Courtesy Arizona Humane Society

This weekend, 12 Valley animal rescue organizations will set up shop in 40 locations across Maricopa County to try to get more than 1,500 cats and dogs adopted — and all of those pets can be adopted entirely for free.

Maddie’s Fund, a national organization that promotes pet adoption, has put up $10 million this year for Maddie’s Pet Adoption Days — a nationwide event that, in its fifth year, aims to orchestrate the adoption of 10,000 pets. This will be the first year the event will be in Maricopa County.

“Maddie’s Fund is supporting our work by giving us a subsidy for each adoption we do over the weekend,” said Judith Gardner, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Animal Welfare League & Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Maddie’s Fund has worked with local organizations like Fix. Adopt. Save. and the Phoenix Animal Care Coalition (PACC911) for years to help fund adoption efforts. The subsidy is up to $2,000 per adoption.

“Everybody is circling the wagons on this one,” said Lou Murphy, president and founder of Arizona Poodle Rescue, one of the organizations involved.

She said they expect to see adoptions at a rate of four to five times the number of a normal weekend. She cites the eight groups that compose PACC911 and the 22 locations they will be setting up shop in as the driving factor. These locations will often be in a community area like PetSmart and Petco instead of animal shelters, which can be intimidating to some prospective pet adopters.

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control took in more than 41,000 animals in fiscal year 2013, and was only able to adopt out some 13,000. Fortunately, a program called “A New Hope,” which rescues animals likely to be euthanized in shelters due to medical or behavioral problems, was able to take in over 12,000 animals. Unfortunately, more than 13,000 animals had to be euthanized that year, but that figure is down 23 percent from 2012 and 53 percent from 2009. The Arizona Humane Society had similar numbers, more than 38,000 taken in, nearly 12,000 adopted, and only some 8,000 euthanized.

“A lot of that we attribute to spay/neuter efforts,” said Melissa Gable, public information officer for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

For more information visit adopt.maddiesfund.org/participants/arizona/.

Contact writer: (480) 898-6581 or tgodfrey@evtrib.com

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