The public relations coordinator for the Arizona Humane Society said that the shelter does not take euthanasia lightly but sometimes it is inevitable.
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Kelsey Dickerson said that the shelter tries to provide animals with a second chance at life before deciding to euthanize.
“Sometimes they are too far gone to be saved. Sometimes the quality of life is not going to be there. And sometimes there are behavioral aspects as well,” she said.
Dickerson said there are two main factors that go into deciding when to euthanize the animals: their health and their behavior.
The Arizona Humane Society has a trauma hospital for animals as well as a team that works on behavioral issues.
Dickerson said that the focus has to be on keeping the community safe when looking at an animal’s behavioral issues.
“If there is a pet that has lived its whole life on the streets and it is aggressive or maybe it is shutting down, the behavior team will try to work to see if the pet needs to be an only pet and it is going to be okay in a home by itself, or if it is truly a danger to itself and others,” she said.
Although she could not provide an exact number, Dickerson estimated the number of animals euthanized last year was 4,000.
“We care for about 18,000 pets and I think almost 14,000 is the amount of animals that we adopted out last year. So you can do the math there,” she said.
The Arizona Humane Society also has a field operations team, which consists of emergency animal medical technicians and cruelty investigators.
Dickerson said this team works every day of the year to find sick, injured or abused animals and bring them into the shelter.
“If it is a serious case where an animal needs immediate medical attention, then they will be brought right to the Humane Society. But, if it is something like a broken bone, then the trucks will keep going until they are full and then come back,” she said.
Dickerson said that the shelter is unlike others because it mostly focuses on the sick, injured and abused, only providing care for the healthy when there are enough resources and space.
A volunteer coordinator for the Arizona Humane Society said that she thinks the shelter differs from others because of its mission and values.
Laura Urzua said she organizes volunteers and makes sure they are trained properly before helping with the animals.
Urzua said she believes the Arizona Humane Society does a good job bringing animals and people together.
“Incorporating people and pets is pretty important,” Urzua said.
Another service the Arizona Humane Society provides is foster care.
People who are unable to care for their pets for a certain amount of time have the option to let the shelter foster them out.
Some healthy animals that were once sick or injured are also put into foster care before being adopted.
A medical technician for the foster department said that there is never a dull moment at the shelter.
Manny Guerrero has worked with the Arizona Humane Society for two years.
His job is to make sure that the sick or injured animals that were sent out for treatment are healthy once they come back.
Guerrero said a key part of the organization’s impact is its ability to help low income families.
“We are able to care for people that are in need of having to place their pet for just a time being. We are able to provide foster time for their pets. A lot of families are going through a lot of difficult times, so they reach out to us and we are able to provide that,” Guerrero said.
Dickerson said that the end goal of providing all of these services is for the animals to have a good quality of life.
“You just can’t save them all. We try our best. We never euthanize a pet for space or time. But if it’s a danger to society, or if that pet is just too far gone, then we’ll have to let them go,” Dickerson said.