Arizona’s Leading Animal Welfare Organizations Partner to Form Pet Housing Help AZ Task Force.
The COVID-19 pandemic is putting millions of pets across the country at risk of being surrendered to animal shelters by families who love them but are forced to choose between finding a place to live or keeping their pets.
With the eviction moratorium set to expire on July 31, the number of pets who could be at risk spans from 2,000 to 5,000 each month, based on multiple data sources. While 5,000 pets per month is worse-case scenario, that number doubles Valley animal shelters monthly intake.
As such, seven of the leading animal welfare organizations in Arizona have taken a unique approach and proactively formed the Pet Housing Help AZ Task Force, the first of its kind in Arizona and one of the few in the country. Its goal is to reduce the number of dogs and cats entering Arizona shelters by providing the resources needed to keep pets and their families together and includes a centralized website, to help owners keep their beloved pets with them and out of shelters.
In Maricopa County, people’s ability to cover pet care costs and related expenses have been drastically affected by the pandemic. Because the pandemic has exacerbated affordable housing shortages that already existed, renters across the country and low-income households often choose between paying rent and buying groceries, medicine and other necessities—including pet-related expenses.
The Pet Housing Help AZ Task Force was formed to offer a community-wide solution to this community-wide problem.
The task force efforts include:
- Expanding temporary foster programs for pet owners
- Increasing surrender prevention and intervention efforts
- Increasing collaboration with human and health service agencies and animal shelters
- Increasing education and awareness around the benefits of pet-friendly housing for landlords
- A specialized website – pethousinghelpaz.org – with bi-lingual resources, rehoming options, and a peer-to-peer temporary foster pet platform
Despite the eviction moratorium’s various extensions, Valley animal shelters have already been assisting pet owners who are facing housing instability. Comparing to pre-pandemic years, Maricopa Animal Care and Control (MCACC) has seen an approximately 36 percent increase of owner surrenders due to housing-related reasons, including evictions and homelessness. The Arizona Pet Project has also reported a 40 percent increase in requests for assistance for housing-related reasons, with an overall increase of 32 percent year-over-year. Additionally, two-thirds of the applications that the Arizona Humane Society’s Pet Resource Center is receiving for its Project Home Away from Home foster program for owned pets are due to housing instability caused by the pandemic.
Pet owners in need of help or community members who want to help can do so by visiting www.pethousinghelpaz.org. Through the specialized website, pet owners can access bi-lingual resources, sign up to rehome their pet, or connect with fellow pet lovers to temporarily foster their pet until they get back on their feet. Those who want to help can sign up to become a temporary foster parent to a pet owner in need.