TUCSON, Ariz. — Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) is rolling out new pilot services to help people keep their pets at home, especially during the pandemic.
“I think that the kind of reason has happened now is because of [COVID-19.] These were all programs that we were putting into place, we were putting into place years ago, but because of [COVID-19], we had to speed everything up because we know that at this time more people are going to be facing struggles to keep their paths," said Kristen Hassen, Director of Animal Services of Pima Animal Care Center.
PACC said their goal with the new program is to have between 5,000 and 6,000 people keep their pets at home rather than re-homing them.
Typically if someone can’t keep their pet, local shelters, like PACC, help find them a new home, but with the new pilot programs in place, PAAC is focusing on keeping those pets with their owners.
Whether it be by providing food to struggling pet owners, boarding a pet for a few days while the pet owner decides what their next steps are or connecting owners with behavioral resources for their animals.
"Maintaining those pets in a community and one key way we're doing that is through foster homes so if we have an animal now that comes into our system, it's likely to sit here for one to three weeks before going to a foster home, the programs that we're piloting mean that we have a foster on deck waiting for that animal so it comes in, it gets its vaccines, it's going to go right back out to foster,” explained Hassen.
The program is entirely funded through grants and donations.
As for what they see happening with the additional services down the road. Hassen said in the next three to five years, they will have half the number of animals in the shelter but will serve just as many in the community.
“Even in the best shelters. It's a scary place for an animal and it, it means that the person who loved an animal never gets to see it again, typically and so this changes that and so we're trying to move to the safety net in many ways into the community instead of in the shelter,” said Hassen.