Cat euthanasia rate drops dramatically in Philly

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There’s good news for Philadelphia-area animal lovers: The rate of cat euthanasia is down dramatically.

Those who run the city’s animal control shelter say more cat foster parents are helping save feline lives.

Cat euthanasia was down by 50 percent last month at The Animal Care and Control Team, the nonprofit that manages Philadelphia’s animal control shelter, compared with June of 2013.

“For kittens alone we actually saw a decrease of 72 percent,” said Sue Cosby, executive director.

The group took in 1,682 cats in June, Cosby said. Of those, 459 were euthanized.

“Which is half of what we did last year. So we’re saving more lives than ever before,” she said.

The drop in euthanasia is thanks, in large part, to an influx of funding that allowed the shelter to stay open in the evenings, so foster parents can stop by after work to check out the kittens.

“This year we received a generous grant from the Best Friends Animal Society of $50,000, and that has really helped boost our foster care for kittens. Since receiving the grant we’ve had a 44 percent increase in cat foster care.”

When very young kittens are brought to the shelter, they must wait until they’re 8 weeks old to be adopted under Pennsylvania law.

Cosby said putting kittens in foster care gives them a chance to grow old enough to be adopted. Because so many cats are brought in every day, she said, the shelter can quickly run out of space. Rescue partners also are helping decrease cat euthanasia by helping even more with foster care.

The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society is one rescue group that’s credited with the turnaround by pulling animals out of the ACCT shelter. Kittens are fostered until they are old enough to be adopted.

“In June we embarked on our annual foster challenge where we encourage our community to come forward and join us and rise to the challenge to take kittens home,” said Melissa Levy, PAWS executive director. “And they did in droves. So we sent 184 cats and kittens into foster care in the month of June.”

Levy said that’s a dramatic increase of more than 20 percent over 2013.

PAWS has been able to save more animals because it recently opened a new clinic in Northeast Philadelphia that includes housing for cats and kittens awaiting foster homes.

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