Delivering a Grant — and Meeting Shelter Pets — in Tucson

Lisa Walks Nina the Adoptable Dog

Petfinder Foundation Executive Director Lisa Robinson walks Nina, a Pit Bull mix, at Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson.

Once in a while, we like to deliver a grant in person. So this week we headed to one of our local Tucson shelters, Pima Animal Care Center (PACC), to present a $1,000 Summer Cooling grant. The funds will be used to install a misting system in the shelter’s meet-and-greet yards and outdoor dog runs to make both more comfortable for the pets and potential adopters.

While we were there, we also spent some time walking a few of the resident dogs — including Nina (above) — and speaking with staff and volunteers about the positive changes the shelter is making. We left feeling prouder than ever to be supporting its work.

Animal Care Advocate Justin Gallick tells us that the county-funded facility, which takes in nearly 25,000 homeless or lost pets a year, is undertaking a radical outlook shift.

“Our culture, and reputation, has for years been based on the animal-control model,” he says. “Now there’s a lot more emphasis on customer service, finding the right match and post-adoption follow-up.”

Justin with Snookums the Puppy

PACC’s Justin Gallick snuggles with Snookums, a 6-week-old Pit Bull.

The organization recently increased its live-release rate from around 50 percent to nearly 65 percent, Gallick says, adding that he expects that number to continue to rise. In the past, PACC did not have a staff member dedicated solely to increasing adoptions, but it recently hired its first full-time adoption coordinator, Ellie Beaubien. It also hired its first full-time volunteer coordinator, José Ocaño. Since February, Ocaño has increased PACC’s volunteer force from 90 people to more than 300.

When it was time for us to walk dogs, two of the shelter’s regular volunteers, Laura Hines and Kainan Jarrette, paired us with pups who needed exercise. PACC is situated next to a small lake – a rare sight in the desert! – and devoted volunteers such as Hines and Jarrette ensure PACC’s temporary residents enjoy daily excursions around the water.

Foundation Walks Dogs Around the Lake

Petfinder Foundation Senior Program Manager Toni Morgan, Robinson and PACC volunteers Laura Hines and Kainan Jarrette (from left) walk adoptable dogs.

Hines and Jarrette come to PACC several times a week to exercise and socialize dogs such as Ernie, a 1-year-old German Shepherd mix (below). Their apartment complex won’t let them adopt any more pets (they already have two cats), so the volunteering helps them get their pet fix.

“I have a very strong love for animals, and it’s nice to be part of the solution,” Jarrette says.

“It’s mutually beneficial, really,” Hines adds. “You get to do something for them but they also give a lot to you.”

Laurie and Kainan and Ernie

Hines and Jarrette with Ernie

We left excited to return to the shelter to see the new misting system installed in time to help the resident pets beat the summer heat. As Adoption Coordinator Ellie Beaubien tells us, “Our animals need it so desperately. I really can’t thank you enough!”

We’re also thrilled that PACC staffers will be attending our upcoming One Picture Saves a Life seminar in Las Vegas, where they’ll learn how to take lifesaving photos of their adoptable pets. PACC’s One Picture Saves a Life grant also includes a digital SLR camera and Photoshop photo-editing software.

Both grants are sure to help save the lives of pets such as Preston (below). We can’t wait to come back!

Preston the English Bulldog

Preston the English Bulldog is available for adoption from PACC.

See all of Pima Animal Care Center’s adoptable pets.

Help us help more pets in need.