Wanted: ‘Forever’ homes for dogs, cats at overcrowded Maricopa County shelter

A pit bull mix waits to be adopted at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in south Phoenix. (Photo by Devon Cordell/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – A cacophony of barking greets visitors at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in south Phoenix.

The cages and pens are packed with dogs and cats, according to the county.

Marcela Taracena, spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter, said about 750 animals are at the shelter. About 100 animals are brought to the shelter every day. (Photo by Devon Cordell/Cronkite News)

Marcela Taracena, a county spokeswoman, said the shelter’s two locations, in south Phoenix and the East Valley, have more than 750 dogs. She said dogs are coming into the shelter faster than they can be adopted.

Volunteer Shannon McHugh said the shelter hosts multiple adoption events where fees are lowered or even waived. The fee to adopt dogs older than six months old and kittens younger than six months old is $20; the fee is waived for cats older than six months. Dogs that are six months old and younger can be adopted for $100.

“You’ll never see a dog over $100 at our shelter,” Taracena said. “The shelter has really great adoption pricing, which helps encourage people to come out.”

The shelter takes in nearly 100 animals every day and more than 35,000 dogs and cats every year, according to its website.

Maricopa’s animal shelter cannot turn away any surrendered pets, Taracena said. As a last resort, animals are euthanized to combat overcrowding.

Dogs at the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control shelter in south Phoenix. Shelter officials said the shelter’s two locations are overcrowded and encourage people to adopt dogs and cats. (Photo by Devon Cordell/Cronkite News)

In a 2015 county report, 23 percent of the 36,000 animals at the shelter were euthanized, a decrease of 18 percent from the previous year and a 67 percent drop compared to five years ago.

Sharonda Askew went to the shelter Monday to adopt a new “fur baby,” a pit bull named Marco.

“I love it here. I think they do a great job,” Askew said.

Marco’s adoption was especially welcome – the shelter is overpopulated with chihuahuas and pit bulls. Landlords for rental properties often restrict pit bulls because of their perceived hostile nature, Taracena said.

The county shelter encourages people to take a look at the dogs, either to adopt them or to just play with the dogs, who need attention and affection. Go to the shelter website for a list of adoptable animals.

Taracena said county-shelter workers have a saying: When you adopt a pet you save two lives.

One life is the pet you take home with you.

The second life is the animal who takes the other’s place at the shelter and now has a chance to find a forever home.

(Video by Judson Tomaiko/Cronkite News)