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Nov 5, 2013 7:40 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Supervisors approve $400K for Pima Animal Care Center 'tent city'

TUCSON - The Pima County Board of Supervisors approved an emergency measure to provide more than $400,000 to construct and staff a new outdoor "tent city" at the Pima Animal Care Center to address overcrowding.

PACC has managed to keep euthanizations limited over the past few years. So far, the live release rate for animals brought into the animal shelter is at 72 percent - compared to 49 percent back in 2011. However, that has come at the cost of overcrowding the facility.

Jack Newman volunteers at PACC twice a week and has seen first-hand how overcrowding can add to the difficult of give the animals a fair shot at getting adopted out.

"Because there's a limited amount of space and you would have [two to five] dogs in a particular kennel -- they can end up getting sicker easier... they might not eat... their personality can change ... they can become aggressive," Newman told News 4 Tucson.

The newly approved tent expansion will increase capacity of PACC by about 50 percent.

"I think it's a step in the right direction, it's one of a multi-faceted approach that will help PACC and the community as a whole start to regain control of the situation," Newman said.

However, some argue that this measure doesn't go far enough.

"Is it satisfactory? No, it's really not," said Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias.

"What we need to do is improve the overall facilities that we have available for animal care. We've been working at it for years but the problem seems to grow exponentially," he said.

Elias also points to free spay and neuter programs as another approach to curbing the problem of overcrowding animal shelters. He said it could be funded by dog licensing fees collected through all municipalities - a practice already adopted by Pima County and Oro Valley's dog licensing.

"We've asked all the jurisdictions to increase their licensing fees by three dollars... those three dollars per license would be set aside for free spay and neuter," Elias said.

Construction of the tent will begin with the next few months and will have running water, electricity and heating and cooling. However, county officials are still considering how to upgrade the permanent facility in the future.

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