Pit Bull rescue could be shut down

Posted By elaine on April 12, 2011


The old facility in Divide before the rescue was forced to move. (Photo:Mariah's Promise)

A dog rescue specializing in Pit Bulls is facing a possible shut down if they can’t get up to code.

Mariah’s Promise is a non-profit dog rescue that is based in Teller County west of Colorado Springs. For years the rescue was operated in a location in Divide; becoming very well known after taking in Pit Bulls for people who were forced to get rid of their dogs when Denver started enforcing a ban on the breed.  


In this Dept. of Ag. photo investigators say that the dogs don't have proper shelter.

 Last year financial problems forced owners Mike and Toni Phillips to move many of their dogs to a friend’s property in Guffey.

That is when problems with Mariah’s Promise’s license with the Department of Agriculture came into question. 


This photo from the Department of Agriculture shows how they(Mariah's Promise) have to wash dishes and equipment because no sinks are available. This is also a repeat violation according to investigators that say running hot water helps to ensure sanitation; adding that without proper cleaning and sanitation, animals can easily spread disease.

“When the dogs were moved to a new facility they(Mariah’s Promise) needed to be inspected to keep their license,” said Christi Lightcap with the Department of Agriculture. “They failed three separate inspections since August and that is when they were issued a Cease and Desist order.”

The license is part of The Pet Animal Care Facilities Act (PACFA); A licensing and inspection program for pet care facilities throughout Colorado.

“What were trying to do is ensure a minimum set of standards to ensure animal health and well being,” says Dr. Kate Anderson, DVM, the PACFA Program Administrator

Standards that PACFA says are not being met at the new facility in Guffey.

“We are trying to provide the best that we can,” says owner Toni Phillips. ” I mean it’s not perfect and it’s not pretty but the dogs are happy, they’re cared for, they’re number one.”


Photo shows facility in Guffey in the fall.(Photo:Mariah's Promise)

Phillips says that she hasn’t put a lot of money into the Guffey property because it is a temporary home.  The plan is to down size and move the operation to the Phillips home in Woodland Park; but they have to get down to 30 dogs.  Right now she has 50 dogs, but says they are down from the 90 dogs they had in Divide.

Temporary or not PACFA says they still have to comply with the rules; rules they say are there to protect the animals. Some of the rules not followed were shelter for the animals, proper exercise, record keeping, a place to sanitize bowls and dishes, and a perimeter fence.


"Blue Bell" is an American Stafforshire Terrier currently at Mariah's Promise that is in need of a new home

“Perimeter fencing is important to protect the animals within the facility from humans or other animals from coming into the area,” Anderson said.  ” It also prevents escapes from the facility.”

Now the Phillips and some of their friends are rushing to try and comply with the order; hoping that they aren’t too late. 

“They want us to come into compliance, which we’re willing to do, we are willing to do that, we just need the money,” says Phillips.  “We got igloos and straw.  We were complying the best we could.”

The group is asking for donations and for anyone that is willing to help fix the problems, while they wait to hear if they get the administrative hearing they filed for.

PACFA says that they have offered to help place animals

“We’ve offered to help Mariah’s Promise place animals, they have not accepted our help at this time,” says Anderson.

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3 Responses to “Pit Bull rescue could be shut down”

  1. Marilyn says:

    I don’t think that Denver should enforce a pitbull ban, what they need to do is make an amandment that states that if you have a pitbull you should take precautions, and go through many hours of classes, such as, obediance classes, puppy classes, to help reinforce good behavior for puppys and if not breeding quality then the dogs should be spayed n neutered, maybe Shorty Rossi and Maria from Pitbulls and Paroles should have a seminar on the bully breed dogs.

  2. Celestia says:

    .sounds like you needs help from orginaztions thata can donate fencing. If you could write a letter asking for donations of money, labor, or fencing maybe we can drive around town to some of the business and see if they will donate. If you need help with any thing else let me know, I am willing to help any way I could.

  3. Toni’s dogs are FINE!!! Their well-being is better than most shelter dogs … they know they are loved, they’re happy & SAFE!!!

    Just so you know in many cases disinfecting is done by ‘contact’, not hot or cold water. Spray or pour a disinfectant, leave it for 5-10 minutes, rinse and go!!!

    On March 23, 2011 the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Pet Animal Facility Act (PACFA), issued a cease and desist order to the sanctuary – citing a lack of sufficient perimeter fencing and failure to provide waterproof door covers to the Igloo dog houses. This order came as a shock to Toni and Mike because they had been working with PACFA and there was a plan already in effect that would have brought them into compliance regarding these issues. This is just an example of the politics and discrimination that Mariah’s Promise Sanctuary repeatedly deals with in their quest to save lives.

    Now that the fencing is complete, let’s see what else they harass them about.

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