NewsArizona News


County animal shelter changing operations due to COVID -19

Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
Posted at 4:47 PM, Apr 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-06 19:47:57-04

Just like so many other businesses around the country, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control has had to change the way they are operating, due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

Shelter director Mary Martin spoke to us by video to explain the changes that are now in effect.

Martin said the shelter was housing 126 dogs on Monday, but the biggest changes you will see there is the lack of volunteers.

"For us, our number one priority is trying to protect our staff," said Martin.

In terms of the public, the biggest changes right now are the lack of some services.

"Consequently we're not doing owner surrender as an example. We are not doing licensing and vaccinations, some of the things that are important but not emergencies," said Martin.

She explained that the shelter was also not taking in stray dogs or owner-surrendered pets right now.

"Stray animals are not emergencies. It's painful I know, people think they're going to get hurt and sometimes that can happen, but we have to protect our team at this point," said Martin.

Another big change was the temporary closure of the East Valley shelter. All the animals from that shelter had been transferred to the West Valley headquarters. This move has created some concern in the community, with some volunteers questioning whether the East Valley shelter will ever reopen.

"It's absolutely temporary. It's giving us a great opportunity to do some needed repairs and deep cleaning," said Martin.

She said she was amazed at the outpouring of support the shelter had received from the community. More than 200 animals are being fostered by valley residents who have opened up their homes. Many of the animals are also being boarded at Heidi's village.

Martin said due to having fewer animals at the shelter their behavior teams had been able to work with those pets considered a "behavior issue" and re-classify many of them.

"Many, many dogs are getting out of here that never would have perhaps. They've been sitting here for months some of them," said Martin.

ABC15 asked Martin how the shelter was functioning without the hundreds of volunteers who do some much work there, from walking dogs to cleaning, and feeding the animals.

"Well we have reallocated staff to do the jobs that volunteers have done..the volunteers are very much missed -- and I know they're anxious to get back," said Martin.

The shelter is still open for adoptions but staff asks you make an appointment online. They have chairs set up outside for those who want to drop in and visit.

To schedule an appointment or to sign up as a foster visit their website.