Mayor Michael Nutter has appointed eight people to Philadelphia’s new Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) board and one of them is a familiar face around Northwest Philadelphia.
Roxborough resident Garrett Elwood has joined the team responsible for taking over the city’s animal control services once the city’s contract with the Pennnsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA) expires in a few months.
Elwood founded Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia – a nonprofit organization aimed to raise awareness and bring an end to the more than 10,000 animal deaths by euthanasia in shelters across the city each year.
Over the past four years, Elwood has fostered more than 30 dogs, many of which were the most difficult cases. Some had pneumonia, others had infections and were difficult to train. He volunteered at Manayunk’s dog park, Pretzel Park, for about five years. Elwood also served as the director of economic development at the Manayunk Development Corporation for one year.
“I think we have a good team assembled, people who really care,” Elwood said of the new ACCT board.
He joins Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society’s Robin Ackerman, Karen Belfi of Blind Dog Rescue Alliance, Debbie Boyd of Project MEOW, Veterinarian Christina Fuoco, marketing and communications executive Beth Monahan, Veterinarian Matt Montresor and PSPCA’S Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Marc Peralta, on the board.
By late December – the approximate date of when PSPCA’s contract expires – Elwood will join the seven other members to take charge of Philadelphia’s animal-control services. The team’s responsibilities include running the PSPCA’s Philadelphia animal shelter.
“Pet licensing is going to be high on the list,” Elwood said of the main topics the board will discuss once an executive director is hired. “There’s an estimated 350,000 dogs in Philadelphia. The money from those licenses goes directly to life saving efforts at animal control.” So far, Elwood says the city is only 5-6 percent compliant with licensing.
The ACCT board recently held its first meeting in which they adopted the bylaws stating that the team must include a chair, president of City Council, a representative of the Animal Advisory Committee, a veterinarian with prior animal shelter experience, a veterinarian with extensive experience, someone with animal rescue experience, a community representative with a history of general business experience, a feral cat expert, and two shelter agency representatives.
The board also formed a hiring committee to find an executive director and a transition committee to facilitate the new board’s entry. The board appointed a sub-committee of volunteers assigned to engage, recruit and retain volunteers, Elwood said.
“It’s a long-term battle,” he said. “Nothing’s going to change over night.”