The Main Stream

Jul 20, 2013 1:45 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Monsoon pet overpopulation burdens shelters and rescues

TUCSON - Dog and cat breeding season is overwhelming local shelters and rescue groups.

Pima Animal Care Center hit an all-time record in their shelter this month. They say it is partly because they are holding unhealthy pets longer before euthanizing them. They have euthanized fewer animals this year than last year at this time.

Justin Gallick is their Animal Care Advocate.

"Kind of kicks everything in overdrive a little bit," he said. "The staff is definitely working a lot more. It is stretched thin."

Nonprofit rescue groups are also struggling to take care of animals. Marjorie McKellips works with Angels for Animals. She helps unwanted dogs in an area south of Tucson International Airport known as "Dogpatch." People regularly dump animals there. They have adopted out about 200 dogs in the past 4 years.

"I was amazed at what I saw when I came out here after living in Tucson for 30 years," KcKellips said, "and not ever knowing that this area of town existed."

It is a large area of land, littered from illegal dumping. People also leave dead animals in the desert.

"It's funny how the smell doesn't even get me anymore," McKellips said, "but seeing it does. I'll cry tonight."

Michael Santo started a rescue called All American Bully Buddies. He helped feed and water the unwanted animals in Dogpatch Friday evening.

"We need to comprehensively look at us as a community and see if this is acceptable to everybody," Santo said. "To me, it's not. It's going to take a group of animal advocates, of rescuers, of government agencies."

The issues at PACC and Dogpatch are both from overpopulation. To curb the problem, Pima County even pays to spay and neuter through a group called the Animal Welfare Alliance of Southern Arizona. It costs the county about $220,000 a year.

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