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Pima County proposes tent to ease animal crowding

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Pima County leaders are considering using a large outdoor tent to help ease crowding at the Pima Animal Care Center.

County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry is asking the Board of Supervisors to sign off on more than $400,000 to build the temporary structure, the Arizona Daily Star reported Saturday. If approved, the funding would allow the center to put up a 120- by 60-foot tent next to the facility and hire more workers.

Plans also call for a concrete floor and heating and cooling of the structure.

The board is expected to make a decision next week.

The tent would hold 100 new modular kennels. It would be meant only as a temporary measure as county officials look at building a new state-of-the-art facility next door to the current center.

The $22 million proposal hinges on the postponed county bond package, which would delay building of the facility until at least 2017.

Kim James, the center's general manager, told the newspaper that, with the bond election pushed back for another year, the county had to find an interim solution.

James said the crowding is the price the county is paying for euthanizing fewer animals.

The center, he said, has changed its mission over the nearly 45 years since the facility was built, moving away from the public-safety aspect of keeping rabid dogs off the street to something more humane.

The center receives roughly 60 dogs a day. Only 20 are adopted on most days.

Finite resources also mean the center hasn't been able to treat all the animals that come in, leading to some with serious medical issues being euthanized.

James said he hopes hiring additional staffers will allow for more community outreach and more adoptions, which will allow sick dogs to recover from their injuries. The crowding has resulted in more dogs fighting with their kennel mates, he said.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.azstarnet.com

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