Guest Column: We must do better by animals at Pima Animal Care

2013-08-02T00:00:00Z Guest Column: We must do better by animals at Pima Animal CareJack Neuman Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Members of the Pima County Bond Committee have asked the community of Pima County to let them know what we want our money spent on.

Among the items warranting attention that might otherwise get lost in the dozens of proposals on the list are new facilities for the Pima Animal Care Center.

The Pima Animal Care Center has many things going for it: a caring staff, a dedicated corps of volunteers, new energy and, of course, wonderful pets waiting for new homes. The "save rate" for pets has improved in the last several years because of the heroic efforts of the staff, volunteers, rescue groups and the adoption support of the community.

But it also faces a huge problem that is preventing the lifesaving it is capable of. Many in the community may not know that roughly 7,000 animals were euthanized at Pima Animal Care last year. It happens every year and it will happen next year and in more years to come unless we provide a solution that will provide adequate space and medical care to keep animals from getting sick or injured.

Although PACC does not euthanize an animal because it runs out of space, that is what happens in effect. The facility was built 50 years ago, when the Pima County population was one-fourth the size it is now. Because by law it takes every animal that shows up at the door, it routinely cares for more than 24,000 animals a year. The result is that up to six dogs may be put into one small 4-by-6-foot kennel for 23.75 hours a day. A shelter is already stressful, but that just compounds the problem, leading to illness or fights. Cats similarly are kept in small cages.

Voters in 2004 approved a new facility with indoor-outdoor kennels, but that facility was full as soon as it was built, given the massive population growth this community saw in the 1990s and 2000s. Ultimately, the answer lies not just in providing shelter for animals but in making sure we educate the community and provide more spay and neuter resources.

The dogs and cats have feelings and emotions, and their lives are just as important to them as ours are to us. We must do better by them. Other communities have done it. We can, too.

Please help by completing the Pima County Bond Project survey located at www.pima.gov/bondsurvey. On Page 1, select "Public Health Facilities" and under the project titled "Public Health, Flood Control, Neighborhood Reinvestment and Government Facilities," select "Pima County Animal Care Center Improvements."

Thank you for your support and caring about the homeless dogs and cats at PACC.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Pima County is asking residents to vote for projects they'd like included in the $650 million bond election targeted for 2014. Cast your ballot to help winnow down the $1.3 billion in choices at azstarnet.com/pimasurvey

The deadline to take the survey has been extended to 11:30 p.m. next Friday.

Jack Neuman is a volunteer and chairman of the Pima Animal Care Committee.

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

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