Aug 30, 2023 - News

Philadelphia's main animal shelter euthanizing more dogs

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Philadelphia's primary animal shelter, ACCT Philly, is seeing intake rates for dogs rise from pandemic-era lows.

Why it matters: The influx has caused a space crunch and led to a rise in the number of dogs that are put down at the shelter.

Driving the news: ACCT's dog euthanasia rate last year was almost 11% — up from 5.4% in 2020, per the nonprofit's online database.

  • The shelter took in nearly 5,100 dogs in 2022 compared to about 4,000 in 2020.
  • With the higher numbers, ACCT has resorted to setting up temporary kennels and converting a storage room into an isolation area for sick dogs.

What they're saying: Euthanizing dogs due to a lack of space was a difficult decision, ACCT's executive director Sarah Barnett tells Axios.

  • "[People] don't understand that none of us want to, but when you are trying to minimize disease risk to the hundreds of dogs who will enter in the coming weeks, and you have 100+ dogs coming in each week, there are really tough decisions we have to make," she said.
  • The shelter is simultaneously contending with rising costs of caring for its animals, including spending more on food and cleaning supplies.

What's happening: Housing-related issues — including eviction and homelessness — are prompting people to give up their dogs.

  • Owners' unrealistic expectations are another top reason leading to surrenders.

Between the lines: While the COVID-19 lockdowns led to a spike in animal adoptions nationwide, Barnett said ACCT isn't seeing many returns of pandemic pets in particular.

  • And the shelter's dog adoption rate is up slightly compared to 2020.

The big picture: Animal intakes at both public and private shelters across the country are expected to reach a three-year high, and adoptions or returns to owners are not keeping pace, according to the Shelter Animals Count database (SAC).

  • About 51,000 dogs were euthanized from January to July 2023, a 37% increase from that same period in 2022, according to data submitted by organizations that report to SAC.

How you can help: ACCT says there are several ways.

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