New $8.5M Facility Planned For Maricopa County Sheriff Office's Animal Safe Haven Unit

By Autriya Maneshni
Published: Friday, April 9, 2021 - 4:58pm
Updated: Monday, April 12, 2021 - 12:03pm

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A dog in an old jail cell at the Maricopa County Sheriff Office
Maricopa County Sheriff Office
A dog in an old jail cell at the Maricopa County Sheriff Office's Animal Safe Haven Unit in Phoenix.

Animals in the Maricopa County Sheriff Office's Animal Safe Haven Unit — known as MASH — will be getting a new, improved facility after years of living in poor conditions.

The new MASH facility is being planned for the vacant space near 27th Avenue and Lower Buckeye in Phoenix. It will cost approximately $8.5 million, which will be raised by private donations through a newly created 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, according to Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. 

MASH is a special unit designed to care, nurture and rehabilitate animals that have been seized during MCSO investigations. Some of the animals were neglected or abused, and they need a safe place to recover. MCSO officials say their current facility makes it nearly impossible for the MASH Unit to properly rehabilitate them.

Sheriff Paul Penzone with a rendering of the new facility.

"They deserve to have a facility that’s designed to meet their needs; to be spacious so that they’re not incarcerated in a jail cell but actually in a facility that’s designed to clean, to care for and to nurture their recovery," said Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone.

The animals are currently housed at the former First Avenue Jail in downtown Phoenix. Penzone said the animals have been living in the jail for more than two decades. His goal is to help the animals and the inmates who interact with them. The facility will not only provide better care for the animals, but it can also expand on educational programs to help inmates learn about care and compassion.

Maricopa County Sheriff Office
Maricopa County Sheriff Office
Inmates care for dogs at the Maricopa County Sheriff Office's Animal Safe Haven Unit in Phoenix.

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