Petition Closed
Petitioning Arizona State Legislature

Stop Allowing Euthanasia for Adoptable Pets at 72 Hours and Create Stricter Laws for Animal Cruelty

In Maricopa County, there are over 150 animals brought into local shelters daily. The shelters euthanize a "qualified" animal after a three point inspection that takes place within 72 hours of arrival and the animal is euthanized as soon as 72 hours. A typical day involves over half of the daily intake number facing euthanasia. The daily euthanasia average ranges from 70 to the mid 100's. The three point inspection is based on health, temperament (adoptability), as well as time at shelter. The reasons can be small, such as refusing food because (s)he is afraid to having a cataract. The bottom line is...the shelters cannot support the amount of animals that are being abandoned, starved, abused, and left alone in the streets or on their doorstep. The shelters are all full and they cannot meet the demand they need too each day, resulting in the "need" for such large euthanasia rates. That can never be right.

 Arizona legislation feels that their obligation is fulfilled by giving a measly 72 hours of “shelter time” to each animal. With the demand for space and care that irresponsible ownership has caused, the shelter has to follow the minimal laws. There is too little room or funding while the problem continues to grow. The issue has directed criticism to the shelter for their policies but people fail to realize that the shelters are required to follow the law. Because there is no regulation or harsh punishments there is no way to accommodate the demand. The only way to change the euthanasia rate is to create stricter laws on animal cruelty and make sure domestic pets do not continue in a cycle of abuse.

Local representatives in Maricopa County need to step forward and demand stricter laws against the individuals who are backyard breeding, not fixing their dogs and cats, abusing, fighting, and abandoning animals, and regulate the process of adopting/selling/trading domestic pets to keep violators from recycling pets and operating without licensing. We need stricter laws, dedicated enforcement, and heavier punishment regarding animal cruelty. There needs to be funding and more humane laws in the shelters; 72 hours is not enough time to know an animal in a new environment nor to find its owners (new or old). That can be done by placing heavier fines and penalties on animal abusers that create the shelters outrageously high demand.

This can only happen by creating change in our legislature and we need your help. This problem does not just belong to the volunteers; it is the responsibility of the community to bring this to the attention of our governing officials. We can speak up and let our local and state government know that we care, we want change, and we need their help!

Please if you are reading this, sign the petition and visit Maricopa County Animal Care and Control's webpage to see what else you can do to help: http://www.maricopa.gov/Pets/AboutUs/Help.aspx

I am a 21 year old pet owner, who recently moved to Phoenix. I do not have any affiliation with Phoenix animal control or any federal/state/local agencies. If you are interested in fostering or adopting, you may also visit the link below which will give guidance. They also post feed each day of the "E-list" at each shelter: 
http://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfArizonaShelterAnimals

Letter to
Arizona State Legislature
Dear State Legislature,

I am deeply saddened by the minimal regulation and enforcement of Animal Rights. Because we lack strong laws and enforcement, irresponsible pet owners continue to obtain, breed, sell, and recycle innocent animals into unsafe homes. Ultimately, many of these animals suffer and are turned over to Animal Control where they will ultimately face euthanasia while irresponsible owners continue through the system without punishment or regulation.

I would like to focus on the laws in Maricopa County regarding domestic animals rights. First, the Arizona State Legislature has no regulation regarding puppy mills, backyard breeding, or animal sales and trade outside of the retail environment.
Second, there are minimal laws, only the punishment of a Class A misdemeanor, for any person who knowingly, intentionally or recklessly physically harms, neglects the need of food, water, and/or shelter; as well as if a person abandons, fails to provide necessary medical attention, leaves their pet in a vehicle causing physical harm or death, extensively torments the pet resulting in death, and harms or kills a working or service animal. The maximum penalty for these offenses are a fine up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for 6 months.
Lastly, a Class Six felony is applicable under the circumstances that an individual intentionally or knowingly neglects the need of food, water, and/or shelter that results in serious physical harm, tortures an animal to serious physical injury, to kill an animal allowing prolonged suffering, kills or harms a working or service animal, allows their pet to kill or harm a working or service animal, or attempts to deprive a service animal handler of their pet. The maximum penalties for these offenses are a fine of up to $150,000 and/or imprisonment of up to 1.5 years. As you can observe, the laws are contradicting in nature and provide minimal punishment.
It is up to the investigating offers on the scene to properly report the extent of the injuries and have legitimate evidence to convict at both levels of offenses. Since there is no funding or state enforcement agency strictly for domestic animal cruelty, the local law enforcement non-emergency is responsible for assessing and handling the cases. However, in a majority of the instances due to the lack of reasonable response time and lack of knowledge in handling procedures in this highly sensitive environment, most evidence is lost or becomes useless. Prosecution becomes highly improbable. These individuals can then adopt or purchase any pet the very next day while the animals continue to suffer.
Animal cruelty does not just stop in private ownership. The Maricopa County Animal Control shelters operate with loose regulation from any local or state government. The intake of animals is very high and funding is too low, even with over thirteen million taxpayer dollars a year allow the shelter to operate, it is not enough. The Animal Control has been under scrutiny for being a “kill shelter”, but they cannot meet the demand of animals that are brought to them. There is an estimate of 150 animals brought in per day. To accommodate the demand for space, the decision to euthanize pets has to be made; resulting in between 70 pets euthanized all the way into the mid-100’s per day. The decision made for Euthanization in Maricopa County is made within 72 hours. At the mark of 72 hours, an animal can be euthanized by law.
With the minimum standard of 72 hours, the shelters take full advantage to accommodate. This results in steadfast and harsh evaluations seeking after major and extremely minor medical or behavioral flaws. Any ‘defect’ can result in the irrational death of an adoptable pet. Not only are the evaluations flawed but so is the process of locating previous or new owners for the pet. Three days is not enough time to process and locate an animal’s owner nor is it enough time to market and find a new one. It is also not enough time to learn and understand a pet’s true behavior. The programs need more funding and resources to stop senseless, unjustified killing.
With minimal standards set by state laws, animals will continue to suffer being euthanized without opportunity. Without local law enforcement agencies dedicated to Animal Cruelty Investigation Training and Departments, irresponsible pet owners will continue to thrive in the operation of pet owning, breeding, selling, and trading. Without laws that do not apply significant punishment to irresponsible pet ownership, animals will continue to suffer in abusive environments.

We are calling on you, our state legislature, to create stricter laws and enforcement standards in Maricopa County. We are calling on you to bring justice to the abused animals that suffer and die. We are calling on you to regulate the breeding, buying, and selling of domestic animals to ensure their proper treatment. We are calling on you to create programs within our law enforcement to handle these fragile cases for our states silent victims. We are calling on you to create heavier penalties for those that harm their domestic animals in any way, whether their offense resulted in minor or serious physical injury or death.
It is time to break the cycle of irresponsibility in Maricopa County. We can do this by creating heavier regulations, penalties, and providing dedicated enforcement for Animal Cruelty.