Closing Mesa Animal Shelter Will Make it Harder for Families to Adopt Pets, Opponents Say

By Nonprofit Marketing ArizonaApril 30, 2018

More than 8,000 people in one day have signed a petition to keep Maricopa County's animal shelter in Mesa from closing.

Animal-welfare advocate Kelly Richardson started the petition.

She worries families in the East Valley will have a harder time adopting a dog or cat if they have to drive farther to the county's south Phoenix shelter near Interstate 17 and Buckeye Road.

"Consolidating two shelters in a county as big as Maricopa is a bad idea for our community," Richardson said in an email. "I'm encouraged by the response to the petition in such a short amount of time, and I hope that it continues its momentum."

Richardson, who runs a small animal-rescue organization, agreed the Mesa shelter is too cramped. But she believes closing it completely will lead to crowding at other East Valley rescues. Richardson called on Maricopa County to buy land in the East Valley to build a new shelter.

Why is the Mesa shelter closing?

The county announced it may close the Mesa shelter by 2019 because it is overcrowded, old and doesn't have room to expand. The facility is surrounded by Loop 101, Loop 202 and the Chicago Cubs spring-training stadium.

County officials said they are working on a plan to double or even triple the size of the Phoenix shelter to centralize all adoption services and provide better care to the animals.

It will be too expensive to retrofit the Mesa facility while the Phoenix shelter has room to expand on vacant land the county already owns, county officials say.

"We are here to do what is best for the animal community as a whole," Maricopa County Animal Care and Control spokesman Jose Santiago said in an email. "Looking at a map, the current West shelter location really is as close to a centralized location as possible for the county." 


Distance is a factor for people in outlying areas like Surprise and New River as well, county Board of Supervisors spokesman Fields Moseley said in an email.

"Experienced professionals in this industry know people who truly care about their pets will drive the extra minutes," he said.

The new facility will offer low-cost services to people in need as well as provide more housing, a large recreational area, and greater clinic services, Moseley said. He added that the county hopes an animal-rescue group will arrange to use the Mesa shelter.

"The bottom line is: the mission is to save more animals by finding them homes," Moseley said.

What people are saying

People who signed the petition shared their reasons for opposing the closure.

"This is a tragedy," one woman wrote. "They need to stop thinking about just numbers and think outside the box and how this affects the people AND the animals."

"What if we have a shelter quarantine issue? What about volunteers like me who can't make a trip that far?" asked another. "In this case, bigger is NOT better!"