Introducing Admissions By Appointment

Admissions By Appointment

The Arizona Humane Society is committed to saving the lives of more animals and helping the Valley become the animal welfare community of the future.

To achieve this mission, we are advancing a strategic vision supported by our people, finances, community and facilities to solve the Valley’s pet overpopulation crisis and find wonderful forever homes for more animals.

This comprehensive approach will ensure our focus on our mission to rescue, shelter, heal, adopt and advocate for animals in need and provide compassionate care for the sick, injured and abused animals who have no one else to care for them and rely on us for a second chance at a good life.

Admissions by Appointment is a key piece in this strategic vision. It will help us better treat our customers with compassion, transparency and respect, and ensure that we are providing each pet who comes through our doors with a healthy and loving environment that offers them their best chance for success.

Frequently Asked Questions


What is Admissions by Appointment?

Admissions by Appointment is an industry-leading admissions program designed to give every pet surrendered to AHS its best chance for success by way of a simple, 30-minute intake appointment.

Admissions by Appointment marks an end to long lines, long wait times and the crowded and chaotic counter process where animals are turned over to AHS admissions with little detailed information being exchanged. Under this industry-leading admissions model, individuals will call AHS’ Pet Resource Center – an empathetic team of trained professionals who will conduct one-on-one phone consultations – and hear about options available beyond surrendering their pet that may allow them to keep their pet in their home or out of the shelter environment, opening up additional shelter space and resources that will enable AHS to better care for the sick, injured and abused pets who rely on us for help.

Should an owner determine that alternative resources do not best address their situation and want to continue with the surrender process, they will schedule a convenient appointment time that fits their schedule. During their appointment, AHS’ team, including an admissions specialist and behavioral and medical experts, will have a transparent conversation with the pet owner explaining their pet’s likely outcome should the pet be surrendered, which will help determine the best option for both the pet and owner.

We believe that the pets, as well as the owners, will have a far less stressful exchange, and most will ultimately have a better chance of getting necessary care, adapting to the shelter and finding a new home. Most importantly, Admissions by Appointment will help us save the lives of thousands of animals each year.


Why did the Arizona Humane Society move to Admissions by Appointment?

AHS has made a commitment to save the lives of thousands of more pets. This is an exciting, yet challenging initiative that requires us to take action with a sense of urgency and move beyond the status quo. We must think outside the box and look toward innovative new programs and services that help us become the animal welfare community of the future and save more lives.

Admissions by Appointment is the next step in implementing a variety of new initiatives to help us achieve this goal. We’re already giving many more dogs, cats and critters a second chance at a good life through our new Waggin’ Wheels Mobile Adoption Vehicle, which allows us to take pets on the road to adoption throughout the Valley; a kitten nursery, which provides critical care and socialization to kittens too young for adoption; and a streamlined adoption process, which makes it easier for more pets to find their forever homes.

The Admissions by Appointment process has already been successfully implemented at many leading shelters across the country and it’s saving lives. After moving to Admissions by Appointment, these shelters have experienced a decrease in euthanasia, an increase in adoptions, and a reduction in owners surrendering their pets, ranging between 15 – 30%.

Without an Admissions by Appointment process, we have no control over the number of animals that come into our daily care. We are often overwhelmed with a flood of animals that push our shelter beyond its healthy capacity and hinder our ability to provide the best care possible. The high volume of animals also leads to increased stress and illness.

The appointment process allows us to be better prepared for the number of animals we take in. Every day, we will determine how many animals we can accept without exceeding our healthy capacity, so we can provide the safest and best possible environment for the animals in our care.

During the appointment, we will also be able to gather very specific information about the animals coming into our care so we are able to determine the best outlet for them as quickly as possible.

Our goal is to end needless euthanasia and save the lives of as many pets as we can. We simply could not do that by continuing with the same intake policy we had utilized for years. Admissions by Appointment will help us better serve every pet we take in, especially those that need us most – the sick, injured and abused animals within our community who we have committed to provide care and treatment for. Admissions by Appointment will also give us the opportunity to provide additional helpful resources to individuals who desperately want to keep their pet but may be struggling so they don’t have to part ways with their loving family member.

Admissions by Appointment will help us better treat our customers with compassion, transparency and respect, and ensure that we are providing each pet who comes through our doors with a healthy and loving environment that offers them their best chance for success.

Most importantly, Admissions by Appointment will allow us to save the lives of thousands of more pets.


Why now?

Every pet deserves a good life. This passionate belief has driven AHS to serve a critical role in our community for nearly 60 years. And as we continue to rescue, heal, adopt and advocate for homeless, sick, injured and abused animals and commit to saving more lives than ever before, we must implement important changes that will allow us to provide adequate resources to every animal we take in. By utilizing Admissions by Appointment, we can be sure we do not accept more animals than we can house or humanely care for, and give each animal we take in their best chance for the great life they deserve.
What other shelters are using Admissions by Appointment?

Many leading shelters across the country have moved to an Admissions by Appointment process to better serve the pets and people of their communities. Those include:

  • Animal Humane Society (Albuquerque)
  • Oregon Humane Society
  • Animal Humane Society (Minneapolis)
  • Richmond SPCA
  • San Diego Humane Society
  • San Francisco SPCA
  • SPCA of Texas (Dallas)
  • PAWS of Chicago
  • Friends for Life, Houston
  • Capital Area Humane Society (Hilliard, OH)
  • The Humane Society of Tampa Bay
  • Connecticut Humane Society
  • Seattle Humane Society
  • Erie County SPCA


How will Admissions by Appointment save lives?

Admissions by Appointment will help us save lives by only taking the number of pets that we can properly and humanely serve given our available resources. If our resources are stretched too thin, we may not have the ability to provide a shy or fearful dog who needs a little extra help the chance to work with a trained behavior specialist before going up for adoption. This can increase that dog’s length of stay, which in turn increases the likelihood that it will become ill or behaviorally unsound. In some cases, the frustration caused by being confined for so long causes some animals to become unsafe and unadoptable, and for public safety reasons, they sadly are euthanized. This can be prevented if they are given appropriate training early in their stay so they can be adopted quicker.

In the case of cats, without Admissions by Appointment, it’s far more likely that we won’t have an open space in our often busy cat isolation medical ward for sick felines or our kitten nursery, where we can help our littlest feline friends who are still too young to go up for adoption or into foster care.

Additionally, studies from UC Davis have shown that the longer a healthy cat stays in a shelter, the higher the chances they will come down with upper respiratory infections (URI). In some cases, these cats will be unable to fight off the infection and are humanely euthanized if URI persists. Shorter length of stays keep cats healthier thus reducing this outcome.

Sadly, in Maricopa County, only one in three cats who enters a shelter finds a forever home, and without Admissions by Appointment, that is unlikely to change. Admissions by Appointment is a key step in helping us give more cats a chance at a happy life.


How will Admissions by Appointment increase adoptions?

By providing appropriate resources early in a pet’s stay, we prepare them more quickly for adoption, which reduces their length of stay. That ultimately opens up additional kennel space for more pets to more quickly reach our adoption floor and find their forever homes.

Last year, 11,920 dogs, cats and critters were adopted into loving new homes – an increase of more than 600 over the prior year. Through an Admissions by Appointment process, we believe we can help even more pets find their forever families.


How will Admissions by Appointment benefit pet owners?

Admissions by Appointment will allow pet owners to receive the high-quality service and critical attention necessary to make the most informed decision about their pet’s future.

Prior to their appointment, pet owners will have a private, one-on-one phone consultation with one of our trained Pet Resource Center specialists. We’ll be able to gather important information about their pets, discuss any problems they may be having and provide helpful resources that may allow pet owners to keep their four-legged companions in their homes.

If the owner then determines that surrendering their pet is the best available option, they will be able to schedule a convenient appointment time that fits their schedule, allowing them to avoid long lines, extended wait times and the chaos that can exist when surrendering a pet through a walk-in process.

During the 30-minute appointment, each pet will receive a behavior and medical evaluation, and owners will be informed of likely outcomes should they continue with the surrender process. This transparent conversation will help owners determine what is best for both their pets and themselves.

We’re confident Admissions by Appointment will help many pet owners save time, money and heartache while we save lives.


What services will you offer owners who may be struggling to keep their pets?

Our goal is to help pet owners keep their furry friends in their homes if at all possible, and we’ll work hard to ensure that those struggling to hold onto their pets have a variety of different resources to help them through difficult situations.

For owners experiencing behavioral problems with their pets, we provide dog training classes and a library of online behavior tips and can suggest training options. We also provide affordable spay/neuter services at our public clinics. Spaying/neutering your pet can often have a positive effect on your pet’s behavior and can make your pet less aggressive and less likely to roam.

Pet owners who are having a difficult time affording the cost of care for their pet can take advantage of our affordable veterinary services, as well as our vaccination specials. They can also shop at our Sunnyslope Thrift Store, which sells reduced-price food and supplies. Additionally, we offer a listing of pet food pantries.

For owners who are moving or have lost their home, there are a variety of services and pet-friendly housing options available.

For military personnel who are being deployed for a tour of duty, our Project Active Duty program allows those protecting our country to leave their pets in the care of an AHS foster family during their deployment and then reunite with their loving furry friend upon their return.Project Safehouse provides temporary foster care for the pets of individuals entering a domestic violence shelter and Project Assist offers foster care for pets of those who are hospitalized or in an emergency situation.


What happens to a pet that is not suitable for adoption?

By moving to an appointment process, we will be able to gather medical and behavior history for each pet prior to their arrival at our shelter. We can then discuss any potential issues that may result in a pet being unsuitable for adoption and can provide resources that may allow the owner to keep the pet or other outlets that would offer the pet a better outcome. If a pet unsuitable for adoption is surrendered to us and we are unable to find an outlet for it through our rescue partners, we may have to make the difficult determination to humanely euthanize the pet.


Will the Arizona Humane Society still be an open admission shelter?

Yes. As a modern open admissions shelter, AHS will continue to accept owner-surrendered animals, as well as the sick, injured, abused and abandoned homeless pets who have nowhere else to turn and need our care and support. Our new process of taking in animals by appointment will allow us to provide more individualized counseling and care through a variety of resources for not only pets, but also the people in their lives. In doing so, it is our hope that we will be able to do more for each pet when he/she comes into our care.
Won’t people just abandon their animals instead of waiting for an appointment?

Prior to making this change, we consulted with animal shelters across the country that already accept animals by appointment. Those communities recognized the incredible benefits of Admission by Appointment and have not experienced an increase in abandoned animals. We expect the same here, but will work with other animal welfare agencies to ensure our community responds the same way.
Won’t other local animal shelters be flooded with more animal intakes because of this?

Our goal is to provide the community with a variety of resources that include alternative options to surrendering a pet, but do recognize that, at times, that may be the only option. It is possible other shelters will initially see an increase in intakes, but we have communicated with our partner organizations to confirm what resources are available and how we can all work together to save more lives. We will work together to monitor the situation at our shelters and partnering shelters to best maximize the impact we can have while managing what is in the best interest of each pet.


What will happen to pets if the individuals surrendering them absolutely cannot wait for an appointment?

We will always accept any sick, injured or abused animals without an appointment, as they need our help the most, and always do what’s in the best interest of each pet who enters our shelter.
What will happen if the Good Samaritan bringing in a stray cannot wait for an appointment?

AHS accepts all stray dogs that are sick, injured or abused. You may bring them to our Sunnyslope Campus or call our EAMT™ Dispatch Center at 602.997.7585 Ext. 2073 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. We can not accept stray turn-ins at our Nina Mason Pulliam Campus for Compassion.

We are unable to take in healthy stray dogs over three months of age. You can attempt to reunite a healthy, lost dog with its owner by using one of these online resources found here or you may also surrender a healthy stray dog to Maricopa County Animal Care and Control. Trap-Neuter-Return programs are the most humane and effective way to stabilize outdoor free-roaming cat populations.

We encourage Good Samaritans who have found sick, injured or abused stray animals to schedule an appointment so we can be sure to have the necessary resources ready for them, including attempting to find and contact their owner. We know there are some cases in which stray animals cannot be kept in the finder’s household, so we will make every effort to do the right thing for the pet while also working with the Good Samaritan.


How long will you have to wait to for an appointment?

Wait times will vary throughout the year. Wait times will likely be longer upon the program’s initial implementation while we are still educating the public on the new appointment process. We also suspect wait times will be longer during the summer months, when we experience high intake volumes of puppies and kittens.

Because we will be able to consult with pet owners and gather detailed information about each pet prior to their arrival at our shelter, we expect most appointments will last no more than 30 minutes.


How and when can you schedule an appointment?

Appointments can be scheduled by contacting our Pet Resource Center at 602.997.7585 option 3.


Will there be a fee to surrender an animal?

While the needs of each animal in our care differ, it costs an average of $422 to care for one animal until he/she finds a forever home. While our surrender fees likely won’t cover the full cost of care for your pet, they will help provide us the necessary resources to keep your pet safe and healthy while we search for a new, loving family. The surrender fee is $60 for all single animals and $75 for litters. We do offer assistance for low-income individuals.

How will you know if this new system is an improvement?

AHS carefully tracks annual intake, adoption and euthanasia numbers. We will closely monitor the changes in these key indicators and will make any necessary adjustments we see fit, if necessary.