Moving day for animal shelter dogs

30 dogs at the Pima Animal Care Center moved into a new home.

What looks like a very large party tent on the grounds of PACC, now holds 30 kennels. By the end of the month, it will house 100 kennels and 100 dogs.

Pima County is thought to be the first in the country to use a tent to help relieve pet overcrowding.

The shelter has 200 kennels but 520 dogs, which means many of them double or triple up.

The tent will help relieve the problem.

"Dogs are pack animals," says Director Kim Janes. "If the come in as a single animal and they're not used to having others around, that doesn't work well for them."

Having the dogs single to a kennel reduces potential fighting and the spread of disease he says.

Pima County leaders authorized $400,000 in general fund money earlier last year to pay for the tent.

It's the result of a county policy adopted nearly three years ago because of community outrage over the 15,000 animals that we're being euthanized annually.

That number has been reduced to 7,500 and dropping.

The goal is to become what's known as a no-kill shelter where up to 90% of the animals brought in to the shelter are adopted or released to rescue organizations.

Pima County has also adopted an aggressive spay and neuter program which will be expanded.

"I'd like our spay and neuter program which is about $300,000, I'd like to see it go up to $700,000 a year," says County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

But in doing so, he's asking other communities to help pay the cost. Only Oro Valley has said yes so far.

"We're going to make it a line item in the budget so it becomes an expense," he says. "Then it becomes predictable so every jurisdiction will have to pay their fair share."

The tent is only temporary, "we hope" says Janes.

Later this month, the Pima County Board of Supervisors will consider whether to put a bond question before voters in November for $22 million for a new animal care facility, according to Huckelberry.