we've hired from the other shelter," Mitchell said.

PAWS has not hired Patti Canchola, who was the staff veterinarian for the humane society. Mitchell said she didn't show interest in staying on.

Canchola said on Thursday that she knew PAWS had chosen their vet in advance of the organization making their announcement about being interested in hiring humane society employees. Canchola said she will continue on at the humane society clinic in Colorado Springs and will still operate St. Martin's Well Pet Care and Amos' Pet Pantry in Pueblo.

PAWS has hired Joel Brubaker as its staff veterinarian.

Brubaker owns Front Range Veterinary Services located in Penrose and works with an organization called Breeder Release Adoption Service, according to Mitchell. According to its website, Breeder Release is a nonprofit organization dedicated to rescuing dogs from breeding facilities who are no longer useful, puppies that cannot be sold, and dogs from euthanasia lists from selected shelters.

"He's been doing rescue surgeries and making a huge difference forever," Mitchell said.

PAWS purchased trucks from the humane society for its animal control officers to use, and those trucks are in place and ready to go for Tuesday, Mitchell said.

"They've been phenomenal to deal with," Mitchell said of the humane society. "I can't say enough nice things about this transition."

Mitchell said the PAWS organization went into securing the contract for animal services to bring the community and rescue organizations together.

"We didn't go into this thinking it was going to be fun and easy," Mitchell said. "The board did this because they wanted to make a difference."

When PAWS takes over shelter operations Tuesday, it will end the 16-year run Pueblo Animal Services — a division of the humane society — has had operating the shelter.

"While we are disappointed that 16 years of compassionate service and dedication are coming to an end, all of us at PAS care deeply about the health and safety of pets and people in our community," Julie Justman, the PAS director, said on Thursday.

Justman added that even though PAS did not receive the new contract for the shelter, it will continue to carry out its mission through private services, including the annual Pueblo Pet Check in April.

rseverance@chieftain.com