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Pima Animal Care Center's new program a "step into the future"

Posted at 10:41 PM, Sep 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-24 01:41:22-04

The Pima Animal Care Center unveiled a new program that some are calling a step into the future: the pet support center hotline. The team of three answers calls -- seven days a week -- and helps pet owners get more information and/or access to resources they may need to keep their pets healthy.

Jennifer Handlin, one of the workers, spent a few months training for her new role. And with nearly 300 calls coming in not per week -- but per day -- she says that training paid off. People call with questions about their animals, behavioral issues, health issues, and other things.

"I can't keep my dog anymore, it's jumping the fence," Handlin said is a common issue. "Or you know, a lot of behavior stuff that we're attempting to help people work on, before they use us as a last resort."

PACC's executive director of operations Jose Ocano thinks this is the direction animal shelters are going in, and need to be going in.

"The future of animal welfare is to get out of the business of sheltering," Ocano said. "And really get into the business of supporting people and helping them keep pets out of the shelter."

Describing the support hotline approach as "progressive," he feels the team is well equipped to make sure pet owners are always recommended the best and most updated resources and services. Though the services are often changing, common ones are spay-neuter options, vaccine clinics, and low cost veterinarian services.

"The services are always changing in the community," he said. "And the pet support center is always learning what services are available, so they're always the most up to date on the local resources."

As for Handlin, she's happy to help out the people -- but especially, the pets.

If you need to contact the hotline, the number is: (520) 724-7222.
It operates 7 days a week, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdaysy and Sundays.