Pet rescue groups across the Valley are coming together with a three-year initiative to solve the problem of pet homelessness by fixing, adopting and saving Valley pets.
Eight rescue groups, called the Alliance for Companion Animals, have come together to address pet homelessness. Through collaborative work they’ve come up with a three-prong approach they hope will drastically reduce the amount of animals in Valley shelters over the next three years.
The first prong of the initiative is “Fix.” With funding from four generous donors the alliance will provide 44,000 free, targeted spay or neuter surgeries for pet animals that have the lowest survival rate in the shelter system. Those animals include pet cats, pitbulls, Chihuahuas, certain geographical areas with high intake rates into the shelters and families that can’t afford surgery for their pets. Twelve-thousand surgeries will be awarded over the first year. The alliance also plans to spay or neuter 4,000 feral cats in the first year.
The next prong is “Adopt.” Valley shelters have been able in recent years to open adopting centers inside local malls, in the same spaces that used to house traditional pet shops. The alliance hopes to create more of those centers in Valley malls to encourage more adoption.
There will also be a greater focus on fostering puppies and adult dogs that need additional training or medical treatment before they can be adopted out.
The third prong is “Save.”
“PetSmart charities had done some polling both nationally and in this market and it focused on people’s pets and why do they spay and neuter, why they don’t spay and neuter, and where people get their animals,” said Stephanie Nichols-Young with the Animal Defense League of Arizona. “We’re trying to target our outreach to those issues. On spay and neuter we found that a lot of people don’t know there’s affordable spay and neuter clinics in the Valley… There are clinics all over the Valley and pretty accessible to anyone. I think a lot of people call one clinic and hear $500 and they don’t know that there are other options.”
Nochols-Young said they will work to make people aware that surgeries are affordable but also that anyone looking for a pet can find one in a shelter. Even specific breeds are often available.
The alliance has been meeting for years coming up with this plan. With funding from the Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona Humane Society, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust and PetSmart Charities they’re now able to carry it out. Through their meetings they’ve been able to identify what other groups are doing and who’s doing it best so the approach will be very targeted.
“Nearly 90,000 animals per year end up in shelters with too few being adopted,” said Judith Gardner, CEO of the Arizona Animal Welfare League and a member of the Alliance for Companion Animals of Maricopa County (the Alliance). “If big moments in animal welfare progress were covered in history books, this project would be included,” she said. “Never before in the Valley have we had such a comprehensive plan to tackle dog and cat homelessness, helping animals and communities in the process.”
The alliance is asking the public to take a pledge. The pledge and more information on the initiative can be found at www.fixadoptsave.org.
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