by Blake Herzog
The “dog days” of summer are being compounded at Pinal County’s animal shelter by overcrowding caused by a relentless influx of dogs and a shortage of adopters, foster homes and volunteers.
County Animal Care and Control Director Audra Michael said in June the main shelter near the Pinal County Fairgrounds east of Casa Grande had about 250 dogs and only 153 kennels available for them, a number that hasn’t changed in 30 years. Cats fare better due to the number of cat rescue groups pitching in.
“We don’t have any cats in our adoptable cat room, we have dogs in there, in crates,” she said.
The shelter has been coping with high numbers of dogs coming in from across the county since 2021, she said, but “It just feels like this year is worse than this time last year. It seems like we’re getting a lot of animals that are strays but have a microchip and their owners aren’t reclaiming them. And we’re also just getting a lot of strays.”
The shelter has maintained a no-kill status since 2018, but the sheer number of dogs there now is forcing the staff to consider euthanizing some that are potentially adoptable, as is happening at others around the country.
Michael is looking for any kind of help she can get. Volunteers largely dry up this time of year, so dogs are not getting as many walks or socialization opportunities. Many people who offer to foster dogs return the animals quickly because they aren’t perfectly behaved.
She said she wishes more owners struggling to pay for pet food or with other pet-related issues would take advantage of assistance programs the county provides.
For more information on adopting or fostering animals from the shelter call 520.509.3555 or visit www.pinal.gov/451/Animal-Care-Control or the department’s Facebook page.