Animal shelters across metro Phoenix are at capacity or nearly full with pets needing homes.
This is typical for summer months in Arizona due in part to people finding stray dogs and bringing them in. It’s also kitten season: “the time of year, usually March until November, when shelters and rescue organizations are flooded with homeless litters from unaltered cats,” according to the Arizona Humane Society.
There are ways you can help.
The Humane Society is looking for “foster heroes” to house pets that are temporarily separated from their owners as well as people who can provide forever homes to adoptable pets.
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control is at capacity and also encouraging Valley residents to open their homes to adoptable pets. Both MCACC and AHS are offering adoption events with reduced or waived fees.
Full shelters ‘typical for this time of year’
Both county animal shelter locations are full, according to MCACC’s Facebook page. The department, which has long been plagued with capacity issues, has been approved for a “new, modern” animal shelter to replace the current one in the East Valley
Valley shelters say what’s going on now does not reflect a nationwide conversation about people surrendering pets they adopted during COVID-19 lockdowns.
“We do not have data to support that the public is returning pets that they adopted during the pandemic, which has been misleading national information,” said Monica Gery, MCACC communications officer.
“Our shelter is full because of increased intake in strays and owner surrenders, which is typical for this time of year,” she said. “We are back to pre-pandemic levels of intake and are working hard at getting pets out through our adoption, foster and other placement with our partners.”
Last year, Bretta Nelson at AHS told The Arizona Republic, “We are more times than not struggling to keep up with the numbers of animals needing our help.”
“I would say there are approximately nine months out of the year that we have to get really creative with our capacity efforts, whether that is hosting an adoption special, putting out a special plea to our Foster Heroes or reaching out to our rescue partners,” Nelson said.
Free and low-cost pet adoption events
As the agency has done in the past — as recently as May — Animal Care and Control is hosting a free adoption event to encourage families to adopt and “#EmptyTheShelters.”
From Wednesday, June 2, through Sunday, June 6, adoption fees for animals older than 5 months will be waived at the county’s shelters in Phoenix and Mesa thanks to a sponsorship from the Bissell Pet Foundation.
“All pets go home spayed/neutered, microchipped and vaccinated, and dogs get their Maricopa County license tag,” reads MCACC’s Facebook event.
See the adoptable pets at maricopa.gov/214/Adopt-a-Pet, which is updated every few minutes. Reservations are recommended and can be made through mcaccappointments.as.me/adopt. Walk-ins can be accommodated if there are no-shows.
Here are the times and locations:
- West Valley Animal Care Center: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 2700 S. 27th Ave., Phoenix. 602-506-7387, maricopa.gov.
- East Valley Animal Care Center: Noon-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. 2630 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa. 602-506-7387, maricopa.gov.
Adopt a dog for $25 this weekend
The Arizona Humane Society has a $25 adoption special for dogs 1 year old and older through Sunday, May 30. Appointments are required and can be made at azhumane.org/adopt.
“AHS is currently caring for more than 1,100 pets within its shelters and AHS Foster Hero Homes. The adoption special will help clear much-needed space for AHS’ field operations team to continue to bring in the Valley’s most vulnerable pets — the sick, injured and abused,” reads the organization’s Facebook post.
“All pets are spayed/neutered, microchipped and current on all vaccinations. Adopters will also receive a bag of Hill’s Science Diet food, free pet insurance for 30 days and a free follow-up veterinary exam with VCA Animal Hospitals.”
Here’s where to adopt from the Arizona Humane Society:
- Nina Mason Pulliam Campus for Compassion: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. 1521 W. Dobbins Road, Phoenix. 602-997-7585, azhumane.org.
Pet owners are ‘reaching out in need of help’
The Arizona Humane Society is looking for temporary foster parents for animals whose owners have been affected by the pandemic and seek help from the organization’s Project Home Away from Home program.
The program is for “families experiencing a crisis that will result in the need for long-term (typically 30-90 days) care of their pets.”
Applications for the program doubled through March and April, with the number of those pets needing temporary homes tripling, according to AHS.
Seven Arizona animal welfare organizations anticipated this increased need for help due to housing insecurity and came together to create the Pet Housing Help AZ Task Force. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium protects Arizona renters through June 30.
Keeping owners and their pets together ensures more space inside shelters.
“Efforts to keep pets and their people together include expanded owned animal foster programs, increased surrender prevention options, increased collaboration with human and health service agencies and a specialized website — www.pethousinghelpaz.org,” reads a press release.
Though there have been success stories of pets and owners that have been reunited, “The Pet Housing Help AZ Task Force animal welfare partners are definitely seeing an increase in pet owners reaching out in need of help due to impending evictions,” said Bretta Nelson at AHS.
What you should know about fostering pets
“Our greatest need overall is still foster heroes who can take in large dogs and potentially have no other pets in their home,” Nelson said. “Right now we have approximately 50 pets enrolled in our Project Home Away from Home Program.”
Fostering requirements include:
- Must be 18 years or older, live in metro Phoenix and have no felony convictions or misdemeanors related to drugs, theft or violence.
- Must be able to keep the foster pet away from owned animals for 10 days minimum.
- If you own pets, they must be spayed/neutered.
Nelson said there is usually a timeframe for how long a foster pet will need to be housed.
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