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Adopt a Shelter Pet, Save a Life!

By June 14, 2016All Categories
Kitten & puppy of Phoenix shelter

Looking to bring home a furry friend this summer? Consider saving a life by adopting a pet from one of the Valley’s many animal shelters. I had the opportunity to speak with representatives from some of Phoenix’s premier rescue groups: Arizona Humane Society, Arizona Animal Welfare League, HALO Animal Rescue, and Maricopa County Animal Care & Control.

Thanks to the Alliance for Companion Animals and other rescue groups, Maricopa County has seen a 71% decrease in animal euthanasia since 2012. Read on to learn more about these shelters and what you can do to make a difference.

Arizona Humane Society

Roxy and Oscar of Phoenix animal shelter

Photo Courtesy of Arizona Humane Society


Established in 1957, the Arizona Humane Society is currently Arizona’s largest non-profit animal welfare and protection agency, with Emergency Animal Medical Technicians™ (EAMTs) on call 365 days a year. The organization has two main campuses, plus two boutique retail locations in the Valley.

Why adopt from the Arizona Humane Society?

  • Very quick and easy adoption process; only one page of paperwork!
  • Open adoption policy: No home checks. The adoption process will not feel like an interrogation
  • 100% adoption guarantee. If things don’t work out, return your pet with no questions asked
  • Adoption fee includes spay/neuter, first set of vaccines, & free follow-up vet exam
  • Sliding scale adoption fees

Additional services offered:

  • Emergency Ambulance EAMT™ Service
  • Two veterinary clinics, located at both the Sunny Slope Campus and Nina Mason Pulliam Campus for Compassion, are open to the public for affordable spay/neuter services, vaccines, dental procedures, and more
  • Pet Resource Center offers compassionate one-on-one support including pet-friendly housing, affordable veterinary care, pet behavior training classes, and more
  • Summer camp for kids
Oliver the Kitten from Phoenix animal shelter

Photo Courtesy of Arizona Humane Society

What sets the Humane Society Apart from other shelters?

According to Bretta Nelson, spokeswoman for AHS,

“We’re setting the standard and treating challenging medical cases that are often difficult to treat within shelters like the Parvo virus in dogs, which is a highly-contagious, deadly disease, typically seen in puppies. As an extension to AHS’ Second Chance Animal Trauma hospital™, we now have a separate Parvo Puppy ICU, with its own building, ventilation and medical team.”

Despite its deceptively small exterior, AHS’ Sunnyslope Campus is an extensive facility with several adoption kennels, meet and greet rooms, specialized medical facilities including the trauma hospital, and an Alternative Placement department that helps reunite lost pets and their owners.

During my tour, I was moved by the emotional reunion of a family who found their dog in the kennels. I also had a chance to visit the kitten nursery and intensive care unit, where a dedicated staff member gently bottle-fed a newborn kitten. The love the staff had for the animals was palpable.

What is the mission of the Humane Society?

“When people think about animal welfare organizations, they think it’s only about pets. But it’s totally about the people and their lives as well. It all goes back to that human-animal bond. One of our number one goals is to provide people with the resources to maintain that bond.  Our motto is ‘Innovation, Compassion, Excellence.’  In collaboration with our partners, we’re turning Maricopa County into the animal welfare community of the future.”

Source: Bretta Nelson, AHS Public Relations Manager


Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA

Phoenix animal shelter dogs play pool

Photo Courtesy of Arizona Humane Society

Founded in 1971, the Arizona Animal Welfare League is Arizona’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter.  You can find adoptable dogs, cats, kittens and puppies at AAWL’s main campus in Phoenix.  You can also find rescue puppies at AAWL’s location in the Chandler Fashion Center. I had a chance to speak with AAWL marketing and communications manager Michael Morefield, whose passion for the AAWL’s rescues left a lasting impact on me.

What sets AAWL apart from other shelters?

“This is a shelter, but that doesn’t mean it has to be depressing and sad. We want it to be very uplifting.”

AAWL boasts an open, grassy campus that feels less like a shelter and more like a summer camp for pets. Dogs and cats have plenty of room to roam around, and they are cared for by an extraordinary staff.

What would you say to people who are afraid to adopt pit bulls and other “bully breeds?”

“We’ve eliminated breed labels on our kennels because people had a lot of stereotypes about certain breeds. We will tell you each dog’s breed if you ask, but we want people to know that every dog has a unique personality. Some of the sweetest dogs we’ve ever had were ‘bully breeds’ that just wanted to be with people and give kisses. Their life experiences—not their breeds—define who they are.”

Why adopt from Arizona Animal Welfare League?

  • All dogs and cats are spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped prior to adoption
  • 30 days pet insurance
  • $20 Tuesdays: adopt a shelter long-timer for only $20!
  • Quick adoption process; same day adoptions
  • Slumber party program: take your pet of choice home for a few days. If you love him, keep him! (73% of slumber party pets get adopted!)

Other services offered:

  • Low-cost public clinic (40-60% less than other clinics), open 6 days a week: general surgeries, dental, mass removals, etc.
  • Dental visits cap at $700 no matter what
  • Pet behavior enrichment

Fun Info:

  • June is adopt a shelter cat month!
  • Come check out AAWL’s spin-to-win wheel: win a cat for as little as $5, plus a free gift basket!
  • One adoptable cat by the name of Frisky quacks like a duck and walks on a harness!

What message would you like to send from AAWL to the community?

“Come and meet our animals. They are amazing, they want homes, and they will love you. It’s so important to rescue.”

Source: Michael Morefield, marketing & communications manager at AAWL


HALO Animal Rescue

Max the Phoenix shelter dog

Photo Courtesy of Arizona Humane Society

HALO, an acronym for “Helping Animals Live On,” is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter in Phoenix. I had the opportunity to speak with outreach manager Erin Denmark, who left the corporate world to pursue her passion of helping animals. Erin went to school with HALO’s CEO Heather Allen, who co-founded the shelter 22 years ago this summer. Erin says she has personally adopted 3 HALO shelter cats, one of which she fostered.

HALO’s Phoenix facility is an extension of the Maricopa County Animal Care & Control building. You can find additional HALO locations here.

Why adopt from HALO?

  • Welcoming environment for the whole family; bring your current pets along for a meet & greet!
  • Quick adoption process; no home checks
  • Adoption fee includes spay/neuter, microchip, and up-to-date vaccinations
  • Adoption fees as low as $25
  • Adoption fees waived in special circumstances

Come visit HALO for yourself, where you’ll get an excellent view of your cat or dog-to-be behind clear glass walls in spacious rooms. Outdoors, you’ll find kennels where additional dogs are waiting for homes.

More about HALO

HALO is a member of the Alliance for Companion Animals, which also includes Arizona Humane Society, Arizona Animal Welfare League, Animal Defense League of Arizona, Altered Tails, Phoenix Animal Care Coalition, and Maricopa County Animal Care & Control.

The alliance has initiated Fix.Adopt.Save., a campaign whose mission is to reduce animal homelessness, increase animal welfare, and increase community education and resources for pet adoption, spay/neuter, and vaccinations. You can take the Fix.Adopt.Save. pledge here.

What can people in the community do to help?

“Foster! Fostering is a great thing. A lot of people get sad when their pets get older. But when it comes to fostering, you get to take home puppies and kittens, care for them, turn them in, and then get new ones of the same age. You don’t have to be sad about the animals growing up!”

What message would you like to send to the community?

“HALO means ‘Helping animals live on.’ That’s our mission and our theory. All of these animals need homes, and we try to work together as a community to make that happen. It doesn’t really matter where you adopt, as long as you adopt!”

Source: Erin Denmark, HALO outreach manager

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control

Druzy the Phoenix shelter dog

Photo Courtesy of Arizona Humane Society

I spoke with Melissa Gable of MCACC, a big-hearted animal lover who has served in the animal welfare community for 20 years. According to Melissa, MCACC is the only open-intake shelter in the valley, meaning they don’t refuse ANY animals. This equates to 36,000 animals per year, averaging 100 animals each day.

Why adopt from Maricopa County Animal Care & Control?

  • Adult (6 months & older) Pitbull & Chihuahua mixes only $20 until August (includes spay/neuter, rabies vaccine, & county license)
  • Senior pets (5+ years) only $20!
  • Adoption fee waived for cats over 6 months/cats who have spent 30+ days in the shelter

What can people do to help?

“Volunteer!  Not just here, but volunteer at any shelter in town. Shelters in the valley are busiest during the summer months. If your schedule is too busy for you to volunteer, you can foster an animal. This is a great thing for kids—it teaches them how to care for animals.”

Do people often end up adopting the animals they foster?

“I do! I have 8 cats, and all of them I fostered. That’s the problem with fostering—you get attached and you don’t want to give them up!”

What message would you like to send to the community?

“It’s really important for people to realize that shelter animals are great pets that deserve a home. It can be an emotional experience to walk through the kennels and see all these faces staring at you. But give it a chance. We always say that if you adopt a shelter pet, you’re saving two lives—you’ve adopted a pet from one kennel, and that kennel is now free for another pet to take its place.”

Whether you’re looking to adopt a pet or you want to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals, pay a visit this summer to one of the Valley’s many shelters. Help reduce the number of homeless pets in Maricopa County by adopting, fostering, volunteering, or getting your current pets vaccinated and snipped. Now go ahead, save a life!

Ready to bring home your new best friend? Learn more about some of the Valley’s best shelters below.

Don’t see your favorite shelter listed? Have a heartwarming pet adoption story to share? Comment below to let us know!


Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA

Arizona Humane Society

Arizona Small Dog Rescue

Four Peaks Animal Rescue

HALO Animal Rescue

Home Fur Good

Pee Wee’s Pal’s Animal Rescue

Lucky Dog Rescue

Lucky Paws Rescue

Maricopa County Animal Care & Control

Ohana Animal Rescue

PetSmart Deer Valley

Piggie Poo




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