by Iain Gordon
The Pima County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to allocate $401, 200 to the Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The funds were allocated in order to expand the PACC’s shelter facilities and provide additional kennel capacity. The shelter has been facing rampant overcrowding due to the recent spike in the numbers of homeless pets in the Pima County area.
“Due to the overcrowding (PACC) is not a safe-haven right now,” said Cindy Kurland, a PACC volunteer. “The fights are constant, the stress is high, you have four or five dogs (to a kennel)... and you have dogs getting injured seriously because they’re trying to eat their breakfast.” Because of limited space and resources, and under conditions rife with stress and fear, many dogs are becoming violent and hostile during their time spent in the kennels and with other dogs. The reality of what is happening behind closed doors and cages at PACC comes as a stark contrast to the traditional state of the shelter, which has for many years served as a place of refuge for homeless pets, due to the shelter’s abhorrence of euthanasia.
“Keep in mind, this is not because PACC has bad dogs,” Kurland said. “These are good, happy, healthy dogs and cats that are coming in the door, that aren’t getting the proper care because of the limited staff and (being crammed) into kennels.”
Though the numbers of homeless pets have recently risen beyond the shelter’s ability to cope, the issue of the PACC’s lacking capacity and manpower is old news in Pima County. According to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, the allocation of these funds (which are coming directly from the Board’s Contingency Fund) is not meant to be a final solution to the problem, more of an “emergency action to increase (the) capacity of the shelter.”
This was a widely-shared sentiment amongst the Supervisors as well. “This is an important step, but it’s really not satisfactory at all. We have to be honest with ourselves: this is not a satisfactory solution. This is an emergency solution,” Supervisor Richard Elías said.
Long-term solutions to the problem did begin to surface during the meeting, however. “We have since the last week-and-a-half or two weeks, gone out and... actually located a tent facility that can be purchased out of California and transmitted fairly quickly. What we’re really interested in is providing additional capacity,” Huckelberry said. “This particular action would increase shelter capacity by 50 percent, and has the capability— should we add more kennels— to increase it by almost 100 percent.”