Another Gila County Animal Shelter success: A new home for Bear

Courtesy photo Local veteran Anthony J. Hernandez with Bear

In February the Copper Country News and Silver Belt reported on the commendable success Gila County Animal Care and Control has had over the past decade, with dramatic reversal of formerly high euthanasia rates and an ongoing commitment to find homes for all healthy, adoptable creatures under their temporary care. Here’s a new success story shared by Animal Care Worker Tina Cummings, a reminder of what can be especially positive in her line of work.

“Bear came to us as a stray, brought in by a local resident who said he was dumped by her house. His first day here at the Animal Care facility I kept him up front with me, and immediately noticed how special he was. He walked calmly on a leash, even without a leash; he was immediately social with our mascot dog, Gila; and he quickly learned basic obedience such as sit, stay and even cute  tricks like “sitting up pretty.” He rode along in the truck with me, running errands, and showed such a great temperament. He was even calm around the cats at our shelter. When he was  tricks like “sitting up pretty.” He rode along in the truck with me, running errands, and showed such a great temperament. He was even calm around the cats at our shelter. When he was ready to be released for adoption, I wanted him to go somewhere special – and I knew of a local veteran who was looking for a service dog. I took Bear to meet Anthony so he could determine if Bear was the one. Anthony called his fiancé to come meet Bear and they instantly bonded – Anthony and his fiancé are both military service veterans, and both are dealing with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). “Requirements to be a service dog include an age between eight months and three years old, with basic obedience, and having shown no aggression towards animals or people. Bear was just 22 weeks old at his time of adoption, so for now he’s bonding with his new family and continuing obedience training. “Service animals can help a soldier ease back into civilian life – helping reduce depression  and ease panic attacks, flashbacks, and reclusive behavior - and can even help a soldier remember to take medications. In reducing veteran suicides, service animals are truly life-savers. Once he is ready, Bear and Anthony will continue their training anywhere from six to nine months through the nonprofit agency “A Soldier’s Best Friend.” Trainings include specialized obedience, public outings and tasks specific towards each veteran’s PTSD or traumatic brain injury. Training and participation fees are waived for veterans; those who don’t already own a dog can have one matched to their needs, ability and space. The only cost to the veteran is transportation twice a week, or housing if they are from out of state.

“Bear has completely adjusted to his new home and his family loves him – and we so urgently want that for each and every adoptable dog that comes through our shelter doors. Our new Animal Care Facility gives us the space we need to work with all dogs who come in, socializing them to be ready for a new home. We have one named Sissy; she was what we call ‘animal-aggressive,’ but with a lot of patience and love she joined a little group of others she played well and socialized with. Now she’s completely house-trained; she knows how to sit, stay and even shake hands. Last month we had a pit bull mom with eight puppies; they were all taken by the Arizona Humane Society, and this article gives me a chance to once again give a shout-out to the Arizona Animal Welfare League, Arizona Humane Society in Phoenix and Paws and Claws Rescue in Apache Junction. Each of these partner organizations help us find “fur-ever” homes for unclaimed animals in our care, and we sincerely appreciate all they do for us. Now that we’re settled into the new facility out here near the Gila County Fairgrounds, we hope to start a volunteer program with kind people who can help our animals be less anxious here at the shelter, happier and more adoptable with extra walks, extra love and exposure to more people. If you haven’t visited us at our new facility, please do! Come see our new place, consider signing up as a volunteer – or bring home a new family member!”

Read more, like and follow us on If you’re not on Facebook, call (928) 425-5882 to inquire about dogs and cats awaiting new homes, or ask how you can volunteer as a dog walker or groomer.


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