Animal Shelter of the Week: Episode 58 – Arizona Humane Society

Arizona Humane Society

The Arizona Humane Society (AHS) was founded in 1957 by a small group of compassionate volunteers. Today, it is one of the largest nonprofit shelters in the country. AHS is the safety net for the Valley’s most vulnerable pets – the sick, injured and abused homeless pets – many of whom are rescued by AHS’ FieldRescue Team and then treated in AHS’ Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital. In fact, two out of every three of the nearly 18,000 pets that AHS takes in, are treated in the trauma hospital. AHS’ comprehensive medical, behavioral rehabilitation, surrender intervention, and spay/neuter initiatives saved an additional 100,000 lives over the last six years. Lifesaving programs such as the trauma hospital, Mutternity Suites, Kitten Nursery, Bottle Baby Kitten ICU and Parvo PuppyICU has saved the lives of pets routinely euthanized in shelters. In addition, AHS follows an Ethical No-Kill Philosophy and never euthanizes a pet for space or length of time in the shelter. AHS is also committed to keeping pets in homes with their loving owners through AHS’ Pet Resource Center and veterinary clinics, both of which allow AHS to connect pet owners with affordable medical, behavior and support services. Of course, AHS could not care for the Valley’s sick, injured and abused homeless pets without the support and collaboration of their partners, Foster Heroes, volunteers, donors and pet lovers across Maricopa County.

Website: Facebook: to the Animal Shelter of the Week podcast, where we feature outstanding organizations from around the country that are helping animals and the people who rescue them. Do It is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters in the only site that automates rescue really transport. Let’s meet this week’s featured animal shelter, the Arizona Humane Society. H s was founded in 1957 by a small group of compassion of volunteers. Today it is one of the largest nonprofit shelters in the country. H s is the safety net for the valley’s most vulnerable pets. The sit injured, abused homeless pets, many of whom are rescued by H s, is field rescue team and then treated by the H s. A second chance animal trauma hospital. In fact, two out of every three of the nearly 18,000 pets the HSE takes in are treated in the trauma hospital. Hi. Bred a Welcome to the show today. Hi. Thanks for having me. Of course, we’re happy to have you. And I’m very excited to learn more about you guys. And I checked out your website so I hope you’re ready. I’m very intrigued and I’ve got lots of questions for you. This perfect. That sounds great. Awesome. So what exactly is your role at the Arizona Humane Society? Yeah. So I am the public relations manager here at years on Humane Society. I’ve been in my position nine years now, which is so crazy it has flown by. But I worked very, very closely with our marketing team here, really working with my team mates on everything involving public relations, media relations, communication and just really helping, you know, from the word with what we do and also, you know, help. Really, the experts in the areas that we serve. That’s awesome. In nine years. Oh, my gosh. Have you been in the PR manager for nine years, or does that include some other roles that you had at the Humane Society? No. Oh, yeah. I have been in the same role for a nine years, which has been great. And I think when people think humane society, they tend to think, you know, just adoptions and oh, my God, if I have to tell you, that is one very small piece of what we dio. So there, truly or not any two days that are alike here there is no slow season. I remember when I interviewed they said that Oh, October tends to be the slower season, and I’m still waiting for that first sitcom. But it’s been so fun and emotional and rewarding and just all of those things that come to mind when you think of animals. It’s kind of like one of those things words, awesome to hear that, you know, you’re always doing something. You’ve got things going. But then it’s also kind of sad because of the industry that were in that we have to be so busy and we have toe continue doing things. But I’m happy to hear that. You know, I can tell you’re excited for the position that you’re aimed clearly you love it. You’ve been in it for nine years. So, Britain, can you tell me a little bit more about your organization, like some of its history and its background, and maybe the mission that you guys have at the Absolutely Yeah, so the Arizona, you mean side? He was started in 1957 by a small group of very passionate volunteers and then has grown to become the state’s largest animal welfare and protection agents be here in Arizona. The wonderful thing about the Arizona Humane Society is our role here in caring for the sick, injured and abused homeless animals. So we are able to do that in large part through our Field Operations team, which is comprised of emergency animal medical technicians, rescue team Wells, animal cruelty investigators. So we a law enforcement on suspected cases of animal cruelty. And then we also run at the shelter our Second Chance Animals Trauma Hospital, which sees about 12,000 patients a year. Oh, yeah, our role is really, really need in sick, injured and abused homeless animals. So they come in, you know, oftentimes through our field team goes to our trauma hospital and then our foster homes four healing before they are put up for adoption. So we’ve been in the value since 1957. We taken about 18,000 homeless pets each year. So a very, very robust organization. I want to say that our operating budget is about 23 $21 million just simply based on our trauma hospital, our rescue efforts, a lot of intensive care unit. We’re very proud that we’re able to treat a lot of heads in our organization that are routinely euthanize and other organizations around the valleys. So you know, those newborn kittens or Harvell And he has living with parvo. Uh, you know, heads like that that are just really perfectible in a shelter environment that could not survive on their own. And, you know, years ago, shelters really just didn’t have the resources to care for those populations. But I’m very happy to report that we have been able to add in all these special intensive care units have expansions of our trauma hospital and now are saving some of the most vulnerable animals in our community. And our vision is really just saving the lives of the most vulnerable and enriching the lives of both paths and people that iss so awesome to hear. And you guys literally go above and beyond and you guys have the resource is and I did see on your website, by the way, I want to point out to our listeners if you check out the Facebook page, your guys, this cover videos, but your videos of the little kitten in taking care of them and I love that, and that was very intriguing to me. And just to hear that you guys have all of those intensive care units and everything just to kind of support you guys because not a lot of organizations have those. Resource is like you mentioned. That’s extremely awesome. So, do you guys care for all of the animals within your facility? Or do you guys have, like, different buildings or different locations? Yeah, so we actually have two main locations are Sunny Hill Campus that was really the hub of all of our life, saving efforts in the fact that it have the trauma hospital, then have the care unit, the kitten nursery maternity suites not to be confused of modernity, threes in their babies. And then we have our nine Amaysim. Pulliam Campus for Compassion Location, which is about 20 minutes away, brought on 20 acres off land. That is where our fuel team start their day and where are dispatched. Call center is for rescue calls as well as our pet resource center. So that’s a team of individuals that are 355 days answering calls from the public. They take about 60 or 70,000 calls a year from pet owners, where we’re trying to provide them with three sources. And if those resources don’t work for them, we set up an appointment so that their pet parents can surrender them. So that’s really located at our campus for compassion location, and then we have a couple of off site adoption locations as well. But what really makes our organization go round and round is our foster hero program, especially in caring for so many sick and injured and abused pad that we need foster homes in order for these heads to go and be able to recover. So we have about 1000 active foster heroes right now, and last year we were able to spend 4600 pets in tow. Boxter care. So it’s an extremely robust program, and it truly expands the walls of our non profit organization. That’s truly awesome. I mean, you guys have so much to offer. I’m kind of just my mouth, just like Wow, you guys have so much That’s so awesome. It’s pretty interesting. And for me especially, you know, being here nine years, I’ve really seen everything come full circle because it wasn’t always that way. And then about seven years ago or so Dr Stephen Hanson, our president and CEO, came on board. He is a veterinarian. He’s a board certified toxicologist. He actually came to us from the A f P c a in New York City, and he really came in and implemented about 10 new program immediately. So we have him to thank for the maternity suite, the Harbel Puppy intensive care unit. The bottle, baby kitten intensive care unit. So in the last seven years, we have been able to decrease euthanasia by 81 person and save the lives of an additional 100,000 animals. So, to be firsthand, the witness, the been pretty remarkable. Yes, definitely. And I mean, just the fact that you guys are well prepared to kind of care for just about anything that comes through those doors Now. Are you guys considered unopened intake type organization or do you guys still kind of have restrictions? And you guys have the capability to choose which cases you take in? No, no, we’re managed open intake. So what that means is, obviously we fast track in all of the sick and injured and then we have an admission by appointment for healthy pats or owner surrender. Pat. So what we found is about around seven year mark seven years ago is we had where people would come a few R admissions area and it would be about a three hour wait. And the people obviously were so emotional on. The pets were distraught, and it was just a very stressful environment. So we thought, How can we make it mawr personalize. And how can we just take the time to sit down with people and learn what they need and, you know, learn more about their pads because we found when it was that busy, you’re not having those one on one conversations. And at the end of the day, nobody wants to give up their pat, right? You know, people in that position Do you really think that this is the last resort of that? We are their last resort, and sometimes it is. But often times they may just need a Vega dog food for a month. Or they just might need access to you know, what are some of the pet friendly housing areas. Or, you know, they might need a crate because they can. You know, the landlord says they need to get rid of their puppy, but they don’t have a wayto create train. So once they started to look really deep into, why do people need to relinquish their pet? Then we wanted to take it of approach of Let’s help both the pets and the people. So admission by appointment allows us to do that, because first people will call the pet resource center. They fit in, spend time, having conversations, getting to the root of what the people need. Oftentimes we can help provide that resource to them so they can keep their pet, which they’re so grateful for. And then in the event the resource is don’t work or again, you know it’s beyond their control. Then we said appointment, they come in, they meet one on one with a specialist of ours, and you really come away knowing, you know, the dog loves tennis ball but isn’t a fan of small toddlers. You learn so much more, and that’s what that has done for us. And it made the profit very one on one very private. You know, we have different exam room that everybody goes into your not having air everything in front of strangers or people you don’t know. And it’s just really been a game changer. The fact that you guys as an organization, recognized you know, those needs of somebody, and you guys are actually doing everything you can to make them feel more comfortable and learn about them and learn about their pet a little bit more. That’s making a huge difference in this industry. So kudos to you guys. Yeah, thank you. And we just Some are in the process to of adding a resource Navigator, which is a social worker position. So we came down even further into the help that the people might need. So we’re really excited to get that program off the ground. Probably in the next 30 days or so. We’ll keep you posted. Yeah, please, Dio, that’s awesome to be ableto, you know, offer that to people cause, like you said, it’s caring about the animals, is you know one thing. But also being there in supporting the pet owners is this. You know, that’s kind of what’s needed, because sometimes you know, life gets tough and, like you said, sometimes we may need a bag of dog food or bag, cat suit or anything of that nature because, let’s face it, animals, they’re not cheap. They’re like having Children. But there, so rewarding. So bread. I’m kind of curious as to what your community is like in your organizations area, because some of us are in Arizona, so kind of just Penis, a little picture of what that looks like. Yeah, So Phoenix, of course, is the fifth largest city in the country. So you do have a transient population, a lot of people coming in going, of course, in 2000 and eight, when the economy, um, really crashed. You know, we definitely saw abandonment of animals due to that. I think around that time our emergency animal medical technicians about 34% of the calls they were going on were, you know, pets abandoned and backyard people losing their homes and things like that. So, you know, it’s just a really, really large city. And so, you know, we’re dealing really with all walks of life, and it certainly makes it fun and exciting in the sense of, you know, getting to learn about different, you know, people and things like that. But it can definitely be challenging from, ah, homeless pet problem and a pet overpopulation problem. So we do focus a lot on a neuter and really helping to spread that message and be able to offer people affordable and accessible services for their hats. Because again, at the end of the day, I think everyone absolutely love their pets. But they’re, you know, they’re not inexpensive, that’s for sure, definitely. And I feel like the overpopulation and focusing on the spaying and Neutering. That’s a huge thing. That kind of has toe happen everywhere. You know, it’s a one thing that’s really great. So in Phoenix, there’s, ah Coalition that were a part of, and it’s called six Adopt Phase. And it’s made up of six animal welfare groups here in Maricopa County, and we all have really a different kind of need. So you have a couple of groups that really specializes in adoptions. We have one that is strictly a neuter. Another one is for ah, trap, neuter return. Of course, as I mentioned, we care for the sick, injured and abuse, so we have been alliance that’s been in place while the Lions has been in place for quite a while Coalition, rather. But fix it up, Say, started in about 2012 at which time there are about 100,000 homeless animal coming into the two main shelters here in Maricopa County. And in that time we’ve also been able as a group to decrease intake and euthanasia by quite a bit. So I want to say, now there’s maybe about 40,000 animal coming in to Maricopa County shelters and six adopt saved of exactly what it sounds like. You know, we offer resource is for people to say neuter their pads. We just had a faint neuter weekend at the end of February, where about 853 surgeries were performed in another 350 or so vouchers were given out. Obviously, adoption is a key. Focus will do some stay at home adoption events, where each organization just does adoptions out their own facilities. But we do it as a group, and then there’s a really big focus on Foster as well. So fix it up, save, have some amazing funders, as our charities is one and then the nine amazing Pulliam Charitable trust is the other, and they’ve committed millions of dollars. So of course we couldn’t do that with help them. But I think a coalition of animal welfare groups like that is maybe somewhat uncommon. Go to be a group really Work together for the common cause is very, very cool thing for Phoenix, and part of it is even door to door. We had a representative that for a time being was going door to door offering services to people, which was amazing. And, you know, there will be a lot of mobile clinics that go to the underserved area. So it really is a holistic approach to pet overpopulation. Yes. And I’m totally on board with you about you guys being ableto work together within that coalition. You said it perfect, working towards the same cause. And that’s something that is just when you hear about organizations working together, it kind of just puts a smile on your face because we’re all working towards the same thing. We want to save more animals. We want to keep animals in their homes. And you guys literally have, like, the whole package. You know, you guys have the real deal. You guys focus on all the areas that people and you know, pet owners and, you know, animals in general, everything that they’re facing, you guys are able to help them, and that’s truly inspiring. And I would love to see that everywhere. Really? I’d love to see more organizations work together, so that’s awesome to hear that. You guys do that? Yeah. Thank you. So what is one of the challenges that you guys face? Like, What would you say is your biggest challenge? You know, I think our facilities personally are quite a challenge. You know, again, when you’ve had a building that’s been there since 1957 you quickly outgrow it. So in order to keep up with demand and the Phoenix metropolitan area growing, we’re eventually going to need a new facility to accommodate that really have the flex space needed for, you know, different things we need to do based on seasonal changes and things like that. You know, I think that’s one of the big challenges. I think always the spay neuter piece is gonna be very important from a marketing perspective. It’s really how do you target new audiences with you know, perhaps a pretty small budget. So And I know any non profit out there listening. No, you know, there probably in the exact same position. So not kind of a new challenge. But, you know, as we work to increase adoptions and bring in additional animals through our project, reach out program from other organizations when they’re overflowing. And in the summer minds, I mean, the summer in Arizona so challenging because our kitten season is literally we just opened or bottle baby kitten nursery in its march. So it will be open probably through November, which is just such a long hidden season because of our weather. And then, of course, in the summary, you know, we just reached triple digit temperatures, which is so hard on both pets and people. So we run into the summer being a big challenges while and just, you know, continued pedal for population in our community. But the fact that you know you already kind of know, like you’re aware you guys air like, Okay, Summer season has come here. We gotta make sure that we’re propped and we’re ready to care for all the kittens and you know, everything of that nature. I mean, it’s great that you guys have that knowledge and you guys were there to support when you know that there’s gonna be hardships. Yeah, and one really big thing that we put into place a couple of years ago. Whether don’t kidnap campaign about, You know, if you see a maybe wait eight hours to be of their mothers return because the mother’s truly do offer them their best chance of survival. And And if the mothers don’t come back, we can give you a care in place kit where you can help you care for them until they’re old enough to be adopted out. And in exchange, you know, we’ll give you all of the supplies and then when they’re six weeks of age, will give free vaccines. When they’re eight weeks, the wage will stay in neuter for free. And even if I can’t find them a home, then we’ll put them up for adoption. So you just find that you know they do there alone isn’t enough for a rescue team isn’t enough. You know, you really gotta hit it from all different sides and be able to provide people with the tools to help support as well. Because of the end of the day, a lot of people do want to help. So it’s, you know, a mixture of education, programs, services, everything That is, honestly, something that I have never heard of before. That you guys actually supply people with the kits to care for kittens and make sure that you guys are supporting them. The biggest thing that kind of stands out to me and this is an issue that we have in my area is if we find animals that are either dumped or abandoned and we try to take them to an organization, the organization, they charged us to surrender them even though they’re not our pets. And I feel like that is a huge issue because, you know, we’re trying to do the right thing and we’re trying to bring them to an organization as opposed to leaving them wherever they were. But then we’re being charged. So the fact that you guys work with the people of your community, you guys actually encourage them to care for these animals and take them in and say, Hey, you know, we’re gonna help you by giving them their shots. We’re gonna help you by supporting them. I personally love that because I feel like that needs to be something that happens everywhere just because of the simple fact that a lot of people don’t want to rescue animals and they don’t wanna say them or be a part of it because they know that it’s either gonna cost them money or, you know, it’s just easier to leave them there per se, which is honestly, it’s sad. You know, the newborn kittens we knew it had to be kind of a different approach. And then don’t get me wrong. I mean, we do have you, you know, after the surrender, fees from owner surrendered are people that are owners surrendering their pat. But we really work with people based on, you know, their ability to be able to cover those fees or what have you. And then, of course, for the sick and injured more of a donation based because you know the way to look at it is our like it better are operating budgets ball between $2123 million. The average cost of care for each animal we bring in is $1000 then in the summer minds are kitten season well taken, about two 1000 kittens that are anywhere from just days old to about eight weeks of wage. So they may come in and go to our eye. You or they may go to the kitten nursery based on what age they are. But we’ll take it about 2000 during that time and you reach capacity and we have unethical no kill philosophy. So we never use the NYSE for space or length of time in our shelters, which is wonderful. But if our bottle baby kittens nice, you that can hold 56 babies that need to be fed every 23 or four hours suddenly reaches 90 Then your mortality rate skyrockets because you don’t have enough staff and volunteers to feed them that often. So we thought, you know, if the community can help us and give the babies over that hump into that point, then you know, being able to provide the same nooner and the vaccines and what have you a fraction of the cost of our average cost of care of $1000. So you definitely have to wait But it is hard because as a non profit organization, we can’t give away everything free either. You know, if we don’t have the money to care for these that need we do blood transfusion in our trauma hospital and we remove foreign objects and orthopedic surgery. I mean, you name it, so this is very, very expensive, but we try to be really flexible. Not everything is so black and white. That definitely makes sense. And it’s definitely hard with, you know, you guys taking in what seems to be the hardest of cases with these animals. So I want to kind of pivot just a hair. I noticed that you guys have something called the wagon wheels. Can you share a little bit about that? I’m very intrigued with that. Yeah, So where you wheel is our mobile adoption vehicle? It is this large vehicle that is graphic crap. There’s actually two very cute butts on the back of it, and it’s kind of a moving billboard for us, really. And what that allows our education and outreach team to do is for our really big events is they’re able. There’s inside it. I believe the air condition There’s a think they’re separate kennel for the pastor’s, even a little meet and greet room, and it allows our team to load up whatever pets they’re taking to an event and they can even stay right there on board. And there’s a little awning that comes out and people can come on board and visit with them or what have you. So it’s really just a way to bandar adoptions to other parts of the Valley that may not have adoptable hat. That’s pretty cool. And I saw it on the website and I loved it. I thought it was super cool, and I thought it was cute. I wanted to kind of touch point on that. So run. Another thing that I was kind of curious about is you kind of mentioned quite a bit of the programs that you guys offer. But do you guys offer any type of educational programs or summer camps for kids in the youth to kind of come and care for animals and learn about animal welfare? Yeah, we sure do. So we have our education and outreach team, and we have quite a few animal ambassadors that live here and go to those programs that we have charity of Bunny Easy also have some snake and the teams always kind of bringing in some different reptiles. We have hedgehog. We have two ferrets that are very beloved members of our staff. So the education and outreach team is really a mixture of everything. They will go in and do school programs. We do have a very robust summer count program that we have in June and July. We offer quite a few different sessions from animal Adventures to Junior am he that the rescue program. So anyone that wants to grow up to rescue animals, that’s probably my favorite one. We also for spring break. We had animals, doctors. So anyone looking to be a bet and for the summer camp, we do quite an age range and separated out, so we’ll have the younger kids. Then we’ll have also the ones that are really looking for kind of career exploration. Your cancer definitely very hands on, interactive, a lot of fun. And then, of course, you know some investors will bring in field trips and come visit us. We also have reading for fun, which I want to say have one Saturday, a month where his consigned up to come and read You are pets in our care, which is so cute and fun. And then we offer birthday parties so we can do a couple options. They can either come to our facility to have the birthday party or will bring the birthday party to exam, which is really fun. And then we also have a cuddle bunch program. Businesses tend to be the ones that use that the most where they can for one or two hours, have someone come out and bring three or four puppies or kittens that they just fit and cuddle on and de stress at work. So that’s really fun. One is Well, yeah, we’re very, very active in the community. And of course, we’ll go to a lot of community events as well. We team with, you know, there is on a Diamondbacks baseball and just do a lot of different fun things like that. Oh, my goodness. Could you bring the cuddle bunch my way? I would have so much that so. But this goes to show, you know, you guys definitely have so much to offer, and it literally just brings a smile to my face. See if I’m thinking of any type of animal care or fun things or, you know, education or being a foster like you guys literally have it all like I go to you guys and Herbie, she’s I appreciate that. I mean, I hope so. We just want to be a research the community. And we understand so much the joy that pets bring to our lives. And we understand that people think hardships, but they shouldn’t have to give up their pets because of that, though I would definitely hope that, you know, somebody ever needed anything that they would certainly, you know, retail. Visit our website and see the different offerings that are available. Yes, I agree. And I encourage your listeners to go and check out your Guises website and before we end the podcasts a little bit, you’ve been in your position for nine years now. And I’m sure that you’ve seen the good, the bad, the happy times. They’re not so happy. I’m curious how you got into the position you’re currently in. Did you know that you always wanted to be an animal rescue or did it just kind of happen, why it actually kind of happened. I mean, I’ve always absolutely adored animals and pad raised with them, but never really thought of getting into the animal welfare. And I think I was kind of one of those people that the Goa humane societies adoptions or what have you? And yeah, I had moved to Phoenix for Wisconsin and I was working in property management, and I remember getting a little bit fed up with that and saw the position popped up. And at the time I was completely unqualified for it. And I’m pretty sure I came in and just bagged and pleaded, And you know that if you just give me a chance and I will figure it out and it’s been eye opening and crazy and, you know, nonstop. But it’s truly a wonderful organization, and I am surrounded with the most compassionate people, as been life changing for sure. How awesome. I love to hear those stories, you know, just kind of seeing, you know what you did before You know your current position and kind of just how it led up to you being a PR for a huge, humane society. It’s encouraging others to cause just cause you’re in a position that you may not like. If animal rescue is for you, there’s always ways that you could get involved. Yeah, absolutely. Keep your eyes open for the different positions, or even start volunteering or fostering and about the ah, wonderful way to kind of get a foot in the door. And I encourage anyone. That’s where your passion is, because for me being able to do something that truly is making a difference by then my opening and wonderful and I don’t know, a lot of people there may feel like they are inspired each day. And that’s definitely one thing that I feel is very fired every day. Yes, definitely well brought up. I’ve enjoyed our conversation. I literally love everything that you guys were doing. I’m happy that we were able to kind of shine a light toe all the great work you guys were doing, and I hope that this hopes our listeners get a better idea of who you guys are, what you guys have to offer, and if anybody is in your area, if they can get a hold of you, whether it’s to volunteer Foster just participate in some of their events. How can they get in contact with you guys or stay up to date on what you guys have for went on? Yeah, so definitely visit the Arizona Humane Society on Facebook. It is theirs on a humane society. We’re also on Twitter and in the ground at 80. Humane, definitely the website www dot easy humane dot org’s have so much information. And then, of course, our pet resource center. I just wonderfully educated and have so much knowledge and resource of there at 60 to 9977585 and you can reach them with any questions as well. Or if you’re in the area, yeah, swing by and we’d be happy to give you a tour. Perfect. That is so great to hear. So do you have anything else you’d like to share with us today? Before we wrap things up? I think it’s just been it’s been a whirlwind and just I appreciate all of our partners and our supporters and really of any nonprofit that we could not do. The work that we do without our 2000 volunteers are foster heroes are partners or sponsors for various events and even in our in kind media partners. So it’s definitely a labor of love and not they were perfect. There’s certainly more lives that we want to say than more programs we want to implement, but just, ah big thank you to everyone that supports their local organization. We are local Arizona. We are affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States. So you know, the donors and supporters are critical to the work we dio awesome well again, brought up. Thank you so much for joining me today, and I look forward to connecting with you in the future to see how things were going found. Great. Thank you again. So much for having me. I really enjoyed our talk. Of course, things for tuning into today’s podcast do It is a free platform for both organizations and volunteers. If you’re not already signed up, head on over to do bert dot com and get started today


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