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Maricopa County Animal Shelters Are "Overflowing" With Pets...Again

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The shelters of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control are overflowing with dogs and cats. The MCACC's solution: Give away the animals practically for free.

This is the second time in less than a month the shelters have had overflow problems.

MCACC shelters have a total of 700 kennels, but this summer, shelters across the county are being stretched beyond their means -- currently, MCACC shelters are home to 989 dogs and 156 cats.

"It's horrible right now," MCACC shelter division manager Linda Soto tells New Times. "If you go to any of our kennels there are five, six dogs in each kennel. We don't want to euthanize for space. [Animals] are still dying everyday. They could be saved by any reasonable person."

To battle overcrowding, MCACC is holding a series of sales throughout the month, practically giving away animals.

"We've got certified, pre-owned dogs," Soto says. Potential owners can go to any MCACC sponsored shelter or store, meet with a new dog or cat and then, for just a licensing fee of $17, walk away with a new best friend.

All shots, spay and neutering surgeries are included in the price.

With cats and dogs occupying every inch of free space of MCACC shelters, no one is happy officials say.

This amount of overcrowding can not only cause frustration for shelter staff, but also health problems for the animals. Illnesses like kennel cough are easily spread when dogs are stacked on top of each other. And it's when healthy dogs become sick dogs that euthanization comes into play.

Even though MCACC euthanization numbers are decreasing, and officials say they will never put down a healthy animal, Soto worries that if the animals aren't adopted and overcrowding and illness continues to be an issue, the shelters will have no choice.

"We haven't euthanized a healthy dog since 2006," Soto says. "But we're still euthanizing dogs that have treatable illnesses like kennel cough or training issues. We don't want to euthanize, and what we know is that overcrowding turns healthy animals into sick animals. And that's when we get into trouble."

Usually, shelter populations tend to "explode" during the summer due to more puppies and kittens being born. But, add to that this summer's high increase of owner surrender and MCACC shelters are left scraping for space.

Along with decreasing shelter populations, MCACC hopes these sales will change the public's attitude toward adopting adult dogs.

"A lot of people think that the only adult dogs that wind up in shelters are the ones with problems," Soto says. "But really, 99 percent of the animals in here are great pets. They just need that chance again."

MCACC sales will run through July from 11 a.m. through 5:30 p.m. at their West and East Valley shelters.

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