Created in the 1960s the Pima Animal Care Center is the only open-admission shelter in the county. An open shelter accepts any animal that is taken to the shelter, no matter the age or condition.
The shelter takes in around 17,000 animals a year, and regularly maintains between 1,000 and 1,500 animals in its system, including foster homes. PACC takes in dogs, cats, bunnies, snakes, mice and even fish.
“Any animal that gets through those doors, gets a chance,” said Kristen Auerbach, director of animal services.
To keep watch over and help find homes for its animals, PACC has a staff of 100 members and 1,300 volunteers who work in the shelter and in different departments like licensing, animal care services, dog walking, clinic, adoption, fostering and pet support.
The care center is now operating in a new building was designed to help animals move through the system easier, and to keep more animals alive.
“With the old building, our biggest problem was that we had a lot of animals of rural areas, and we had a lot of disease issues and we had a lot of sick animals coming in,” Auerbach said. “And in the old PACC, we did not have a lot of isolation places and we had to euthanize just so they would not make any more animals sick.”
The new building contains isolation areas, a state-of-the-art medical suit and expanded space for kennels. The new facilities also includes an exercise area, visitation area and a “real life” room that looks like a living room where animals can take a break from the kennels.
PACC’s old site is being remodeled to house the foster and volunteer coordinators, and will house 90 kennels.
Anyone over the age of 15 can volunteer their time at PACC, and the shelter recently started a generation program where kids from 10 to 14 years old can join their parents or legal guardian to volunteer.
Bonny Jagt, volunteer program specialist and assistant to the volunteer coordinator, began as a volunteer herself and joined the staff a few months ago.
“When I was a volunteer the coordinator back then lit a fire under me,” Jagt said. “And that is what I try to do when new volunteer to comes in.”
Incoming volunteers have to go through orientation where they are taught about the background of PACC. Volunteers are required to work a minimum of six hours a month.
The shelter also maintains partnerships with different other rescue facilities around the county, like Little Bit of Love, Humane Society and Pima Pups for Life.
PACC receives donations from national organizations like PetSmart Charity, Petco Foundation and Maddie Funds Family Foundations.
With all the help from donations, grants and volunteers, 90 percent of PACC animals find their way to a new home.
Auerbach said improvements at the center will continue and the organization works to implement new ideas, including a program to microchip for animals in underserved communties.
“We want to make our community proud, and we want them to know that our mission is not just to help homeless pet is much bigger than that is to help pets and people at Pima County,” Auerbach said. “To help people find their missing pets but also to help them find their new family members.”
Find more information online at webcms.pima.gov/government/pima_animal_care_center or by calling 724-5900. The animal care center is located at 4000 N. Silverbell Road.
Maria Angulo is a Northern Arizona University journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.