‘Everybody really stepped up’: ACCT Philly places 150+ dogs in new homes over the weekend

A recent surge of canine flu has presented a unique challenge for many animal rescues, but ACCT Philly says the crunch to get animals into stable homes is “urgent every day.”

Sarah has her mask knocked down by Gillagan the dog

Sarah Barnett, executive director of ACCT Philly, has her mask knocked down by Gillagan in December 2021. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

As canine illnesses continue to impact local animal rescues, Philadelphians leaped into action over the weekend to adopt or foster more than 150 dogs.

Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control Team said last week it needed to relocate dozens of dogs by Monday to make room for a temporary quarantine unit that can only accommodate 50 dogs.

So, ACCT Philly, the city’s only open-intake animal shelter, put out a plea for adoptions, offering to waive adoption fees for larger breeds, free vaccinations and microchipping, and gift cards for fosters.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

In response, 152 dogs — more than double the initial goal of 70 dogs — were placed in homes in the past week, according to Executive Director Sarah Barnett.

“Everybody really stepped up, which was really incredible to see. I think it kind of renews faith and gives us a little bit of hope.” Barnett said. “If these people can continue to step up during the year — even just the fostering, if the people who sign up would continue to foster all year, we would not euthanize dogs for space.”

While a recent surge of canine flu is presenting a unique challenge for many animal rescues, Barnett said at ACCT, the crunch to get animals into stable homes is “urgent every day.”

“If these dogs don’t find homes, they are facing possible euthanasia. “It’s something no one wants to say, and no one wants to talk about, but that is the reality based on the volume of animals coming in right now.” she said.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

ACCT takes in roughly 400 dogs each month. A boost in adoptions during the early years of the pandemic has since subsided, and rising inflation has led to an increase in pet surrenders across the country.

Because of this, more animals are being timestamped for euthanasia at the shelter due to a lack of space, as opposed to untreatable health or behavioral concerns.

“If people would just realize that urgency is the urgency that got everyone to act right now is actually something that’s constant for us at the shelter.” Barnett said. “The big takeaway is don’t wait for a crisis because honestly, we’ve been in a crisis for years and so have rescues and shelters in the area. It shouldn’t take us having to say this dog is going to die unless you help them in order for people to step up.”

For those interested in adopting a pet, applications can be filled out online.

Further information

Get the WHYY app!

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal