Welcome to the AZ Coyotes Insider newsletter. I generally publish stories four to six times per week. By subscribing, you’ll be supporting independent, accountable journalism. Subscribe now so you won’t miss a story.
There are more than 150 dogs at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control’s east shelter, adjacent to Sloan Park in Mesa. There are more than 450 at the county’s west-side shelter. Those numbers don’t include the dogs at scores of other shelters around the Valley.
And yet, we get tone-deaf, reality-blind stories such as this one, suggesting that there is a shortage of dogs to meet the consumer demand in America. To put it plainly, there is no shortage. There are literally thousands of good dogs in desperate need of good homes.
Many of these dogs were strays. Many were lost pets. Too many were owner-surrenders. The owners decided that they couldn’t keep the dogs for a variety of reasons, thereby abdicating the responsibility that they had assumed for those loving, feeling, innocent lives when they brought them into their homes.
How do I know these are good dogs? I met many of them, either by walking the rows of concrete and metal cages where they are housed in Mesa, or by playing with 10 of them in an exercise pen outside that badly dated and woefully under-funded facility.
My family and I volunteered at a smaller shelter in Tempe for a couple of years where we walked, fed and played with many dogs and cats. I’m sure we made a tiny impact, but it always felt woefully insufficient when we left those sad faces every day.
I told you that I had some new projects planned for this year. Fortunately, I have great friends that are equally committed to providing better lives for the thousands of homeless dogs in Maricopa County, and willing to help me organize it. I’m calling this project Desert Dogs. There’s an obvious tie-in to the Coyotes and their well-known Valley nickname. The genesis of this idea actually goes back to a piece that I wrote for The Athletic two years ago about the Coyotes and their dogs.
On Thursday, I met Coyotes play-by-play man Matt McConnell, tireless dog advocate Greg Dunaway, MCACC communications officer Monica Gery (Greg and Monica organized everything) and other staff members at the east shelter to do a video shoot with the aforementioned 10 dogs. All of the dogs that we will feature have been at the shelter at least 100 days. Here is that full roster, as of Thursday.
When dogs are at a shelter that long, it takes a mental and emotional toll on them that is easy to comprehend. Imagine what being cooped up in a tiny pen, alone, for that many days would do to you.
Compounding the problem is a shortage of volunteers to help care for and walk the dogs. Some of the dogs at the shelter hadn’t been walked for four days while we were there.
Look, I am begging you to consider adopting a dog, rather than supporting one of the puppy mills that churns out lives for profit. You can even do meet-and-greets with the dogs before you make a decision on adoption.
There are more ways to help than adopting, however. Here are some helpful links to get you started:
If you want to adopt a dog, you can view all of the adoptable dogs and get more information here.
If you want to foster a dog, there is more information here.
If you want to volunteer, there is more information here.
If you want to donate directly to MCACC, there is more information here.
MCACC is hosting the Empty The Shelters Adoption Event from Monday to Sunday. It is sponsored by the BISSELL Pet Foundation. All pets go home spayed/neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, and dogs get their Maricopa County license tag. For more information, follow this link.
You can follow Maricopa County Animal Care and Control on Twitter here.
Another helpful and important follow on Instagram is MCACC behavior manager Kim Schulze.
You have probably already read about the dire situation at Valley shelters, but it bears repeating just how overrun these facilities and many other Valley shelters are with dogs. Please consider adopting, fostering, volunteering and donating. There are so many dogs in need of your time, support and love, like Francine in the video below.