PetSmart Charities donates $2 million to new MCSO safe haven animal facility

PHOENIX (FOX 10) - Since the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office first opened its MASH Unit doors at the Fourth Avenue jail in 2000, thousands of rescued animals have been adopted and hundreds of inmates have been trained.

Today, MCSO announced a new MASH Unit is coming to the Durango facility, creating a better safe haven for canines and felines they care for.

A great start to achieve that goal comes in the form of a generous donation given by PetSmart Charities, the largest donation the non-profit has ever given to a prison program.

"In celebration of the great work that the sheriff and his team have done in supporting the bond between people and pets and we hope that it will continue to impact the community at large in all the ways that we think it will," Deb Turcot said.

Besides improving the living quality and care for the animals of the unit, Sheriff Penzone also says the $2 million donation will help in providing more benefits for inmates.

"For the females in our custody who are separated from their children so they can care for the animals and learn about care and compassion, for the veterans in our population who deal with PTSD and anxiety issues so they can have an animal friend to feel responsible and they can share love and for juveniles who are remanded into our care as adults that are still young men and who are a friend that they can be responsible for and also those who are recovering from drug addiction," he said.

The estimated cost to build the new facility will be between $8 and $10 million, a price tag Sheriff Penzone says the department made a priority to pay for 100 percent through private donations.