County approves tent expansion for Animal Care Center

2013-11-06T00:00:00Z County approves tent expansion for Animal Care CenterBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A massive tent, lined with heated kennels, will soon be the temporary home for some dogs housed at Pima Animal Care Center.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously signed off on an emergency measure to erect a semi-permanent 120-by-60-foot tent next to the current facility at 4000 N. Silverbell Road to ease chronic overcrowding.

Plans for the temporary facility call for a concrete floor, as well as a heating and cooling system for the animals, to be built in the next few months. It will cost about $400,000.

The shelter’s general manager, Kim James,  said the overcrowding the center has been experiencing over the last few months is directly tied to an effort to euthanize fewer animals.

Volunteers attending the board meeting Tuesday described day-to-day conditions to the supervisors, noting the sheer number of dogs at the center has led to staff members putting as many as five dogs in each of the kennels.

Crowded kennels has led to frequent fights, they said, as well as some dogs going unfed for days as their kennel mates steal their meals.

Volunteers walk individual dogs during the day, but it is generally the only time the dogs leave the kennel on a regular basis.

Some dogs, volunteers say, can stay at the shelter for months before finding a home.

The emergency expenditure will also allow the shelter to hire several additional full-time staffers.

Volunteer Jack Neuman is optimistic the new kennels and addition of more paid staffers will allow the center to offer more services in the community.

He said despite a small army of volunteers, the county-run facility has largely been in triage mode, just dealing with the day-to-day operations.

Supervisor Ray Carroll,  who recently adopted his third dog from the center, said he fully supported the temporary proposal to help ease overcrowding.

The massive tent, which would hold 100 new modular kennels, is only a temporary measure as county officials look at building a modern facility next door to the current facility, built in 1968.

The $22 million proposal hinges on the postponed county bond package, which would delay building of the facility until at least 2017.

Other long-term options officials are considering include increasing fees to pay for the spaying and neutering of more dogs and cats.

Also Tuesday, the board approved an additional $25,000 for the El Tour de Tucson bicycling event.

The decision comes shortly after the city agreed to increase its commitment to the cycling event by $25,000.

Tucson had previously approved $25,586 for the Nov. 23 event, while the county previously agreed to put up $26,063.

The cycling event recently lost its premier sponsor, University of Arizona Medical Center, which decided to give organizers a smaller amount this year.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFerguson.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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