Pima Animal Care Center is seeing overcrowded conditions in its kennels and is imploring the community to consider adopting or fostering a pet.

Since July 1, nearly 1,040 dogs and cats have been turned in for sheltering, and more than 700 remain in the shelter, Kim Janes, facility manager, said during a news conference Wednesday.

"We are struggling with a challenge right now," said Janes of the overcrowded conditions.

There are 515 dogs kenneled in 217 cages, and 208 cats are in 121 cages, according to the center's records.

Strays are being turned in by the community, animal care officers are picking up animals and owners are turning in pets that they no longer can care for.

Among the top reasons that pets are being dropped off at the shelter by their owners, said Janes, are that the pet is too old or injured, the owner is moving and can't take the pet, and the pet is exhibiting behavior challenges.

Overcrowding causes stress on the animals, which can lead to illness and aggression, said Janes.

This year to date, the center has handled 23,644 animals, compared with 24,573 last year to date, records show.

Thus far, 7,023 animals have been euthanized, compared with 9,444 last year, according to records.

"If you can, foster an animal, volunteer or donate to your favorite rescue organization," said Tammi Barrick, canine director of the Foundation for Animals in Risk.

The Pima Alliance for Animal Welfare is also working to find homes for animals, Barrick said.

"Look in your hearts to help," said Barrick.

Janes reminded pet owners to spay and neuter their animals, and to find homes for their pets' unwanted litters. "These innocents need our help," he said.

The county shelter is committed to saving more pets and euthanizing fewer as much as possible, Janes said.

To help bring about more adoptions, the center is lowering the fee for the rest of the month for most animals to $13. Adoptions for special-needs animals are free.

There will still be additional fees for licensing animals that are adopted.

On StarNet: See animals available for adoption in Pima County at azstarnet.com/gallery

Worker suicide

A state Department of Corrections inmate who was assigned to work at the Pima Animal Care Center apparently committed suicide Wednesday, causing the center to close early.

The 47-year-old man was found hanging at the center, said Sgt. Maria Hawke, a Tucson Police Department spokeswoman. Investigators with the Department of Corrections took over the case. He was identified as Patrick Hoppes, who was serving a nine-year sentence for trafficking in stolen property out of Maricopa County.

The center will be open today for pet adoptions and dog licensing only. For further information, call 243-5900 or visit the shelter's website: webcms.pima.gov/government/pima_animal_care_center/

Emergency shelter

The Humane Society of Southern Arizona has opened an emergency shelter to help relieve overcrowding at the Pima Animal Care Center.

People can drop off animals at 3465 E. Kleindale Road on Mondays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m., said Teresa Truelsen, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society.

The nonprofit organization will charge a $35 fee for each dog or cat dropped off, Truelsen said.

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com