(Viewpoint) Mega Animal Shelter Won’t Serve East Valley

Opinion Column

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Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC) will be closing its East facility in Mesa in 2019 and there are no plans to build a new one. Sadly, most citizens of the East Valley aren’t aware of this issue or its impact.

Maricopa County wants to consolidate services into one mega-shelter for animals to be built at 27th Avenue and Durango and the County Board of Supervisors expect this new facility to serve the entire Valley.

As one of the volunteers of the East Valley shelter, it seems shocking that centralizing shelter services into one location would even be considered when, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, our Metropolitan area is the fourth largest in the country (4,307,033 population) and the Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale has the fourth largest gain (adding 89,000 people) of any metro area in the US. We also know how much sprawl the Valley faces – which makes travel from one location to the other increasingly difficult.

The commute time for East Valley residents to travel from 30 to 45 miles or more – one way – through Phoenix traffic (3 hours by bus, one way) to surrender their animal, consider adoption or to volunteer – seems unlikely.

The commute burden will: (1) hinder East Valley residents’ from turning in lost dogs, therefore dogs will either be kept or turned loose back on the streets. (2) make it difficult for people to go to a far west location to look for their animals (providing that their animals make it there, at all).  (3) find Animal Control Officers spending most of their shift driving and less time in the field picking up animals (4) be prohibitive to adopters, driving them to Craigslist and backyard breeders. And finally, (5) create the loss of a dedicated force of Volunteers from the East Valley, critical to managing a facility of this magnitude.

My research could not produce one other metropolitan area with this land mass and this much population with centralized shelter services. I and others are disappointed that the only option being considered by the Maricopa Board of Supervisors for the approved $18 million budget to replace the East shelter, is the consolidation of the two locations into one mega-shelter at 27th Avenue and Durango.  Deciding without any public hearings or input from citizen groups – especially those from the East Valley – since the realistic cost (as shared in a recent meeting) is expected to be more like $25 to $30 million. 

It appears there has been little effort to investigate other options in spending tax payer’s money and at the same time, making services more inconvenient for them. Candidly, this multi-million-dollar mega-shelter expenditure will serve the image and reputation of the county more than it will serve the welfare of our animal population.  

There is NO question that the MCACC East facility is no longer adequate or healthy for Maricopa County’s growing population of residents’ companion animals (in Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Queen Creek, Fountain Hills, Scottsdale, etc.).  But, there must be another answer.

Please contact your Board of Supervisors Representatives to stop this consolidation decision http://bit.ly/2pVTsq3 and sign this pledge http://bit.ly/2GQFxve which will be delivered to them. 

 

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