In recent weeks, Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office (MSCO) Animal Safe Haven Unit announced the founding of Maricopa Animal Safe Haven (MASH), a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission to provide appropriate medical care for animals, work with the judicial system to determine ownership, and eventually ensure the animals are rehomed. The goal of the nonprofit is to raise the funds required to build a wholly new facility in Phoenix for the animals in the Safe Haven Unit.
The current facility, which is located at the former 1st Avenue Jail at 102 W. Madison Street in Downtown Phoenix, was first used in 2001. The old jail was meant to serve as a temporary facility offering care, training and health services for animals seized during lawful actions by MCSO.
Although it is MSCO’s intention to transition these animals to caring, loving homes, the way they must take custody of these animals impacts their authority to expedite adoption. “Some animals stay in our care for extended periods of time requiring additional training and lengthy housing,” says Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone. “Our facility provides long term care and rehabilitation for animals who have suffered from the most extreme cases of abuse and neglect.”
Given the time many animals spend at the facility, the current buildings condition makes it nearly impossible to effectively rehabilitate the animals. The overcrowded facility houses cats and dogs inside the old jail cells still furnished with metal beds and utilities. Split on multiple floors, it is difficult for the dogs to maneuver through the facility to the modified roof where animals spend 15 minutes a day socializing in the outdoors.
“MASH seeks to raise $8.5 million to fund a new facility and expand opportunities for the benefit of the animals and the inmate population,” says Penzone. “Once funded, we will build a state-of-the-art facility that offers the appropriate shelter, design, hygiene, apparatus, structure and social setting to accommodate up to 125 canine and 100 feline occupants.”
The new and improved MASH facility is being planned for the vacant space near the corners of 27th Avenue and Lower Buckeye in Phoenix. In addition to the updated animal care components, the new building will also incorporate a training center, which will provide educational opportunities for the local inmate population on care, compassion and grooming of the animal population. The current facility offers limited programming like this, but with modernization, it can expand exponentially.
For more information or to get involved visit www.mcsomash.org.