In a record shattering year, euthanasia fell to a record low in 2014 at Philadelphia’s animal control shelter managed by the nonprofit Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT Philly). The number of animals euthanized tumbled by 29% from 10,355 in 2013 to 7,383 (or 26% of incoming animals of all types) in 2014, a reduction of nearly 3,000 animals.


Key contributing factors in the reduction of euthanasia included expanded adoption and foster care programs and intake reduction strategies with the support of national organizations.

2014 saw the grand opening of the Everyday Adoption Center in PetSmart, Plymouth Meeting with housing for both dogs and cats made possible by PetSmart Charities Inc. Through this and ACCT Philly’s other adoption locations and adoption events, adoptions hit a six year high with just over 8,200 placements.


Foster care saves the lives of animals too young to be adopted as well as animals in need of medical recuperation or helping to relieve shelter overcrowding.  With grant support from Best Friends Animal Society our foster care program handled 3,887 animals, or 14% of ACCT Philly’s total annual animal shelter population. Each of these animals spent time in the homes of hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

foster care

Key partnerships with The Humane Society of the United States’ Pets For Life program and Best Friends Animal Society’s Community Cats Program, as well as shelter strategies to focus intake solely on the animals most at risk in our community helped reduce intake by 9% compared to 2013 and established a six year low.

Incoming animals

Year over year emphasis on improvements at reuniting lost pets with their owners and helping pet owners recover their pets after surrender or impound ACCT Philly has achieved an increase in owner returns that exceeded 1,000 animals for the first time in recorded history. Strategies including Philadelphia resident dog licensing and community involvement in ACCT Philly’s Lost and Found Pets Philadelphia Facebook page have helped reunite more animals than ever before, with some finding their way home without even having to enter the shelter. Animals returned to their owners accounted for 4% of all incoming animals and 6% of incoming stray animals up from a six year low of 2% and 4% respectively.

Return to Owner

ACCT Philly reports monthly and annually on its Live Release Rate. Live Release Rate examines outcomes, specifically the rate of animals who had a “live” exit such as adoption, as opposed to being euthanized at the shelter. ACCT Philly uses an industry standard Asilomar Live Release Rate formula. ACCT Philly has not previously subtracted out the euthanasia of animals brought to the shelter at the end of their lives when owners could not afford humane euthanasia at a veterinarian’s office (owner requested euthanasia) nor animals whose euthanasia is required by law such as rabies vector species. The Live Release Rate accounts for all incoming animals and in 2014 hit a record high of 72%. When adjusted for end-of-life owner intended euthanasia the Adjusted Live Release Rate for dogs was 74% and the Adjusted Live Release Rate for cats was 75%.

live release rate

Through our partnership with Best Friends Animal Society we will begin tracking our Save Rate for dogs and cats. The Save Rate is a different formula than the Live Release Rate. Save Rate examines the rate of intakes that have not resulted in euthanasia or death whereas Live Release Rate does not take intakes into consideration. In the charts below the Save Rate reflects owner intended euthanasia beginning in 2014. 2014 saw a 74% Save Rate for dogs and a 73% Save Rate for cats.

Save Rate

cat save rate

Thank you for being a part of Philadelphia’s success! There’s still more work to do however, so here’s to another record setting year in 2015!