- Animal Care and Control
- Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Maricopa County Animal Care & Control is a public animal shelter committed to finding good outcomes (current 94.8% save rate) for lost, surrendered, and stray dogs and cats. Below, you can get answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.
Animal Care Facts
We often get more than 70 animals in our shelters each day. For the vast majority, we have no information whatsoever, including medical history or knowledge of any vaccinations. Our veterinarians and technicians do everything they can to treat and rehabilitate animals in poor health, and we also partner with other non-profits in this effort. Our team monitors the animals daily to identify any developing medical issues. However, sometimes these animals come to us after their health has been neglected too long, and we are unable to save them.
Our priority is to save the life of every treatable animal, rather than provide the gold standard medical care to fewer animals while others are left untreated. Our resources are not limitless, and so if we are to rescue and treat as many animals as needed, we must steward our resources carefully. As a rule of thumb, we aim for what an animal lover of average means could reasonably provide. This means we (a) treat life-threatening conditions, (b) alleviate pain, (c) immediately treat conditions that will worsen if we do not act quickly, (d) cure conditions that will lead to long-term pain, and as resources allow we may (e) treat a non-life-threatening condition if it prevents an animal from being adoptable.
Yes. If a pet we take in has not been spayed/neutered yet, we complete that procedure before ownership is transferred to their adopter. All animals are also microchipped prior to adoption.
We often receive more than 70 animals into our shelters each day. For the vast majority, we have no information whatsoever, including medical history or knowledge of any vaccinations. Our veterinarians and technicians do everything they can to treat and rehabilitate animals in poor health, and we also partner with other non-profits in this effort. However, sometimes these animals come to us after their health has been neglected too long, and we are unable to save them.
Unfortunately, no. As a shelter, MCACC can only legally provide veterinary care for the animals that we own. This means we can’t diagnose or treat privately owned animals. Once you adopt from us, you accept responsibility as the new private owner. Furthermore, we trust that our adopters will be able to provide the lifelong care that their animals deserve, allowing us to save our resources for the countless animals that have not found their forever home yet.
Like any field, veterinarians do not agree on all things. Although we respect your vet’s opinion, we stand behind our extensive experience in the field of shelter medicine and our advanced understanding of the common shelter ailments and diseases that are not so prevalent in private pet homes.
Shelter & Operation Facts
Last year alone, MCACC responded to more than 2,000 public information requests. This is not only the law but part of our commitment to transparency. We do our best to be timely and thorough in the public records we provide.
We are always planning for the future. Some issues can be addressed immediately while others are part of long-term discussions with county leadership and the elected Board of Supervisors.
As any dog owner knows, walks and physical exercise are important to maintaining a dog’s physical and mental health. This certainly is one of the areas where MCACC needs the public’s help. The more volunteers we have, the more frequently shelter dogs can get walked. If you’d like to volunteer to help walk dogs, here’s the link to get started.
Yes, our dogs and cats receive daily enrichment while at the shelter. There are many types of enrichment provided by our dedicated staff and volunteers, including toys, edible items, scent work, etc. We are fortunate to have the support of several generous rescues and animal organizations that donate enrichment items, such as kongs, toys, and treats, etc. to keep our animals engaged. Due to the size of our animal population, we can go through hundreds of items daily and we are always looking for more enrichment that you can donate here.
Every animal is administered the core vaccines upon intake to our shelter. They continue to receive appropriate vaccine boosters and monthly flea/tick preventatives as long as they stay at MCACC. Animals are monitored daily, tested and treated for common medical issues, and if any concerns or medical issues present that are beyond our scope we raise a plea to our rescue partners to provide the animal with an appropriate outlet.
Employee & Volunteer Facts
We are currently recruiting volunteers, including those who wish to foster animals, to support both our East and West Shelters. See the Opportunity Directory for more details on each of our unique programs. As a volunteer, you will be helping us achieve our mission by assisting pets in need and serving our community. There are so many opportunities to make a difference.
Please watch this short video to see the expectations and realities of volunteering at our shelters and then review the volunteer handbook to get a better understanding of what we’re all about!
After viewing the video and handbook, to become part of the team, please complete the volunteer application here. Once we receive and approve your application, we will reach out to you to set up your orientation! We host two orientations a month, one on a weekday and one on a Saturday, to accommodate your schedule.
First, we evaluate all animals (when safe to do so) on how easily they can be handled in the shelter environment. New staff and volunteers start with Level 1 dogs, which are generally very easy to handle. As they become more comfortable and expand their skills, they may work their way up to Level 3 dogs which may be more of a challenge to handle in the shelter environment. Soon, staff will have the opportunity to get basic, intermediate dog handling classes from a dedicated training person.
It is not uncommon for turnover rates to increase during leadership transitions, but we are working to offer staff additional support since shelter work can be emotionally taxing. In addition to making sure pay matches market rates, current leadership is focused on giving staff more opportunities to grow within MCACC by learning new skills or utilizing current skillsets in new roles.
Animals that are very difficult to handle and require special care or precautions may also receive a “staff-only” level. These animals are often only available for rescue transfer and are strictly handled by highly experienced staff members during their stay in the shelter. It is our responsibility to not only save as many dogs as possible but also to protect staff, volunteers, and the public from animals that are dangerous.
Employees and volunteers are able to submit feedback to MCACC leadership via email and MCACC leaders appreciate their input.
Currently we do not have regular compassion fatigue training, but we have provided it in the past and will likely consider it again as part of a broader employee training program. We understand compassion fatigue is a real concern in our line of work, and animal welfare can be physically and emotionally taxing. We do our best to support our employees and listen to their concerns. We are very proud of how passionate our staff is about caring for the animals in our shelters and matching them with their forever homes.
Managed Intake Facts
For MCACC, managed intake is an appointment-based intake process for all non-emergency situations. Community members who find a stray dog have the option of calling the appropriate animal control agency for pick up or can schedule an appointment to bring the animal to the shelter themselves.
Like many other organizations, MCACC has an upper limit to our capacity for care. In order to maintain safe and healthy conditions for our animals and our staff, volunteers, and shelter visitors, it’s important for us to remain within this capacity limit. This does not mean that emergency situations will not be accommodated, but that our shelter becomes a last option for healthy, friendly animals that could otherwise remain within the community.
If there is a stray animal displaying threatening behavior, please call the appropriate animal control agency or dial 911 for emergency situations. Whenever there is a possibility that an animal will harm you, do not attempt to catch them. Call for help so that a trained Animal Services Officer can respond and catch the animal safely.
Healthy, friendly stray dogs are frequently reunited with their families without any involvement from our Animal Services Officers. We provide additional information on our “Lost and Found” page to assist Good Samaritans with finding a pet’s family so that our shelter becomes the last resort for getting the animal home rather than the first stop.
According to the National Animal Care and Control Association, “Recent research has shown that most dogs are found close to home and that dogs are more than ten times as likely to be reunited with their families through neighborhood-based connections versus a call or visit to an animal shelter.”
- Allows us to prepare for each animal that comes to our shelter.
- Ensures space is available for each pet as it arrives, so the community can come to the shelter knowing they will not be turned away or have an excessive wait time.
- Prevents pets from entering the shelter unnecessarily.
- Improve chances of pets reuniting with their families. While only about 17% of pets that end up in shelters get reclaimed by their families, 70% of lost dogs are found less than a mile from their home.
- Provides better quality care for the pets that do need to enter our shelter.
MCACC does not euthanize for space. MCACC euthanizes for health and behavioral issues after all other interventions have been exhausted. For several years in a row, we have found good outcomes for more than 95% of the animals who come into our shelter.
Yes. Unfortunately, some dogs are too dangerous to be fostered or adopted out to a family or may be too much of a safety risk for staff and volunteers. Animal Care and Control must balance a desire to find good outcomes for dogs with our statutory requirement to keep the community safe from dangerous animals. We work with community partners through our New Hope program to provide these animals with the additional support they need before they can be placed safely in the community.
The e-list (euthanasia list) is a list of the animals that are suffering from significant medical or behavioral challenges that merit humane euthanasia within 24 hours. State statute tells us that euthanasia should be considered to “prevent the dog or cat from suffering or to prevent the spread of disease.” The purpose of the e-list is to alert our partners and members of the community of the urgency of the specific animal's condition. We don’t want to see animals suffer, and in their condition, it is not humane to have them in a shelter environment. Euthanasia is always a last resort.
We have created a web portal that lists animals at risk of euthanasia. New Hope Partners can review this list and choose to transfer any of those animals from our shelter to their location. New Hope partners provide special medical care and/or training for behavioral concerns needed before the animal can safely and successfully be placed in a permanent home. Our Alternative Placement team also sends out regular pleas to our New Hope Partners to highlight and help save as many e-listed animals as possible. We are so grateful for this collaboration in helping us save the lives of animals needing additional support beyond what a municipal shelter can offer.