Posted on January 20, 2022 at 11:59 a.m.
The Pima Animal Care Center, overcrowded and understaffed due to COVID-19 cases, is asking members of the public to adopt or pledge to adopt a pet for two weeks to help empty the shelter.
About a dozen of the county-run animal shelter‘s 100 employees are absent due to positive COVID tests or recent exposure, officials said.
Shelter officials are also asking people to avoid abandoning healthy animals, following tadvice provided by the National Animal Care and Control Associationwhich advises animal shelters to 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 respond to high priority and emergency calls, said Pima County Animal Services Director Monica Dangler. These calls include responding to injured or sick strays, cruelty and neglect complaints, bite complaints, and dangerous and aggressive dog complaints.
“We have been at full capacity since June and are now reaching a critical staffing level due to the contagiousness of the Omicron variant,” Dangler said in a press release. “Like many other businesses at the moment, we are seeing staff falling ill despite being vaccinated, so we need to drastically reduce the number of pets in the shelter to be able to provide proper care.”
The PACC has “changed personnel to ensure that all emergency areas are 100% covered,” spokeswoman Nikki Reck said.
“What we really need are people who can foster or adopt medium to large dogs,” Reck said.
There are seven ways people can help the shelter, officials said:
1. Foster families wanted: The shelter is also looking for around 300 emergency foster families, who can immediately take in a pet for at least two weeks. PACC will need foster homes for all types of pets, but accommodations for medium and large dogs and pets with medical conditions will be most needed. PACC provides veterinary care, crates, supplies and food. People interested in a foster family can stop by the shelter during opening hours to choose a pet.
2. Adoption Fees Waived: Help PACC create a cushion of space by adopting a pet today. The shelter is in need of adoptions to continue to avoid critical overcrowding during the upcoming kitten and puppy season which will begin in the next one to two weeks.
The shelter is also offering extended hours Jan. 20-22 in hopes of bringing more pets into the homes of Pima County residents on Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
All pets at the shelter currently have a $0 adoption fee. There is an additional $20 license fee for each adopted dog over 4 months old.
3. Hold on to friendly strays: PACC is also asking people who find friendly strays to consider hosting them for two weeks until the shelter can resume normal operations. Pets usually stay close to home when they go missing, making it much quicker to get them home without having to put up with the stress of the shelter. People who find strays can take the animal to a veterinary clinic or PACC to look for a microchip, file a found report, and hold the animal to give the owner time to locate it. Finders can file a found report by texting “FOUND” to (833) 552-0591.
The PACC is accepting emergency admissions only and is trying to keep the number of pets in the shelter as low as possible to prepare for the next few weeks of higher than usual admissions. The shelter is asking pet owners who want to give up their pets to keep them during this outbreak, unless it’s a real emergency.
“Every day we take in more animals than we adopt,” Dangler said. “Weeks and weeks of this led to a shelter full of pets. It was difficult before, but now it is more than difficult.
4. Leave kittens alone: Unless the kittens are sick or in immediate danger, the shelter asks 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 gets sick. People should stock up on pet supplies for an additional two weeks and identify a pet sitter who can help them if the pet owner is hospitalized.
The safest place for pets is in their own home, so people should ask family members, neighbors or friends if they could care for their pets if they were to be hospitalized . Pet owners should note their pet’s diet and feeding schedule, any medications they need, and other special instructions.
6. Spread the Word: People can tell friends, family and co-workers that PACC needs adopters, foster families and donations to continue supporting rescue efforts. People can share our posts on Facebook, Twitterr and Instagram.
All adopted pets will be spayed or neutered, with age-appropriate vaccinations, microchipped, and a free vet visit to participating vet clinics. A $20 license fee will apply for dogs. PACC is located at 4000 N. Silverbell Rd.
7. DONATIONS NEEDED: People who are unable to adopt or foster may donate to PACC’s official non-profit partner, Friends of the Pima Animal Care Center.
Friends of PACC needs help buying foster supplies, providing emergency medical funding for sick and injured pets, and providing support for vulnerable pet owners. Donations can be made to www.friendsofpacc.org/support-us.
The most needed items are:
- Large crates
- Exercise pen of 42″ or more
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