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It is the mission of this Board and the experienced professionals at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to not only save the lives of more animals at our shelters, but also to ensure their well-being while they are there. The current east shelter falls short of our (and your) high standards for animal care, and does not meet ASPCA standards. Our money and resources have limits. Current plans call for the eventual closing of the East Shelter and construction of a state-of-the-art, centralized shelter at the current 27th Avenue and Durango location, which is the county-owned site best suited for expansion. This should be seen as an advancement, not a reversal, of the progress we have made over the past several years in prioritizing animal welfare. Additional investments or changes may be needed down the road, and those will be considered when appropriate.
Animal intake in Maricopa County has declined 13% every year for the last five years, creating the possibility for a different approach to animal welfare that emphasizes service and prevention, not just sheltering. A center designed with residents and their pets in mind will: increase the quality of care we provide; reduce the length of stay for animals; improve the experience for customers who want to adopt; provide more resources to reunite people with their pets; and, address the challenges that lead people to give up their pets in the first place.
In addition, a single location means one place to look for a lost pet, which will ultimately save time and energy for customers. Right now, an animal picked up in the East Valley may not end up at the east shelter, depending on capacity. This confusion will be eliminated with a single, centrally located shelter.
We will have a clearer idea about the cost after completing the design phase of the project. Costs will be minimized by expanding on undeveloped land already owned by the county. We will save money on overall operating costs because we can consolidate staff, technology, maintenance, and storage.
We are always open to exploring alternative funding sources that can bring down direct costs to taxpayers. Animal Care and Control’s operations have benefitted greatly from public-private partnerships, the work of non-profits, and the generosity of philanthropists. We expect that to continue and look forward to working with those who care about animals as much as we do.
Saving lives has been, and will continue to be, the primary mission of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. In 2017, 94% of the animals that came into our shelters were adopted or relocated, up from 84% in 2016. A single, state-of-the-art animal resource center will bring people together to resolve animal welfare issues; allow us to expand and enhance partnerships with animal rescue groups and individuals; and, provide services to underserved areas through outreach programs and additional patrols. All of these steps will better enable us to save lives and serve the community.
The Board of Supervisors has asked this same question and has challenged the experienced professionals at Animal Care and Control to ensure a single, high-performing animal welfare center will provide a better animal experience and better customer service than the two shelters the county operates currently.
As mentioned above, animal intake in Maricopa County has declined 13% every year for the past five years, and the county is meticulous in tracking intake and adoption rates. We are also listening to experts in the field who will evaluate current trends and data and consider the specific needs of our community to help us plan accordingly. The renovated central shelter will be designed to handle current and projected animal populations.
Animal Care and Control values residents in the East Valley and cares what happens to homeless pets there. We are currently looking at satellite locations in the East Valley for both adoption and intake. We will also consider increasing our field presence (animal care officers who can respond to lost/homeless animals) to limit the number of people who need to drive to MCACC to drop off animals.
Concerns about convenience and geography are legitimate for all county residents. Someone living in Surprise, New River or Carefree could make the same arguments about shelter locations as residents in the East Valley will make. However, there is no proof consolidating shelters will lead to fewer volunteers, fewer adoptions or more euthanizing of the animals in our care. The live-release rate has topped more than 90% for a year and a new facility will make sure that rate is sustainable. Experienced professionals in this industry have seen firsthand that people who truly care about their pets will drive the extra minutes to reach an outstanding facility, even in a large metro area.
Consolidating into one location will allow us to reallocate staff to services that reunite people with their pets and prevent families from having to give up their pets in the first place. We believe the overall impact for animals will be a positive one.
We expect an expanded central shelter to have more space for volunteers. That includes break rooms and lockers on site, in addition to more wide-open spaces to play with and train animals. The overall environment at a renovated central shelter will be an improvement for all volunteers, whose contribution and dedication to the well-being of homeless pets in Maricopa County is so valuable.