dog at Pima animal care center

The Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to ask voters on the November general election ballot if they will support overhauling the County’s outdated animal shelter.

The vote comes as Pima Animal Care Center has embraced modern animal care practices that have helped to save the lives of more animals at the center, which cared for nearly 24,000 pets last fiscal year. As the only open-admission shelter in the County, Pima Animal Care Center takes all animals that present to the shelter in need.

While the live release rate has increased from 55 percent two years ago to 76 percent this fiscal year to date, it also means the Center is keeping more animals in shelter and keeping them longer while they wait for new homes. The Board of Supervisors in the fall approved the construction of a tent as a stopgap measure to reduce overcrowding and meet demand.

The proposed $22 million facility, which would help Pima Animal Care achieve industry best practices, would cost about $4 annually for the homeowner of a house at the median value of about $150,000. But County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said taxpayers should remember that Pima County is paying down general obligation bond debt quickly, at a rate of $50 million a year, so they may not even notice an increase.

Volunteer Cathy Neuman thanked the Board for its past support, but said even with the tent in operation, there are still some kennels with four or five dogs. Overcrowding means more pets get sick and are under stress, she said. “There are not many, if any, bond issues that come forward that are a matter of life and death but this one is,” she said. 

Supervisor Richard Elías said the new facility is worthy of voter consideration.

“One of the most important things we have to do here is to move to a new model of service that will be more humane and put us in the modern age of animal care,” he said. 

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