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  • Director explains how pets get to PACC

    By Kristen Hassen-Auerbach, Director of Animal Services

    In May alone, a whopping 1,930 pets came through the doors of Pima Animal Care Center, including 1,000 dogs and puppies and 870 cats and kittens. That’s about 64 pets every, single day! 

    Kristen Auerbach HassenHow are they getting to PACC and where are they coming from? Read ahead as we answer the top five questions we receive about how pets get to PACC and the efforts we’re making to keep some of these animals with their families. 

    How many are surrendered by their owners?

    On average, about 70% of the pets who come to PACC show up as strays. These animals have either been rescued by an Animal Protection Officer or picked up by a Good Samaritan and brought in.

    When strays come to PACC, the first thing we do is look for an ID tag and scan to see if the pet has a microchip. We’re always so happy when a pet has a microchip or license because we are able to find its owner more quickly! The other 30% of pets who enter PACC are either surrendered by their owners or confiscated as cruelty or neglect cases by our officers. 

    What are the most common reasons people surrender their pets?

    If you have spent any time in our Pet Support lobby, you’ll know that the vast majority of people who have to give up their pet are heartbroken over this decision. They don’t want to lose their beloved dog or cat but they don’t feel they have a choice.

    The top reasons for surrender are: inability to find pet-accessible housing; unable to afford medical care for their pet; unable to afford food or other supplies; the pet doesn’t get along with another animal or person in the home; the pet is senior or geriatric and they can’t care for it in old age; or they simply have too many animals. 

    What happens when someone wants to surrender a pet they own?

    PACC is the only organization in Pima County that does not charge a surrender fee. When someone contacts us to surrender a pet, we make a determination as to whether it’s an emergency surrender (e.g. someone has a puppy with a critical injury who will die without care) or an appointment surrender (someone is moving and cannot keep their pet).

    If it’s an emergency, we ask the person to bring the pet in immediately and the cat or dog is often rushed back to the vet clinic to receive lifesaving care. In non-emergency situations, PACC Pet Support telephone counselors ask the owner to tell them about the particular pet and situation. They talk with the owner about alternatives to Dog at PACC play groupsurrender, and if the owner wants to proceed with surrender, they make an appointment for the owner to bring the pet to PACC.

    The appointment is scheduled within seven days of the owner calling. Once the owner brings the pet to PACC, they share why they have to give up their pet and the counselor may offer resources to help the owner keep their pet if they want to. 

    What is ‘Keeping Families Together’?

    Many times, people bringing in their pets to be surrendered don’t want to give up their pet, but they are in a crisis. The owner may need to have a medical procedure done with no one to care for their pet. The person might not be able to find a place to live with their pet or the animal may have a treatable illness or injury, but the person has no money to see a vet.

    The Keeping Families Together fund, established by the Friends of PACC, can sometimes offer support for pet owners facing immediate crisis so they don’t have to surrender their pet. It helps keep animals out of the shelter and with their families. 

    What do you do if you are full and have no space to put new animals?

    As an open admission shelter, PACC’s doors are open to help any animal in need. We often operate at capacity with 1,500 or more animals in our care, with around 700 in our facility on any given day. When we are full, we are honest with people who bring in pets and ask for their help in finding homes for them. Many of the people in our community who find stray pets become their foster families, housing the pet they found and even helping it to find a new home!

    However, even when we are at capacity, we never stop taking in pets. Each day of the year, 30 to 120 new pets arrive daily. About 25% of those animals have immediate medical needs. Because of this our adopters, fosters, rescue partners and volunteers are the most important components to helping us find homes for 90% of the pets who enter our care. 

    This year, PACC is on schedule to take in more than 18,000 pets. Because of our amazing, animal loving community and our countless partners, PACC is able to be a safety net for stray and surrendered animals who have no other place to go. With the help of volunteers, fosters and rescue partners, and generous donations to the Friends of PACC, we’re working this year to provide the resources and support to keep more pets with their families.
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