Pima Animal Care Center experiences first-ever staffing shortage due to COVID-19

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – The Pima Animal Care Center is once again in crisis mode. This time it’s not just due to overcrowding. For the first time, the shelter is experiencing a staff shortage.

At least a dozen members of their team are absent because they test positive for COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus.

The shelter is asking the public for help. They need 300 emergency foster families who can immediately house a pet for at least two weeks. PACC needs foster homes of all kinds, but especially for medium and large dogs.

“We have just been overwhelmed with the arrival of animals. We are at full capacity and at the same time we are starting to feel what everyone is feeling with the staff. We are reduced to a reduced team in most of our teams because of COVID,” said director, Monica Dangler.

Many PACC teams are down to one staff member. They anticipate that staff who are not infected could be in the next few days. She says that is why they are trying to empty the shelter.

“We need either adopters or foster families. Fosters for two weeks, hopefully in about two weeks our staff will be back and we’ll be back with a full squad,” she said.

Dangler says the community has always been there for PACC and she hopes they will come back in this time of crisis.

The shelter has had a record number of admissions for months. They receive an average of 50 to 80 animals per day. At this time, PACC is only accepting emergency buyouts from owners until their staffing returns to normal.

“We are seeing a lot more dropouts coming in. So that had an impact on our contribution. It’s all those extra pets coming. People can’t afford their pets,” Dangler said.

The easiest way to help the shelter is to become a host family.

Sara Voorhees and Barry Weissman have been parents for years. They say the foster family makes a huge difference in their life and that of the animal.

“Most of these dogs are well behaved and well trained. So it’s like another member of the family,” Weissman said.

They have advice for anyone who is reluctant to become a foster parent.

“Just try it once and see if you like it and see if the dog likes you. You don’t have to adopt the dog, just give the dog a break. Wouldn’t you like a break?” says Vorhees .

PACC is also extending its hours of operation in hopes of bringing more animals into homes. They will be open from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday.

Then on Saturday they will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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Benjamin M. Yerger