Rescue Me Tucson’s board and volunteers want to help all animals find their forever homes.
The nonprofit operates Rescue Me Marana, a collaborative-based pet adoption center that aids multiple Tucson and Southern Arizona rescues and shelters.
Rescue Me Tucson board president Nancy Young Wright said the center provides consumers with a compassionate alternative to pet stores selling mill-bred puppies and kittens at its Rescue Me Marana Pet Adoption Center at Tucson Premium Outlets in Marana.
Open since Sept. 18, 2021, it features eight cat condos, five large dog suites and five small dog kennels that allow boarding for animals from participating rescue groups.
“We’re here to help more than the traditional (centers),” she said.
“Ours is for more than one group to use. We wanted to make it a little easier for people to find the animals. People say it’s more ‘pleasant.’ Not everybody feels comfortable in a big shelter. The concept was to make it more accessible for people who want to see them.”
It will celebrate its first anniversary on Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18, at its Rescue Me Marana, Tucson Premium Outlets, 6401 W. Marana Center Boulevard, Suite 902.
The activities include a “Be a Superhero for Pets” photo booth; door prizes; discounts on ID tags; samples from Dogs n’ Donuts; and dog and cat adoptions from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The animals arrive via High Desert Humane and Pima Paws for Life (Saturday); and Valley Humane Society (Sunday). Something Glitzy Tattoos will offer temporary tattoos for a donation benefiting Rescue Me Marana from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The public is asked to bring dontions of dry or canned dog, puppy, cat and kitten food for Cody’s Friends Charity, which distributes food to rescues, shelters and individuals in need. Rescue Me Marana will continue collecting after the event.
Rescue Me Tucson’s Marana model is based on the Best Friends No Kill Center in Los Angeles. Rescue Me Marana is the first collaborative-based pet adoption center in Arizona. Best Friends and the Humane Society of the United States provided COVID-19 relief grants to keep the nonprofit alive.
“They (Best Friends) proposed that we try it in Tucson,” Wright said.
“I used to be on the HSUS Arizona State Council. I started getting involved with veterinarians to go on reservations and host clinics.”
Wright is passionate still about helping the overflowing number of animals on reservations. The animals come to Rescue Me Tucson and it helps adopt them out.
“We’re really interested in what we can do to help these areas,” she said. “You can raise money in Phoenix or Tucson for rescue needs. It’s hit really, really hard in rural areas. They’re just isolated from vet care and things like that.”
Since it opened, it has adopted out more than 440 animals.
“We’re doing about what we hoped we would do,” she said.
“Nationwide, the average length of stay is three days in a place like this. Ours is about four days. We feel pretty good about that. We’re small. We don’t have a big advertising budget. We’re a smaller place. We’re an extension of a shelter, but we’re not a shelter.”
If prospective pet parents don’t see a dog or cat they like, Rescue Me Tucson connects them with a list of regional resources to help them find a rescue animal.
“If that doesn’t work, we tell them everything we know and how to search for them,” Wright said.
Wright’s passion comes from growing up in rural New Mexico where she grew up with animals.
“That doesn’t mean they had proper vet care or lived inside,” she said.
“I always cared about them from growing up in that area. I realize how difficult it is for people to access basic vet care.”
Some must make 50-mile trips each way for their animals to be seen by a vet.
“It’s heartbreaking to see what people are faced with in these areas,” she said. “There’s a lot of discussion out there on how to help more.”
Summers are the hardest time for animal welfare folks as many animals are born, but residents are gone. Pima County Animal Control is struggling with 450 dogs, which is an incredible load, she said.
“Everybody’s just dancing together in a big swirl out there,” Wright said.
“We get calls every day, ‘Please help me. I don’t know what to do.’ We have a referral service. We do try to give people ideas and solutions. Still, people are crying. I wish I had a master’s in social work.”
If you go
WHAT: Rescue Me Tucson First Anniversary Celebration
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18; visit website for hours
WHERE: Tucson Premium Outlets, 6401 W. Marana Center Boulevard, Suite 902, Marana
COST: Free admission