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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: Budget cuts kill animals, impact shelter

In 2014, Pima County approved construction for a new animal shelter that now, because of budget cuts, is unable to rescue animals.

In early April, a countywide 2 percent budget cut was initiated to all departments in attempts to keep a $23 million deficit after the state announced a $47 million cut to Arizona counties, according to Arizona Public Media.

This put strain on the already struggling Pima Animal Care Center.

Prior to construction, the old PACC’s capacity was 500 but often held up to 1,000 animals, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Over a single year, the shelter saved nearly 14,000 animals and saw about 24,000. Overcrowding, euthanasia rates, disease and genuine animal love prompted voters to approve Proposition 415 in Nov. 2014. Initially, the proposal won 59 to 41 percent.

Oppositionists, such as Ann Holden, feared that since the county has a history of mishandling money, the new animal shelter would become a waste of $22 million. Sadly, Holden was right. Before Proposition 415, PACC installed an air-conditioned expansion unit to allow the center to care for more animals and lessen euthanasia rates instead of raising adoption rates, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

The bills for this cooling expansion, which cost $245,000, have yet to be paid back. Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said that this will affect how much money the county can give the city and the center for future projects.

This hit the shelter hard, the lack of labor and money causing more and more animals to be left to fend for themselves in the upcoming hot summer streets.

Each year, Pima’s only 25 animal control officers handle nearly 30,000 cases compared to Maricopa’s 30 who only deal with 21,000, according to Tucson News Now. Huckleberry said because of money being tight, the county cannot afford to hire more officers.

This lack of labor makes rescuing even half the animals an impossible task.

According to Tucson News Now, Pima County already rejects about 4,000 to 5,000 calls every year in attempts to save money by only responding to situations in which people or animals are in immediate danger.

Arizona needs a better budget, and after months of news coverage, that is apparent. But Gov. Doug Ducey, legislators and voters need to grasp that this cannot wait. The situation is now about more than university graduates and undergraduates, our children and grandchildren, but our four-legged friends, too.

Picking and choosing leaves other animals and people at risk to be attacked or abused later on instead of having the reported animals rescued immediately, thereby avoiding future physical and mental trauma. Animal lovers are forced to decide which cats and dogs are saved; which animals will get a second chance at having a loving forever home.

Out of everything, the worst part is that this million dollar shelter, built to hold thousands more cats and dogs than its predecessor, now cannot afford to hold many at all.

The PACC doesn’t want to kill puppies or kittens, and it doesn’t want to hold them captive either. These animals deserve loving homes and the chance to have families.

It’s one thing to make the lives and academic futures of upcoming generations difficult, but it’s an entirely different matter to condemn primarily domesticated animals to a fate of scavenging, disease and street violence.

We domesticated these animals. It’s our responsibility to treat these creatures right and start adopting and fostering instead of killing and ignoring.

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Ashleigh Horowitz is a creative writing freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

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