Pima Animal Care Center has embarked upon a transformational journey to tend to the pets that come to the shelter for care.

Marana residents have played a significant role in the progress being made in the shelter.

Not so many years ago, fewer than half of the unwanted animals that came to us found homes. We knew we could do better; and indeed, the community expected us to do better. In 2012, our live release number rose to 55 percent. In 2013, it was 64 percent. With just one month left in the fiscal year, we are currently at 76 percent.

In sheer numbers, the scope of the challenge we face is daunting. We take all pets that come to us in need. For the safety of our neighborhoods and our pets, we are an open-admission shelter. We don’t close the doors because we’re too full, so we are serving roughly 24,000 pets on an annual basis.

We couldn’t do the work we do without the partnerships we’ve built and without the community’s help. That’s where you come in. A team of students at the UA Eller College of Management earlier this year performed an analysis that determined zip codes 85741, 85742 and 85743 were among the top five of most frequent adopters. It’s an impressive swath on a map, and these residents also were among the most heavily represented among our volunteer base.

Thank you for that. We are the community’s shelter, but our proximity makes us neighbors as well. As close neighbors often invite one another over for the occasional celebration, we would like to invite you to come celebrate with us this summer.

The shelter is one of 50 across the nation selected to take part in the ASPCA/Rachael Ray $100k Challenge. That’s a long title that essentially means the shelter is in a contest to save more pets than ever before. We’ve set a goal of adopting 5,000 between June 1 and Aug. 31 and have established a number of free, fun events throughout the contest, including a silent art auction on July 19 and a back-to-school event on Aug. 2.

If we win, it could mean significant prize money, with a grand prize of $100,000.

That matters. County government is responsible for many services in addition to caring for stray animals and giving them another chance at security. Because of the work we do, libraries have books, job training is available, public health is strengthened, sewer systems function, air quality is monitored, floods are mitigated, open space is maintained, capital projects are constructed and economic development opportunities are pursued.

Given all these competing demands, additional revenues help us meet additional need. Even if our goal turns out to be ambitious and we don’t win the big prize, there is never a downside in reaching and stretching, particularly if it means more animals find homes.

Last year, in another column about Pima Animal Care Center, I indicated the ultimate solution is spaying and neutering pets. A sterilized pet doesn’t make more pets. It’s that simple – and yet simultaneously difficult. It took the phrase “rescue” some time to make its way into our collective consciousness. This also will happen with spay/neuter, but driving that shift will take a sustained campaign over many years.

In the interim, the animals we have now need help now. If you can help us with our challenge, whether that means the short-term contest, the larger picture, or both, we invite you to come see the work we’re doing.  

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