A Community Approach
Divide and Conquer
The Arizona Pet Project, formerly Friends of Animal Care & Control, was formed in 2001 to provide funding and support for Maricopa County Animal Care & Control (MCACC). In 2005, with 105,000 animals entering local shelters, it became clear that funding the internal needs of MCACC was unsustainable. For this reason, we transitioned to a shelter prevention model restricting funding to a voucher-based Spay Neuter Assistance Program (SNAP), in partnership with MCACC, that focused on providing funding for free spay and neuter surgeries for pets and families in low-income communities.
Despite a reduction in intake and euthanasia, Maricopa County Animal Care & Control shelters still receive more than 40,000 dogs and cats each year, and of those, an estimated 18,000 are surrendered by their owners – often due to a lack of financial resources combined with a sudden change in circumstances.
In 2017, to better serve Maricopa County’s pet owners we began offering financial and resource assistance through a shelter program called S.I.T. Stay (Shelter Intervention Team, Helping Pets Stay in Homes) to divert pets from County shelters and keep them with their loving families.
By keeping families together and preventing the surrender of pets, our efforts free up critical resources allowing Maricopa County Animal Care & Control to focus on dogs and cats who do not have families-yet.
We recognize many pet owners in our community face unexpected circumstances leading to the need to surrender their pets. In order to ensure adequate resources are available to address the highest need and directly impact our overburdened shelter system, our program is focused on the shelter level.
The S.I.T. Stay program consists of placing a trained social worker in a Maricopa County Animal Care & Control lobby to meet with pet owners at the point of surrender. Our counselor talks with families to discover the reason(s) they are relinquishing their dog or cat with the goal of keeping the pet with the people who love them most.
Hear from our Shelter Intervention counselor in the short video below.
At this time, we cannot accommodate call or email requests for financial support or services. We are happy to provide information and referrals. Please visit our resource pages for further information.
Year One Results
In the first year, the S.I.T. Stay program successfully diverted over 720 dogs and cats from entering the shelter and kept them with their loving families.
Watch Joe and Suzy’s heart-warming story, just one of the hundreds of families assisted through this program, in the video below.
Read more of the incredible stories of families and pets who have received assistance on our blog.
The Arizona Pet Project has provided nearly $30,000 in funding to Maricopa County Animal Care & Control in pet redemption fees. By helping a family cover the return to over cost:
- We send a pet home with the people who love them.
- We ensure a pet leaves the shelter spayed/neutered, vaccinated, microchipped, and licensed if they were not up-to-date on preventive care.
- We free up kennel space for a dog or cat that does not have a family yet.
- We provide funding that MCACC can utilize for their programs to care for the pets who need their support and services.
Veterinary costs to the community have increased 60% over the past 10 years and are expected to continue to rise.
There are several low-cost clinics to assist pet owners in need, but none offer free services for families in extreme financial distress.
Owner surrenders are nearly 20% more likely to be euthanized than strays.