Maricopa County finalizes plans for a new facility offering rehabilitation for abused and neglected animals and training for inmates
PetSmart Charities, the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, has committed $2 million to the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office (MCSO) to support the design and construction costs for a new facility that will house the MSCO Animal Safe Haven (MASH) Unit that will be located on Maricopa County’s Durango Campus near the southwest corner of 27th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road in Phoenix.
The new facility will be the first of its kind in the country, offering ample onsite animal housing and medical space, as well as classroom space so larger groups of inmates can bond with and learn to care for animals. Ultimately, the facility will serve as a recovery space for both MASH Unit animals and incarcerated individuals detained in the Maricopa County jail system. It is expected to open by May 2022.
The MASH Unit supports the MCSO Animal Crimes Investigation Unit to care for abused and neglected animals seized in investigations. The program, which has operated for nearly 20 years, focuses on rehabilitation for both recovered animals and inmates facilitated through the human-animal bond. Nonviolent, female inmates participate in a pet care and training certificate program that fosters compassion and patience and helps the animals rebuild trust in preparation for adoption.
To date, more than 660 inmates have graduated from the MASH program, and thousands of rehabilitated pets have found forever homes through adoption.
The MASH Unit’s current location, Maricopa County’s First Avenue Jail facility, was decommissioned from human use due to habitability concerns and plumbing issues in the mid-1990s. To ensure the new facility meets the needs of both people and pets, MCSO and PetSmart Charities consulted with animal welfare experts and commissioned a feasibility study to determine the impact the connected space will have on all inhabitants. The new facility will also be better equipped to house abused animals, who are held as evidence in investigations and typically require an extended length of stay, to ensure they are properly rehabilitated before being matched with a family.
MCSO intends for the new facility to be a significant step toward using evidence-based programs to achieve the MASH Unit’s long-term goals of reducing recidivism and reshaping lives of both inmates and animals.
“Our MASH program benefits animals, humans, and our community at large,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone. “Numerous studies have demonstrated the impact that the human-animal bond has on stress levels and fostering compassion. This new facility will enable us to expand MASH to include engagement and responsibility for our inmate population, including incarcerated mothers and their children, veterans, juveniles, and those with substance use disorders. Our goal is to reduce recidivism, while finding loving homes for the vulnerable animals we must lawfully care for. Ultimately, we believe this program will serve the needs of our animal population, save taxpayer dollars, and make our County an even better place to live and work. We are grateful to PetSmart Charities for its role in this innovative public-private partnership. “
“PetSmart Charities is dedicated to supporting programs that celebrate the relationship between people and pets and the positive effects pets have on our lives,” said Deborah Turcott, acting president of PetSmart Charities. “The MASH Unit can have a transformative effect on inmates and their rehabilitation, while also helping abused animals rebuild their trust in people; allowing both to leave the program for a better, more successful life. We are proud to support the new MASH facility, as the program aligns with our core values of helping pets in need and helping all pets find a lifelong, loving home.”
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office was founded in 1871 and operates in an area nearly the size of Vermont. Deputy Sheriffs provide primary or supporting law enforcement for a population of more than four million residents. MCSO’s jail system is the third largest in the country, processing and housing all felony and most misdemeanor inmates for the County, in excess of 100,000 intakes annually.
About PetSmart Charities®:
PetSmart Charities, Inc. is committed to finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and thought leadership that bring people and pets together. Through its in-store adoption program in all PetSmart® stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico, PetSmart Charities helps to find forever homes and families for more than 500,000 shelter pets each year. PetSmart Charities also provides grant funding to nonprofits aligned with its mission under key areas of support. Each year, millions of generous PetSmart shoppers help pets in need by donating to PetSmart Charities using the PIN pads at checkout registers inside PetSmart stores. In turn, PetSmart Charities efficiently uses more than 90 cents of every dollar donated to fulfill its role as the leading funder of animal welfare in North America, granting almost $340 million since its inception in 1994. Independent from PetSmart Inc., PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization that has received the Four-Star Rating from Charity Navigator, a third-party organization that reports on the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of nonprofits, for the past 15 years in a row – placing it among the top one percent of charities rated by this organization. To learn more visit www.petsmartcharities.org.
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