Phoenix Animal Welfare Solutions

The Problem

Phoenix dogs are needlessly suffering and dying. Underserved communities are at a much higher risk of dog bites and dog attacks from homeless dogs roaming these areas due to uncontrolled over-population as a result of unenforced animal cruelty/neglect ordinances in our city. This is a community health and safety issue that continues to expand in magnitude as our city’s population grows.

  • Animal over-population predominately impacts underserved communities within the city.
  • ​​Unchecked backyard breeding without any owner accountability continues to exacerbate the problem within underserved communities.
  • No law enforcement accountability or owner accountability for animal cruelty/neglect/backyard breeding hence, the problem continues as animals are born to suffer and the cycle goes on.

How/Why This Is Happening?

The City of Phoenix is under contract with the AZ Humane Society (AZHS), a third-party contractor, to provide support of city-led animal abuse and neglect investigations according to the contract.

  • AZHS has no contractual responsibility to enforce animal cruelty/neglect ordinances.
  • AZHS not contractually obligated to take action on complaints reported by any one other than the City of Phoenix PD, including individuals, animal welfare non-profits, etc.
  • The City of Phoenix Police Department is responsible for investigating animal abuse and neglect ordinance violations, however they direct complaints to AZHS which is not under any obligation to address the complaint.
  • Per the contract, AZHS provides “support” to the City only – acts when directed by the City of Phoenix PD.
  • AZHS applies “discretion” when assessing animal cruelty or neglect complaints. AZHS is not obligated to take action on a concerned citizens call.
  • AZHS is motivated to show high adoption rates and lower euthanasia rates to incentivize donations. AZHS rarely, if ever, takes action on abused/neglected dogs considered “unadoptable” to control costs and limit the number of animals within their shelters.
  • There does not appear to be oversight or transparency with respect to any metrics or data collected by AZHS on City of Phoenix animal abuse and neglect complaints. As a result, the magnitude of the problem within our community is ignored.
  • Animal abuse and neglect cases in underserved communities remain rampant. The abusers continue to abuse because there is no enforced owner accountability.
  • Although Maricopa County Animal Care & Control provides animal sheltering facilities and services, it points to the city when citizens raise animal cruelty and neglect complaints.
  • Maricopa County Animal Care & Control does not actively enforce animal licensing ordinances.

In summary, if the City of Phoenix Police Department points to the AZHS for animal cruelty and neglect complaints, and Maricopa County Care & Control points to the City of Phoenix for animal cruelty and neglect complaints, but the AZHS is not contractually obligated to take these complaints from any entity/individual other than the City of Phoenix PD…this creates an endless Bermuda Triangle of preventable animal abuse and neglect in the City of Phoenix.

The Proposal/Solution

Phoenix Animal Welfare Solutions (P.A.W.S.) – A Citizens’ Initiative

Increasing Pet Owner Accountability → Safer Neighborhoods → Improved Animal Welfare

Update Animal Ordinances To Improve Enforceability

Identify and present more specific language for PHX City Code Section 8-3.08 defining restraint of a dog and define/put parameters around “extreme weather conditions”. Clearer descriptions will improve enforceability. Including a clear definition of “shelter”.

Expand the Scope of Neighborhood Services to Enforce Animal Licensing Ordinances

Modify current Neighborhood Services “Tell the City About” functionality on the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services webpage, myPHX311 app to allow citizens to report animal abuse & neglect. These complaints can be managed by the following steps:


  • Notice sent informing owner of licensing requirements and penalties for not licensing animals per city ordinance.
  • Direct owners to community resources that offer discounted spay & neuter services (groups must agree to be on the list).
  • Owners required to provide confirmation of compliance with city ordinances regarding neglect/abuse and licensing requirements.
  • Impose fines for non-compliance and/or repeat offenders.
  • Escalate to Phoenix Police as needed.​

Establish inter-governmental agreement between Phoenix Neighborhood Services and Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to collect and share information on animal licensing compliance in response to an animal abuse or neglect complaint

  • Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to provide resources to investigate repeat animal cruelty/neglect complaints.
  • Maricopa County Animal Care and Control to work with City Neighborhood Services to enforce animal licensing ordinances in response to an animal cruelty or neglect complaint.
  • Enforcing Animal Licensing Ordinances increases pet owner accountability in our underserved communities and disincentivizes unregulated backyard breeding.

Update third-party animal welfare contract (currently with AZHS) to Increase Transparency of Animal Abuse/Neglect Cases

  • Third-party animal welfare contractor (AZHS) coordinates with Neighborhood Services to track animal abuse and neglect cases to resolution. Learn more about the city’s contract with AZHS.
  • Third-party animal welfare contractor (AZHS) to share info on all calls received regarding animal neglect/abuse complaints with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control and Neighborhood Services so they may follow-up on licensing.

Based on data provided by the City of Phoenix, on average over 5,500 animal cruelty complaints/investigations per year have been recorded, with many more cases going unreported. This is an average of over 15 complaints per day! This endless year-after-year cycle of senseless cruelty will not change until systemic changes are made to Phoenix animal neglect/cruelty ordinances and how they are enforced.

Call to action

What you can do:

If you have not already done so, please license your pets at the appropriate pet licensing department for your place of residence. This funding is important for services provided in our communities for the benefit of all.

PAWS – Concerned Citizen

Council Member AZHS Contract & Enforcement – Download the contract below.

Email address for City of Phoenix City Council Members:

Mayor Kate Gallego:

Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari:

District 1 Ann O’Brien:

District 2 Jim Waring:

District 3 Debra Stark:

District 4 Laura Pastor:

District 5 Betty Guardado:

District 6 Kevin Robinson:

District 7 Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari:

District 8 Kesha Hodge Washington:

Show your support

Become a Poverty’s Pets Supporter by submitting your information and a supporting message to help the movement.