Finding a Forever Home 5

Homeless Pets Across Maricopa County Get a Second Chance at Becoming a Part of the Family

The statistics earlier this decade for Maricopa County’s homeless pet population were startling for any animal lover. Rather than accepting this grim equation, seven of the state’s animal welfare agencies decided to act. Together they formed The Alliance for Companion Animals, and crafted the Fix.Adopt.Save. initiative to fight the issue head-on.

“What makes it so unique is the collaboration between the seven groups,” says Bretta Nelson, public relations manager at the Arizona Humane Society.

“Each organization involved has sort of its own expertise, so you will have a group that is more focused on adoptions or neuters, or possibly even the behavioral and medical piece. Everybody just brings something to the table, with the ultimate goal of saving as many of these animal’s lives as possible.”

With a name such as Fix.Adopt.Save. it’s no surprise that at the initiative’s core is a three-tiered approach to helping both Maricopa County’s homeless animal population, as well as other communities throughout Arizona:

Fix- Focusing on at-risk animals and dramatically increasing low-cost and free spay/neuter services available to reduce shelter intake and euthanasia, including 22,000 free surgeries for cats and dogs whose owners cannot afford them.

Adopt- Increasing the number of adoptions by creating more retail adoption centers, and fostering more animals until they are healthy enough to be adopted.

Save- Encouraging responsible pet ownership and providing resources to the community.

With the unwavering support of the community, the impact of Fix.Adopt.Save. has been dramatic. In just three years, the county has seen intakes drop by over 30,000 and the number of euthanasias down by nearly the same amount. Better yet, adoptions are on the rise, with nearly 7,000 more kittens and dogs fostered and adopted than when the program started.

At the core of the adoption rise are a series of events throughout the year that allow some of the animals who have had to wait a bit longer to find their forever home a platform to be out in front of the public, making a strong case to prospective families looking for a fantastic pet. These events typically prove to be just the right stage for happy endings for dogs like Kane, who is a four-year-old American Bull Terrier mix that stayed three months with the Maricopa County Animal Care and Control before finding a home at an event, as well as Gruyere, another American Pit Bull mix, who was taken in by the Arizona Animal Welfare League and had to wait over seven months to find his home.

“People often question if it is a good idea to offer incentives or waiving fees at events like this,” explains Bretta. “But when talking to the community of people who come forward and attend these events, we find that they are not doing it because of the cost associated with it, but rather because of the message associated behind it. They understand that we are out there for these particular animals, and they want to help make a difference in the life of an animal as well.”

The next community event hosted by Fix.Adopt.Save. will be the 3rd Annual Pittie-Palozza on Saturday, October 15, in honor of Pit Bull Awareness month, at the West Entrance of Phoenix Metrocenter Mall.

For more information, please visit FixAdoptSave.org.