PetSmart Charities recently announced that it has committed $2 million toward the development of a facility that will be used to house and care for animals seized as part of police investigations.
The facility will house the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Animal Safe Haven (MASH) Unit and will be the first of its kind in the United States. Not only will the new MASH Unit provide housing and medical care for seized animals, it will also serve as a space for the rehabilitation of nonviolent inmates through the human-animal bond. The rehabilitation program allows inmates to earn a training certificate for socializing animals in preparation for adoption. Over 660 inmates have graduated from the program to date.
The new facility will replace the MASH Unit’s previous facility, the Maricopa County’s First Avenue Jail facility. Human use of the complex was prohibited when it was decommissioned two decades ago. The new facility is being designed from the ground up with support from animal welfare experts to ensure that it will be suitable for the long-term care of animals living there.
“Our MASH program benefits animals, humans, and our community at large. 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.”
— Paul Penzone, Maricopa County Sheriff