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Valley animal shelter at 'critical capacity' could mean bad news for lost animals around July 4th

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control trying to make room before July 4
Maricopa County Animal Care and Control dogs
Posted at 5:25 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 16:59:09-04

PHOENIX — After many were forced to cancel their 4th of July plans in 2020, some Arizonans may hear fireworks and celebrations starting early this year.

“As early as like Thursday or Friday," said Monica Gery, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. "It’s going to be all weekend long, so that means that pets are going to get out.“

Ian Griffin from San Tan Valley knows the emotional toll losing a pet has on a family.

“For her to go missing and then just vanish, there’s only a couple options," said Griffin. "We’re trying to stay on the positive side of the options.”

Griffin says he and his family traveled to Mexico last week for vacation and left their 9-year-old Maltese, Minnie, with a pet sitter. They had only been gone one day when Griffin says his wife got word their family dog had escaped.

"We spent two hours looking for her with the kids," Griffin said. "[We] went back Saturday and hung signs, went back Sunday and hung signs. We talked to the golf courses the businesses around there, all kinds of stuff. I think we hung around 100 flyers in two days.”

While some animals respond differently to the sound of fireworks in the sky, MCACC says it usually sends hundreds of pets into their facility.

This year, they may not be able to take in all of those lost animals.

"We have about 500 pets right now," said Gery. "We really need to get pets into homes or into fosters right now so that we can free up some space.“

MCACC says every kennel at their West Valley Animal Care Center is filled with one or more pets, putting them at critical capacity.

After 72 hours, Gery says lost pets are put up for adoption, but overcrowding can put some animals who've been at the shelter longer at risk of being euthanized.

Despite MCACC's 95% release rate, the county says they have used the method as a last resort.

MCACC now encourages residents who find lost animals to house them for three to five days, instead of driving them to their facility immediately.

PHOTOS: 20 pets up for adoption now in the Valley

"The best thing to do is go on our website and file a lost dog report," she said. "That’s actually going to put the dog on our interactive map and we can try to match it with the owner.”

The site allows residents to upload information about the animal they've located, including its last know location, to help owners reunite with their animals before going to MCACC. Each post remains active for five days.

The county also encourages those who find lost animals to check for microchips at a veterinarian's office or a nearby shelter.

“The best thing you can do is microchip your pet, have identification on your pet," added Gery. "Whether that be the Maricopa County license or some ID with your name and phone number. Those are really the best resources to get your pet home.“

To see all adoptable pets at MCACC, click here.