/ Modified apr 10, 2020 4:47 p.m.

Pima Animal Care Center preparing for influx of pets as outbreak takes toll on owners

The center is still facilitating pet adoptions by appointment only.

As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches peoples’ budgets, Pima Animal Care Center anticipates an influx of pets surrendered by owners who can’t afford to keep them.

“Already we’re getting calls from people who can’t afford to buy food for their pet next week. So we have our pet support center here and we’re here to help those folks as well,” said Kristen Hassen, director of animal services at PACC.

In response to the crisis, PACC suspended walk-in visits and is now offering essential services like adoptions and emergency surrenders by appointment only. Of the more than 1,200 pets currently available for adoption, more than 90% are staying in foster homes. Hassen called the community’s help unprecedented and that it comes at a crucial moment.

“We know thousands of animals are going to need our help over the next few months. And we’re also going to have to house pets whose owners are hospitalized or who, in the worst case possible, die from coronavirus,” Hassen said.

PACC said pet owners should have a plan in case they contract the disease. Hassen recommends they designate someone who can watch their animals and supply them with enough food and medicine for two weeks. They should also leave written instructions about how to care for their pets.

“None of us think we need a microchip until our pet gets lost and it’s the same thing with this,” Hassen said.

Over the next 60 days, Hassen said PACC expects more than 4,000 animals will need its services, underscoring the ongoing need for foster homes and donations. The center’s website includes information about how to help.

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