Four decades of dedication: Humane Society of Pagosa Springs celebrating 40th anniversary


This year, the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs (HSPS) is celebrating an incredible milestone — 40 years of serving animals and our community. 

Founded by a group of devoted animal lovers in 1984, the HSPS was created to help our community’s animals in need of a temporary safe haven to call home. The small but mighty group of original volunteers obtained tax-exempt status, began fundraising, and started sheltering unwanted, lost and orphaned animals. The HSPS staff and board of directors are incredibly grateful for the support of the community over the last 40 years.

The HSPS is a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) serving Archuleta County.  The organization was founded in 1984 and incorporated in 1986 as the Upper San Juan Humane Society. The name was changed to the Humane Society of Pagosa Springs in 1999.  

The HSPS operates the only animal shelter in Archuleta County, with its original shelter built and opened in 1986 and a new, larger animal shelter built in 2007 on 11 acres located on Cloman Boulevard.

In 1994, the HSPS opened a thrift store to support the operation of the animal shelter. The thrift store, located downtown, accepts donated items for resale and sells a limited amount of new household items.  

In 2023, the thrift store collaborated with local artist Markus Hughes to create a mural on its street side wall to help beautify downtown, attract more visitors and support the arts. The HSPS wholly owns the thrift store, and all revenues from the store are used to support the programs and operation of the organization.  The thrift store is a key component in creating a financially sustainable model of operation for the HSPS.

In 2011, thanks to a generous donation directed toward facility enhancement at the animal shelter, the day-use outdoor dog kennel area received a significant upgrade.  This upgrade also included the construction of a community dog park adjacent to the shelter.  

In 2013, the HSPS created several outdoor fenced “play yards” so that shelter dogs could spend time each day in small compatible groups conducive to social interaction, play and exercise.  

In 2014, the HSPS built an outdoor cat enclosure as part of its cat enrichment program so that shelter cats can freely move between our indoor cat area and the outdoors.  

In 2016, the outdoor dog area was expanded further to include a fenced area for agility equipment as part of the organization’s shelter dog enrichment program. 

In 2017, the HSPS erected a metal building to house a newly purchased pet crematorium to replace an existing cremation unit that had long outlived its service lifetime.  Pet cremation is both a revenue source for HSPS and a service to community pet owners.  In a typical year, the HSPS will perform approximately 300 pet cremations for community members, returning cremains respectfully and with compassion for the loss of a family pet.  

In 2018, the HSPS purchased and installed a 40-foot shipping container on the shelter grounds to house equipment essential for an emergency evacuation of the shelter.  In 2019, HSPS collaborated with the Pagosa Springs Arts Council for Kathleen Steventon to transform the exterior of the storage container from a drab industrial appearance to a colorful mural depicting shelter pets and promoting shelter adoptions.  This was one of Pagosa Springs’ first public works of art.

The HSPS’s community cat Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program, which was implemented in 2011 to address a growing feral and free-roaming cat problem in Archuleta County, has grown to spaying or neutering more than 200 community feral cats annually, bringing the total to over 2,000 cats trapped, examined, vaccinated and spayed or neutered since the inception of this program. 

During the same time frame, more than 2,800 community pets have also been spayed or neutered through the HSPS’s Fix-It-Free and Spay-Aid voucher programs.  The HSPS has assisted more than 400 local pet owners who were unable to fully cope with the financial requirements of unexpected veterinary emergencies through its Emergency Veterinary Medical Fund.

The HSPS is proud to be a no-kill animal shelter. To be considered “no-kill” in the animal shelter industry, a shelter must have a 90 percent live release rate. Since 2015, HSPS has maintained a 97 percent live-release rate from its shelter.  Although there are circumstances where saving an animal is not humane, and euthanasia is an act of compassion, the HSPS is incredibly proud of its track record of placing animals into permanent homes. 

Since 2015, nearly 6,000 animals have entered the HSPS shelter and have been either adopted, reunited with their owners or transferred to other partner shelters for adoption. 

Today, 40 years since its founding in 1984, the HSPS is more dedicated than ever to the care and well-being of cats and dogs in Archuleta County. In addition to sheltering hundreds of animals every year, the organization has grown to offer a multitude of services for pets and our community, including a pet food pantry that offers more than 10,000 pounds of free pet food to our community annually, low-cost vaccination events to keep animals healthy, spay/neuter assistance to keep our local pet population under control, medical financial aid for members of our community who may not be able to afford medical care for their pets, a TNR program for feral cats and so much more.

The HSPS will host several community events in 2024 to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Visit for the latest information about the organization and animals up for adoption, to learn about ways to support the organization and get involved, and for a list of all upcoming events.

For any questions or more information about the HSPS, contact Kate Simmons, fundraising manager, at or call (970) 264-5549.  

 The HSPS is a local, private nonprofit organization that operates the only animal shelter in Archuleta County.  Your local humane society does not receive funding from the Humane Society of the United States, American Humane, ASPCA or other national animal welfare organizations.  Private donations, grants and thrift store revenues cover only a portion of animal shelter operating expenses.  The remainder of shelter costs must be met through fundraising events and community support.  The HSPS is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.