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May 28, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

AZ Giving and Leading: Fix.Adopt.Save. Campaign

  |   Video
  • Nearly 90,000 dogs and cats came into Maricopa County shelters last year, the second highest county intake in the U.S. after Los Angeles County. There is a solution. The Fix.Adopt.Save. initiative is designed to increase spay/neuter surgeries and adoptions. Heather Sheston, project manager for Fix.Adopt.Save., and Melissa Gable, a spokeswoman of Maricopa County Animal Care and Control, will discuss the issue.
  • Heather Sheston - Project Manager, Fix.Adopt.Save. Campaign
  • Melissa Gable - Spokeswoman, Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
Category: Giving/Leading   |   Keywords: giving, leading, campaign, dogs, cats, shelters, maricopa county, arizona,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Tonight's edition of Arizona giving and leading looks at a new pet adoption campaign. It's called Fix-Adopt-Save, and it's designed to increase spay and neuter surgeries, along with adoptions. Here to tell us more is Heather Sheston, project manager for Fix-Adopt-Save, and Melissa Gable of the Maricopa County animal care and control. Good to have you both here. Thanks for joining us.

Heather Sheston & Melissa Gable: Thanks for having us. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Fix-Adopt-Save. Give me a better definition.

Heather Sheston: That is a three-year collaborative initiative in Maricopa County aimed at ending pet homelessness. We have seven of our local animal welfare organizations working together. Through increasing adoptions at our local shelters and rescue groups and increasing our spay-neuter services available throughout Maricopa County.

Ted Simons: How would you do this? I would imagine that's a year-long 24/7 process. What's different about this campaign?

Heather Sheston: The difference for Fix-Adopt-Save campaign is the collaborative initiative. All of these organizations have already been doing a lot of this stuff throughout the county, but now they're working collaboratively to make a bigger impact.

Ted Simons: It sounds like there's a focus on pit bulls, on chihuahuas on cats. Is that true?

Heather Sheston: Yes, those are what we consider our high-risk breeds. So we have a lot of them coming into our shelters and we have very few making it out alive. In fact, last year we had a little over 30,000 cats come into our shelters, and about 40% of them made it out alive.

Ted Simons: Pit bulls, chihuahuas and cats. What’s going on here? I understand that next to Los Angeles County we have the most of animals turned in. What's happening out there?

Melissa Gable: We do, and I think part of the issue is here in Arizona is the animals can breed year-round, just because of our climate. And we also find, for instance, with chihuahuas, you go through that Paris Hilton trend where she has a chihuahua, Beverly Hills chihuahua comes out everyonce wants a Chihuahua, then the novelty wears off and those animals are brought to the shelter. They're wandering the streets, they're overbreeding, they’re overbred. And those animals are coming to us and let's face it, pit bulls at this particular point in time are harder to adopt than some of the other dogs.

Ted Simons: Indeed. Talk about cultural issues as well, because I understand Hispanic population maybe not as likely, I think they didn’t research on this, showing that Hispanic families and those pet owners not as likely to spay and neuter. What's that all about?

Melissa Gable: I think it's just – Like you said, it's a cultural issue. But we found that it's just an educational issue. If we go out to those neighborhoods and we explain this is why you should spay and neuter, and these are the benefits of spay and neuter, they're very open to doing it. They just aren't aware of why they should. So we're making some efforts to go out and educate the community and then to also provide those spay and neuter services at no cost to certain areas of town where we're seeing a lot of pit bulls and chihuahuas.

Ted Simons: How best do you educate folks on this? What do you do?

Heather Sheston: We've been doing a large-scale media campaign. So getting out there to the televisions, to radio, especially the Spanish speaking community, just letting people know that these spay and neuter surgeries are available for free and they're available throughout Maricopa County. It's really easy, and they can do it.

Ted Simons: As far as adoptions are concerned, how best to increase adoptions? Some folks see a dog, they want that kind of dog, they think it's a purebred, they don't realize all the obligations and -- You got so many wonderful animals just waiting to be adopted. How do you get those animals out of there?

Heather Sheston: Absolutely. So more specifically Fix-Adopt-Save campaign focuses on increasing funding for behavioral and medical treatment for dogs. So animals that might have come that wouldn't have otherwise had the funding to take care of them. And then increasing kitten fosters, so kittens that come into the system that need to go immediately to foster homes and thus become available for adoption afterwards. But people really need to know we have all types of breeds and all kinds of animals in the shelter system if they're looking for something particular, we have it. And they're a great value. They come back, they get microchipped and they already have been spayed and neutered.

Ted Simons: And a lot of them already have that foster family, we adopted a couple of cats not too long ago, and the thought whoever took care of these, we got them at three months old, whoever the foster family was, did a wonderful job. I mean, it really does make a difference.

Melissa Gable: It does because they're there and a part of what they're doing is obviously making sure that the kittens are healthy and that they're ready to go up for adoption, but they're also spending a lot of time socializing them. And making them friendly, introducing them to different situations, so that when they bring them back to the shelter, these kittens are used to kids, and other animals, and the foster family can also provide that little extra information about hey, I know that fluffy likes to do this, and doesn't like to do that. Which is helpful for a potential adopter.

Ted Simons: And again, as far as ways to get more of those animals out of there, are we missing something out there? Are -- How does Fix-Adopt-Save change all this? Or is it just basically you do the best you can and maybe work a little harder?

Melissa Gable: Well, I think we're all -- We all do believe that, we need to work a little harder, but we're also focusing on different events and things that we can do. We have an event coming up this weekend, it's the Maddy's pet adoption days. And it's a huge event across the country. Actually 14 different communities. We are one of those participating communities. It's free adoptions, and there's 40 different locations across the valley, again, it's Saturday and Sunday. And it's the Fix-Adopt-Save's partners are participating but we also have groups involved as well. So it's a great opportunity for people that maybe want to adopt, but they haven't really know what they should do, come down, and look and see some of the animals we have available, because it is, it's not just pit bulls and chihuahuas, there's some really cute animals as well.

Ted Simons: You can take a look or a lot of folks, we looked at the website. The Humane Society's website. We took a look, so that's possible as well.

Heather Sheston: Yeah. If you actually go to, we can connect you to any of our participating organizations. And you can go to each of their websites and see what animals they have available.

Ted Simons: So last question here. It seems to be a little bit of a debate on whether or not this neuter, spay, and release, these programs actually work. Is that a good idea, or is that something that you need to kind of be careful about?

Heather Sheston: If you're talking about trapping and return, free roaming cats or outdoor cats, the studies and research has shown it's really the most humane way to take care of the problem. So we do like Melissa already stated, we have wonderful weather year-round, which creates a really long mating season. We're in midst of kitten season right now so we have tons of kittens coming into the shelter that are going to need homes. So when you do the trap neuter return, the cats come into the shelters or spay neuter clinic, they fix them and they go right back to where they were before. Thus preventing them from being able to have any more litters going forward.

Ted Simons: All right. Free pet adoption this weekend, all over the place. So be aware of that. Go to your website,

Heather Sheston: Or you can go to

Ted Simons: Let's hope it's a grand success. Thanks for joining us.

Heather Sheston & Melissa Gable: Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thursday on "Arizona Horizon," another update on the special legislative session to address Arizona's child safety services. And political pundits will offer a preview of Arizona's upcoming elections. Thursday on "Arizona Horizon."

Ted Simons: That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Public/Private Service Partnerships

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  • Many challenges prevent successful collaborations between public, private and nonprofit organizations—collaborations that can lead to greater efficiencies, better service delivery and higher citizen satisfaction. Arizona State University professor David Swindell has researched the topic and will discuss his Collaborative Service Delivery project.
  • David Swindell - Professor, Arizona State University
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: business, economy, public, private, service, partnerships, service,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Successful collaboration between public, private, and nonprofit organizations can lead to greater efficiencies, better service delivery, and higher citizen satisfaction. ASU professor David Swindell joins us now to discuss how to increase the collaboration possibilities for public services. It's good to have you here. Welcome to the program.

David Swindell: Thank you so much.

Ted Simons: The collaborative service delivery project. What are we talking about here?

David Swindell: Well, governments delivers services. And there are a lot of different ways governments can do that. They can do it in house, or they can work with others to deliver those services. One of the options that many cities are looking at now is to work with other cities to jointly deliver services to all their citizens. Or work with nonprofits, or work with public -- Private sector agencies. So there's a lot of different ways of delivering those services and this is a project we're doing to try and figure out what's the best for given service and a given kind of community.

Ted Simons: And you're -- When you say services, everything from animal control, to economic development, all points in between.

David Swindell: Water services, police, fire, the works.

Ted Simons: So the barriers to collaboration possibilities for these kinds of urban services, what are they?

David Swindell: Well, the barriers are that it's tricky when you have multiple moving parts. When it's in house, the city manager or the mayor, in a strong mayor city, will have direct control over that. When you've got partners, they have their own agendas, they have their own bottom lines they're trying to meet, and so they have their own citizens trying to satisfy. So you've got multiple moving parts and it makes it a little more difficult to coordinate.

Ted Simons: Interesting. So in terms of increasing efficiencies, if that is the goal, give us an example of how that goal can be met.

David Swindell: Well, increasing efficiency is one goal. Effectiveness, equity, those are all goals. But efficiency is when we're trying to produce a service at a lower cost without sacrificing quality. And so one of the ways we dock this is through economies of scale. Certain kinds of services can be provided at a lower cost when they're provided at a larger scale. So take for instance, in police services, a forensics crime lab. That's an expensive piece of capital to have. So instead of a bunch of little suburbs around a central city, having their own crime labs, why not everybody get together working with the central city, have one crime lab they all share the cost and operations of?

Ted Simons: The operative phrase there was why not get everybody together.

David Swindell: That's the trick. You asked what the barriers were, that's one of them.

Ted Simons: Well talk about it. How do you work that dynamic, how do you get everyone together?

David Swindell: They have to see their shared benefit that comes from this. A true collaboration, they have to share costs and benefits. If they're not sharing in those benefits, it's going to be hard to keep them at the table.

Ted Simons: And it's also hard I would imagine, even for something like that, just the governance structure of it all. How does that play into it and again, are we talking about folks that have to maybe shift their mind-set a little bit to see collaboration as opposed to more provincial kind of mind-set?

David Swindell: We're seeing a lot of experimentation in cities across the country right now. Certainly it was accelerated by the recession. You've got a reduction in revenues, you still need to deliver services, how are you going to be able to do that? Let's work with others that are facing the same constraints. That was an impetus to this. So one of the challenges then that you get into is, how can we actually do this? And so identifying what are the benefits, what is everybody's role in this, and holding them accountable. That's what we typically fall down in these collaborations. If one of the parties doesn't meet a benchmark, then what is the penalty for this? And if they can get away with it once, why can’t they get away with it twice? And then the collaborations collapses.

Ted Simons: Around Arizona, the Phoenix area in particular, but around Arizona, are you seeing more of a movement in that direction?

David Swindell: There are several collaborations here, in fact we have one that I'm involved with, involving several of the communities within the valley, including Phoenix. We call it the benchmarking group. They're looking at a whole range of different kinds of services ostensibly to measure across different jurisdictions to see how are we all doing? But in the course of doing that, it's a really important first step because if you want to have collaboration on particular services, like shared permitting for instance, then you might need to have a consistent measuring -- A measurement for deciding how you're going to actually do permitting. So this benchmarking project is one in which we've got individuals working together, talking, building the trust, and what comes out of that is going to be much more than just a benchmark.

Ted Simons: I would imagine, and this is just a guess here, but another barrier might be like mismatched procedures for the same services.

David Swindell: Exactly. That is a real challenge. In fact, one of the ways that communities sometimes collaborate is through actually consolidating services. And so in any -- In Indianapolis, for instance, a City-county consolidation, but they didn't consolidate the sheriff and the police until a few years ago. And when they consolidated the sheriff and the police, they realized that, oh there's actually a few different things we don't do the same. And so we had to standardize the cars, we had to standardize the uniforms, we had to standardize communications, all these other things that are costs that we didn't take into account before.

Ted Simons: Now, and again, so we're maybe seeing a little move in this direction, hopefully as far as your research and your project here, maybe more of a push in that direction. Are we seeing other parts of the country where they're really going in that direction?

David Swindell: Oh, yeah there. Are thousands of examples of these kinds of collaborations. As well as other alternative service delivery mechanisms. Contracting out, franchising, whole bunch of things. Collaboration is just one of these options. And so finding communities that are working together, for instance, there's a really good example in Nevada where the county took over animal control services. Two of the communities in the county already had animal control services of their own, in sparks. They decided, we'll sacrifice the service, give it to the county, the county will do this, we'll build a new facility and a nonprofit agency comes in they put in $2 million into the facility, they run the adoption component, the county owns the project -- The shelter itself and operates the shelter component. So it's a true collaboration where everybody has skin in the game.

Ted Simons: Last question here. You mentioned nonprofit. Talk about the impact of nonprofit, the impact of private companies wanting to get in the game.

David Swindell: That's really an interesting challenge cuz you have these different cultures obviously. What motivates them is quite different. So working together you've got to really identify what are the benefits all the parties will gain from a collaboration, and how are you going to be able to actually help everybody share the cost, but also share the benefits?

Ted Simons: People paying attention to this study? Are you getting some folks to look at this thing?

David Swindell: We get a lot of professionals in the game, city manager types that are paying attention, so we want to get that word out and try and encourage as many communities as possible to look at this as a viable tool for them.

Ted Simons: Interesting stuff. Good to have you. Thanks for joining us.

David Swindell: Thanks so much.

Special Legislative Session

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  • Get an update on the special legislative session on day two of three scheduled days with Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer.
  • Howard Fischer - Journalist, Capitol Media Services
Category: Legislature   |   Keywords: legislature, legislative, session, special, update,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.

Ted Simons: It's day two of a special legislative session to overhaul Arizona's much maligned child safety system. Here with an update is Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services. Good to have you here. I know you've been down there for all of this, which should wrap up tomorrow. Anything big happen today?

Howard Fischer: The senate did give final approval, which was surprising. We thought they'd wait until Thursday. There was some debate over issues on both sides of the equation. On one hand you had people like Kelly ward and Andy Biggs who wanted what they call benchmarks. They're pointing out that the bill asks for 59 million and change, for an agency that’s already starting the year with 760 million, and they said, look, we want two things. Number one, we want to make sure by October 1st you've hired those caseworkers you say you're going hire, and you said you can do that, and number two, what's your plan for getting rid of this backlog, this 14,700 case, just have the plan. And present it to us. And of course the governor's office has said no, no, we can't have any strings attached to this at all. And even a lot of people I think who support the idea of the benchmark said, do we really want a gubernatorial veto.

Ted Simons: So the benchmarks are adios.

Howard Fischer: Correct. However, despite all the talk this was supposed to be as negotiated, senator Taylor managed to add $3 million. A million dollars for more subsidized child care on top of the 4 million in the bill, a million dollars for grandparent subsidies for the grandparents who agree to take the kids that are taken out of the home and a million dollars for support services. Now, the governor's office, when I called them on that said, well, it wasn't part of the plan but the governor believes in preventive services so that's OK.

Ted Simons: So there are strings and there are strings.

Howard Fischer: There are strings, and you know, our strings are better than your strings.

Ted Simons: And those strings, I understand Chester Crandall, interesting fellow at the legislature, in a variety of ways, brought up an interesting topic regarding money and the agency.

Howard Fischer: Well, Chester is very good at looking at data. And he said, look. I'm looking at caseloads going back 10 years. We had a drop in 2009 of number of reports of abuse and neglect. All of a sudden we're adding more money, now we have an increase. So tell me, you know, Mr. Arnold, the governor's budget director, tell me why we should belief that adding another 60 million now is going to help matters. John Arnold said, well, you know, I don't know. He said, look. Normally you go into recession, you have an increase in abuse and neglect. We didn't have that this time. Other states are not seeing the increase we've had. So why? He said, tell you what. Give us money for a new data system and we'll be able to tell you two years down the road why these things connect. So it left I think a lot of lawmakers frustrated that we're being asked to put million in on faith.

Ted Simons: Basically, as an overview here, do we know what first of all what's it called? Do we have a new title for this agency?

Howard Fischer: The official title is now the department of child safety. Originally they were flirting with the child services family services, eventually it kind of came down to DCS sounds good. It also mirrors what other states do.

Ted Simons: With that in mind, what is the agency designed to do? What is the purpose of the agency? Is there a definition now, an overriding kind of a mission statement that everyone can kind of grab on to?

Howard Fischer: Well, in simplest forms, it is to protect children, keep children safe. Now, the question of what that means of course is in the eye of the beholder. I’ll give you a perfect example. Senator Ableser is a family counselor. He wanted the definition changed to protect children from abuse and preserve the family. And the reason he wanted to emphasize abuse, he said, look, we've got this definition in existing law of what constitutes neglect. You don't provide children certain food, certain warmth or coolness as the case may be for the summer, you got some 22-year-old caseworker who thinks they've got a case here but they can't prove abuse so they say, oh it's neglect, take the child out. He actually got that amendment approved in committee and then folks said do, we want to monkey with that on the floor? So it got stripped out. But it goes to the issue we have talked about around this table now for 20 years. Which is that pendulum swinging back and forth. At the first sign of any problems do we take the child so we make sure we don't have a dead child and a Lori Roberts story, or is our aim to preserve the family, which is more of what Ableser wants? He said maybe sometimes do you the service and you don't have to take the child.

Ted Simons: Where is that pendulum? I realize now enforcement is a major issue here, and just out of curiosity, preventative measures, preventative services. Did that get much conversation today?

Howard Fischer: There is some money in there for prevention. Not as much as a lot of folks would want. They -- The supporters in the bill say, yeah, but there's a new division of prevention. Well, depending on how much money you've got. This comes down to the issue of subsidized child care. If you're a working parent, and you want to work, where do you leave your kid? If it going to cost you as much as you're making to do the child care, do you want to do that? So you end up with kids being left alone or in unsafe situations which is why the issue of more subsidized child care. But there is nowhere near the amount of money that's needed. You've got perhaps close to 30,000 parents who otherwise qualify under the statute, but because of the limited money, they're not getting it. So what are they doing with their kids?

Ted Simons: And back to the idea of the pendulum, it sounds as though from a distance it sounds as though getting those kids out is maybe -- We're back to that side as opposed to preserving the family.

Howard Fischer: I think there is a little bit of a move in that direction for a couple of reasons. Number one, as you point out, there isn't a lot of money for prevention in there, and number two, there's actually more emphasis on the abuse end of it and the criminal end of it that they want -- That if anything rises to a criminal level, they want people with police experience in there. Get the kid out, and prosecute the parents. Now, is this the last word? Will we be monkeying with this for years? Certainly.

Ted Simons: But as far as what's happening in this session, is this a done deal just waiting to be a done deal?

Howard Fischer: Pretty much. The house has got to take it up tomorrow, I'm assuming that there will be some floor amendments because lawmakers like to touch things and monkey with them. But I don't see any major changes here. Some of the changes put in today, for example, were minor. It requires, for example, DCS to work with the federal Indian child welfare laws and things like that. I think this is pretty much it and I think folks realize, look, put it together, let's go home, let's see how it works, and we'll be back in January or some of them will be back in January, to take a closer look.

Ted Simons: So senate wraps it up tomorrow with a third read, house should get its business done so they should be out this -- By tomorrow with a brand-new agency.

Howard Fischer: The brand-new agency. Now, technically speaking that agency may not start until July 1st. The other interesting thing is that Charles Flanigan, who was tapped by the governor, there has been no actual appointment made because the agency doesn't exist, and he will have to go through confirmation next year. So his you know what is going to be on the line if he doesn't perform.

Ted Simons: Speaking of you know whats on the line, any input at all from Clarence Carter at all?

Howard Fischer: Clarence Carter has sort of disappeared below the waves. The last time we actually asked the governor, so, is Clarence going to pay for this? And she said that's old history. I don't want to deal with it.

Ted Simons: All right.

Howard Fischer: He's still there, what's left of the department of economic security.

Ted Simons: I tell you what, we'll discuss this in even greater detail on Friday on "The Journalists' Round Table." Howie, good to have you here. And we'll get this thing wrapped up tomorrow and see if this doesn't address just this continuing problem.

Howard Fischer: We will be here discussing this next year too, Ted.

Ted Simons: Probably. Thanks, Howie.