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Over-burdened Pima Animal Care Center needs fosters for pets, waives adoption fees

The Pima Animal Care Center, overcrowded and under-staffed due to COVID-19 cases, is asking members of the public to either adopt or commit to fostering a pet for two weeks to help empty the shelter.

About a dozen employees out of the 100 at the county-run animal shelter are out due to COVID positive tests or recent exposure, officials said.

Shelter officials also are asking people to avoid surrendering healthy pets, following the guidance provided by the National Animal Care and Control Association, which is advising animal shelters to take reduce the intake of animals to mitigate the short- and long-term effects of COVID-19.

Adoptions will continue at PACC, and animal protection officers will continue to answer high priority and emergency calls, said Monica Dangler, director of animal services for Pima County. Those calls include responding to injured or sick stray animals, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, as well as dangerous and aggressive dog complaints.

“We’ve been at capacity since June and now we are hitting a critical low in staffing due to the contagiousness of the Omicron variant,” Dangler said in a news release. “Like many other businesses right now, we are seeing staff members getting sick despite being vaccinated, so we need to drastically reduce the number of pets in the shelter to be able to provide proper care.”

PACC has "shifted staffers to make sure all emergency areas are 100-percent covered," said spokeswoman Nikki Reck.

"What we really need is folks who can foster or adopt medium to large dogs," Reck said.

There are seven ways people can help the shelter, officials said:

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1. Fosters needed: The shelter is also looking for around 300 emergency fosters, who can immediately house a pet for at least two weeks. PACC will need fosters for all types of pets but housing for medium and large dogs and pets with medical issues will be most needed. PACC provides vet care, crates, supplies, and food. People interested in fostering can stop by the shelter during business hours to pick out a foster pet.

2. Adoption fees waived: Help PACC create a cushion of space by adopting a pet today. The shelter needs adoptions to continue to avoid critical overcrowding during the upcoming kitten and puppy season which will start in the next one to two weeks.

The shelter is also offering extended hours Jan. 20-22 in hopes of getting more pets into the homes of Pima County residents on Thursday and Friday from  noon to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m until 7 p.m.

All pets at the shelter currently have $0 adoption fees. There is an additional $20 licensing fee per each adopted dog over the age of 4 months.

3. Hang on to friendly strays: PACC is also asking people who find friendly stray pets to consider fostering them for two weeks until the shelter can resume normal operations. Pets typically stay close to home when they go missing, so this helps get pets home much more quickly, without having to endure the stress of the shelter. People who find strays can take the pet to a vet clinic or to PACC to check for a microchip, file a found report, and hold the pet to give the owner time to locate it. Finders can file a found report by texting “FOUND” to (833) 552-0591.

PACC is accepting emergency-only intake and is trying to keep the number of pets in the shelter as low as possible to prepare for the coming weeks of higher-than-usual intake. The shelter is asking pet owners who would like to surrender their pets to hold onto them during this outbreak, unless it is a true emergency.

“Every day we take in more pets than are getting adopted,” Dangler said. “Weeks and weeks of this has led to a shelter full of pets. It was difficult before but now it’s beyond difficult.”

4. Leave kittens alone: Unless the kittens are sick or in immediate danger, the shelter is asking people to leave them with their mothers, where they have the best chance of survival. Here is a helpful page on when kittens should be taken to the shelter.

5. Plan ahead: Pet owners are encouraged to make plans for their pets in case someone in the home falls ill. People should stock up on two extra weeks of pet supplies and identify a pet sitter who can help out if the pet owner becomes hospitalized.

The safest place for pets is in their own home, so people should be asking family members, neighbors, or friends if they could care for their pets if they happen to be hospitalized. Pet owners should write down their pet’s diet and feeding schedule, any medications they need, and other special instructions.

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6. Spread the word: People can tell their friends, family and coworkers that PACC needs adopters, fosters and donations to continue to sustain the lifesaving efforts. People can share our posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

All pets adopted will come spayed or neutered, with age-appropriate vaccinations, a microchip and a free vet visit with participating vet clinics. A $20 licensing fee will apply to dogs. PACC is located at 4000 N. Silverbell Rd.

7. DONATIONS NEEDED: People who can’t adopt or foster can make a donation to PACC’s official nonprofit partner, Friends of Pima Animal Care Center. Friends of PACC needs help purchasing foster supplies, providing emergency medical funding for sick and injured animals, and providing support to vulnerable pet owners. Donations can be made at www.friendsofpacc.org/support-us.

Most needed items are:

  • Large crates
  • 42” or larger exercise pens
  • Food
  • Leashes
  • Collars
  • Harnesses
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The Pima Animal Care Center is over-crowded and understaffed. It needs the community's emergency help to adopt and foster pets, while limiting the new drop-off of additional strays.