(PHILADELPHIA, PA) August 17th – The Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT Philly) is proud to announce that starting August 17th, all pet owners wishing to surrender their healthy pet must make an appointment with client services staff from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Walk-in and same day appointments will be accommodated whenever possible.  The move to scheduled admissions for owners surrenders will help the city contracted animal control shelter better anticipate and control the number of pets coming through their doors on any given day, allowing staff to effectively prepare and avoid euthanasia to create space.

“We are ready and excited to take this progressive step forward,” said Vincent Medley, ACCT Philly Executive Director. “We are following the lead of many shelters across the country that have made this change and experienced an impressive drop in intake.”

Scheduled owner surrenders, or “managed intake”, is not a new concept in the animal welfare world. The Association of Shelter Veterinarians, as well as the highly esteemed UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine program, recommends the implementation of scheduled owner surrenders as a proactive way to manage the flow of animals through a shelter. Controlling the number of pets coming into a shelter can be difficult for open intake shelters performing animal control services, like ACCT Philly.

“Our contract requires that we accept all incoming animals, and we are the only shelter in the city to provide this crucial service,” said Dr. Hillary Herendeen, V.M.D., ACCT Philly’s medical director. “But if we can avoid accepting pets into an overcrowded shelter by limiting the number of owner surrenders each day, we decrease the risk of euthanasia. When we only take in the number of pets we have resources to care for, we save lives.”

ACCT Philly is already seeing positive results.  A soft launch of the new policy rolled out on August 6th, when the shelter was extremely full.  In an attempt to avoid euthanasia, staff began asking owners wishing to surrender if they would be willing to wait a week. Almost everyone said yes, and when the time came the following week to bring their pet in, “multiple people called to cancel their appointments; they decided to keep their pet or had rehomed the pet on their own,” said Carmen Alvarez, Client Services Supervisor.

“What we have experienced so far is encouraging and anecdotally shows that people want to do the right thing, not just for their pet, but to help all the shelter animals,” said Audra Houghton, Director of Operations at ACCT Philly.  “We also understand that some people may need to immediately surrender their pet, or may become upset when asked to come back.  Every situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and we will do everything we can to accommodate an individual’s needs.”

The policy is still too new for hard numbers to show a downward trend in intake and euthanasia, but ACCT Philly has high expectations. Monthly statistics are available at the beginning of the following month, and August statistics will reflect this new policy. View currently available statistics here.

More information about the owner surrender process, in addition to resources to help those considering surrender avoid it all together, can be found on ACCT Philly’s website.