How Phoenix Area Groups Are Keeping Pets And People Together

Published: Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 12:48pm
Updated: Thursday, February 25, 2021 - 11:03am

Phoenix is using half a million dollars in federal coronavirus relief funds to help keep pets and people together during the pandemic and recession.

From Horses To Dogs

Some people experiencing homelessness won’t accept medical and behavioral health services because they don’t want to be separated from their pets. That’s why the City Council on Wednesday approved $50,000 for Hunkapi Farms in Scottsdale. 

The 10-acre farm that typically focuses on equine therapy plans to convert horse stalls to house up to 34 dogs at a time. Community Bridges Inc., the company that provides homeless outreach for Phoenix, will help clients undergoing treatment stay connected with their pets. Community Bridges estimates it will transport three pets per week with foster care averaging between one and three months.

Preparing For Evictions

The council also approved $450,000 for the Arizona Humane Society to help smaller animal welfare groups dealing with less revenue and more surrendered and abandoned pets. Funding should provide boarding, fostering and vet care. 

Gov. Doug Ducey extended the state’s ban on residential evictions until Oct. 31 but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ordered a ban through Dec. 31. The CDC’s goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19 by preventing renters from becoming homeless or living in crowded conditions.

Bretta Nelson with the Arizona Humane Society told KJZZ it’s currently estimated between 22-39% of renters will be affected when the moratorium ends.

“Based on further data including approximately how many households own pets, and how many people may have friends and family to help, if we predict that 25% of those people will need assistance for their pets that is approximately 5,000 pets per month who could be at risk for owner surrender (for the four months after the moratorium ends) in the Phoenix Metro area,” she said.

Nelson said the Arizona Humane Society is ramping up all existing programs and working on a website called www.pethousinghelpaz.org. The site will have resource information, re-homing options and a direct foster placement program.

“It’s almost a peer-to-peer program in which people who need a few weeks to get back on their feet can list their pet and a community member interested in helping that person could respond and the two could connect and the person’s pet doesn’t have to come back into the shelter,” she said.

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