ELEVEN MILE CORNER — With more than 300 dogs currently kenneled at its animal shelter, officials say Pinal County Animal Care and Control is “busting out of the seams.”
Twenty-two dogs, including Chihuahuas, pit bulls and other breeds, were brought into the county animal shelter on Monday, said Audra Michael, director of Pinal County Animal Care and Control. Another nine dogs were brought into the facility by early afternoon Tuesday.
“It’s definitely a higher than normal number of owner-surrenders,” Michael said. “On a normal day, we get anywhere from two to 10 dogs being brought in by their owners.”
So far this year, 662 dogs have been brought into the shelter and surrendered by their owners.
“It’s mostly adult dogs,” Michael said, “and pit bulls are the most common breed brought in.”
She said people give a variety of reasons when bringing an animal to the shelter such as moving or no longer being able to care for a pet.
“Moving is the number one reason why people surrender a pet, but some people bring in dogs they say are strays,” Michael said.
Among the 22 dogs brought to the shelter on Monday, seven Chihuahuas reportedly belonged to one owner who had died.
The county animal shelter can comfortably house 170 dogs. But with 300 canines currently in the shelter, many animals are being kept two or more to a kennel. About 35 dogs are housed in outside kennels.
“We don’t like keeping dogs outside in the summer, but we do everything we can to keep them cool including using ice packs and hosing them down,” Michael said.
Overcrowding and the higher numbers of dogs being brought in prompted shelter officials to make a plea Tuesday on Facebook, seeking homes for animals.
“Help! We had 22 animals come in yesterday. Almost all were owner surrenders,” Pinal County Animal Care and Control posted on its Facebook page. “We are busting out of the seams with dogs — please consider adopting or fostering.”
Michael said shelter officials work hard to find homes for all animals including those brought in by owners and those caught by animal control officials.
“We do the best we can to find a home for every single animal,” she said.
Of the 3,330 dogs and cats brought into the shelter this year — either through owner surrender or by animal control officials, 694 dogs have been adopted and 159 were humanely euthanized. Of the cats, 117 were adopted and 26 were euthanized.
The agency also works with various rescue organizations and animal-care agencies to move dogs and cats from its facility to other shelters.
Valley Humane Society, a nonprofit, non-governmental animal shelter in Casa Grande, said it too sees an uptick in people surrendering their pets in the summer.
“We can’t explain why there’s an uptick in the summer,” said VHS board President Deb Woodard. “Shelters all over the country are overcrowded with surrendered and abandoned pets. Most of the problem stems form people not spaying and neutering their pets.”
While the VHS shelter is also usually full, when it does have an opening, the organization usually accepts transfers of animals from the Casa Grande or Pinal County animal shelters to prevent dogs and cats from being euthanized.
“Our animal care coordinator (Andi Lamb) brought back six dogs today (Tuesday) including one who was on the euthanasia list. Whenever Pinal is in need, we do all we can to help them,” Woodard said.
To encourage area residents to consider adopting a new pet, Pinal Animal Care and Control has lowered its adoption rate to $25 for dogs that have been at the kennel for more than seven months. The fee includes license, vaccinations and sterilization.
The county’s adoption fee for adult cats is $10.
There are currently eight puppies at the Pinal County animal shelter. The adoption fee for a puppy is $140.
While shelter officials hope to find permanent homes for the animals, Michael said there are other ways people can help.
“People can foster a dog for a while,” she said. “We also accept donations, and we ask that people visit our website and share our page to see the animals we have that need a home.”
Michael said she is encouraging people to reconsider surrendering an animal until the kennel population is lower.
“If people can’t wait, we ask that they at least call the animal shelter first, before bringing an animal in,” she said.
The phone number for Pinal Animal Care and Control is 520-509-3555.