In about the past month, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control records show the shelter has spayed two dogs that were about to give birth - killing 25 full-term puppies in the process.
It’s part of new MCACC director Mary Martin’s no-exceptions policy on spaying all dogs that come into the shelter. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of adult dogs that end up euthanized on a daily basis in Maricopa County.
Martin was hired by the county this past summer. A county spokesperson said the spay policy did not come up during her interview process and she does not receive financial incentives for reducing the number of dogs in the shelter.
County officials, who are Martin’s bosses, said they fully support her policy.
“County leadership accepts this as an unfortunate thing that has to happen when we have overcrowded conditions,” said Fields Moseley, Maricopa County communications director. “It's just not fair, when we're euthanizing dogs every day, to bring in a litter of 14 pups.”
But this hasn’t always been Maricopa county’s policy. In 2014, the county manager at the time put a hold on spaying pregnant animals and organized a task force to look at the issue.
Records show there were leaders from 12 Valley rescue groups tapped to serve on the Pregnant Animals Task Force. In notes from the task force, the members were split down the middle on the issue at first.
Members of that group told ABC15 that several members quit before the job was done, and only four or five ended up making a recommendation against spaying late-term pregnant animals. But that recommendation wasn’t necessarily about saving puppies that were about to be born.
“No, my opinion is, and it's fervently been this since the beginning of the task force, that we should not do late-term spays in our county facilities. They do not [have the resources] to care for and see the mother through in the end.”
ABC15 also checked with Martin’s old shelter in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A spokesperson there said they do spay pregnant animals, but under Martin did not do late-term spays.
Maricopa County officials said Martin made the decision to go ahead with late-term spays due to severe overcrowding prevalent throughout Valley shelters.
ABC15 also checked on the policy at the Valley’s other big rescue — the Arizona Humane Society said it does spay pregnant animals but not when they’re close to giving birth.