Until recently, if a pet owner needed to give up their pet the only option was to send the pet to an “open-intake” shelter where it could potentially end up on the euthanasia list. Now, the Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA (AAWL) is giving pet owners a new option by opening an owner surrender program.

The shelter has been taking pets surrendered by their owners on a case-by-case basis for about a year, ever since their capacity was doubled with a new adoption center.

“Our main mission for the longest time has been to save pets from the euthanasia list,” said Patti Dubois, AAWL and SPCA director of operations. “Now we are finding that there are so many owners that don’t have another plan for their dogs if something comes up in their life. We’ve started this on a very small basis for less than a year. Now, as we’ve gotten more and more requests we just decided this is a really good service we can offer the community.”

Dubois said the service is case by case because the shelter is still limited in space. Owners must make an appointment and bring the pet in for a medical exam and behavior analysis, which is the same analysis the shelter has always used to decide which pets are saved from the euthanasia list.

“Once they are accepted, we are a no-kill shelter, so they will be well-taken care of until they find a new home,” she said.

AAWL will not accept pets that are people-aggressive or pets with certain medical issues that the shelter doesn’t have the ability to treat. The service is for dogs and cats.

Dubois said the shelter has already been taking in between five and 15 dogs a week and she expects that number to grow.

“This is something the community needs,” she said. “We’ve heard so much about people who’ve had a tragedy or something that has altered their life and they want an option.”

For more information on owner surrenders, visit www.aawl.org or call (602) 273-6852.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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