Maricopa County Animal Care & Control reports 'budget shortfall' amid busy shelter season

Posted at 6:40 AM, Jun 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-24 22:13:54-04

Budget cuts are worrying animal lovers and causing staff issues for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

Multiple concerned viewers reached out to ABC15 in response to what they described as a mass firing at the shelter on Thursday.

MCACC Public Information Officer Melissa Gable said Friday morning that while there were staff changes, "the more than likely incorrect."

Gable says three employees on probation were let go, eight employees had positions eliminated other vacant positions were also eliminated. These changes were made due to "a budget shortfall" and a need to "realign staffing sources".

"I myself was in tears with a couple of them yesterday, it's not an easy thing to be going through right now," said Gable

Employees let go were reportedly encouraged to apply for other positions at MCACC, and Gable also says three new positions were created. 

"If they are interested and qualified, it is our hope to get these people back to work in new positions by the end of next week," Gable said in a statement.

Current staff have stepped up to work in the New Hope rescue program so it will not be affected.

"For the next week we're going to be a little short staffed, we need to have current employees put in overtime, and work harder take on additional duties," added Gable.

Still, animal lovers are concerned with even fewer staff members during such a busy animal season. 

In late May, MCACC reported overflowing kennels, with the busiest time of the year -- July 4th -- yet to come.

Citizens for Animal Welfare Society is a shelter management group that specializes in modernizing shelters. They, along with several others, placed a bid to take over some operations at the shelter but were turned down. 

Sam Basso, the founder of the group said they're hearing concerns from rescue groups in the community.

"This stuff looks rash, doesn't look planned doesn't look like the way forward. There's no hope in it. People are scared, we're here to say it doesn't have to be that way," said Basso.

"The concern is there's going to be a complete blood bath because they don't know what they're doing and where they're going.  Believe me, I've talked to the rescue communities.  Everybody is scared that's what's going to happen," said Basso.

ABC15 took these concerns straight to shelter management.

"No this isn't going to affect the number of animals that are euthanized. Staff is still going to step up and do what they can to help. We hope that even though this has been a bit of shake up, we're still hoping rescue communities will come in, and still take animals that are at risk so we can save even more lives," said Gable.

Basso said he wants to know how the shelter is planning to re-structure itself.

"If they're running a deficit tell me how they're going to save more animals, versus less animals, I don't see where it's coming from," said Basso.

MCACC says they are still working to lower euthanasia rates, but overcrowded shelters can make hitting that goal difficult.

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