ACCT Philly recently had an increase in upper respiratory cases, and also saw a stronger strain called pneumovirus, infect several dogs. Despite our best efforts to decrease the spread, we have not seen the decrease we need to, and our veterinarian determined that a clean break was necessary, guidance that was confirmed by disease management experts at the University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine program.
As of Tuesday, May 2nd, ACCT Philly will not be accepting any intakes unless they are a public safety risk, injured, or suffering and in need of humane euthanasia.
This is a temporary measure and we anticipate that this limitation of these services will last no longer than 30 days, however that will be dependent on maintaining a reduced population in the facility.
ACCT has secured a temporary satellite location on Tulip Street, where the dogs who are considered exposed will be moved. We know there are a lot of questions and have put together this FAQ in hopes of answering the questions in one place:
The following are the immediate changes being put into place until further notice:
- Owner surrenders will not be accepted unless the dog is suffering and in need of euthanasia or poses a safety risk. If you need to rehome your pet please contact our Help Desk at email@example.com
- Dogs will still be available for adoption via foster homes and medically cleared dogs will be available for adoption starting Thursday May 5th at the 111 W. Hunting Park facility.
- The facility is still open for cat adoptions, as cats are housed separately from the dogs.
- Dogs who have been “cleared” meaning their symptoms have resolved and they’ve been treated for 14 or more days, or who tested positive for pneumovirus 14 or more days ago, will be available to approved rescues for transfer and available for foster by individuals with no other dogs in the home.
- If you find a stray dog, you can find information on what to do here. If you are in a position to do so we encourage you to consider fostering them and filing a found report on our website, to give the owner the opportunity to reunite with their pet.. This keeps the dog out of the shelter and we can also connect with rescue partners in case no owner comes forward.
- While owner surrenders are not being accepted during the shutdown, anyone bringing a stray dog will be asked if they are in a position to keep the dog safely and ACCT-Philly can provide a crate, food and needed supplies. If the finder is not able to hold onto them, while an owner is located, the finder may take the dog to the PSPCA unless it is sick, injured or dangerous. All stray animals, whether held by a foster, or received at the shelter, will have their photo taken, and will be scanned for a microchip.
What is causing this?
What causes this, and are other facilities having this problem?
As Philly’s largest open admission shelter, ACCT Philly takes in nearly 18,000 annually. Despite utilizing TNR, partnering with rescues, fee waived adoptions and owner surrender appointments, ACCT Philly is frequently at capacity. Kenneling environments present challenges to shelter animals at the best of times due to the stress and noise, and can create greater challenges the longer an animal remains and the more animals that are occupying a large kenneling environment such as the space at the Hunting Ave facility.
There are several other shelters across the country who are or have faced this challenge, and we hope to quickly move into the latter category.
Is ACCT Philly working with veterinarians to try to resolve this?
Absolutely. We are working with the Bissell Pet Foundation shelter experts, and national experts from University of Florida as well as our own University of Pennsylvania. We are consulting with them every step of the way, and are very grateful for their expertise during this difficult time.
Aren’t these normal? Why is there a shutdown?
While upper respiratory infections (URI) can be common, we have been seeing a stronger strain that is in many cases, causing pneumonia, among our population. A special test called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) panel was run, and confirmed that several dogs had pneumovirus. Like shelters across the country, ACCT has been struggling with dogs staying twice as long due to a shortage of adopters and fosters, and that has led to the shelter being over capacity, housing more than 100 dogs instead of the ideal maximum of 70. While we tried to manage the population and reduce the number of cases initially, we have not seen a decrease in URI as we had hoped, and even newer dogs are testing positive for the virus. In light of this, additional precautionary measures such as the shutdown are being implemented at the recommendation of national shelter medicine experts who are consulting with ACCT Philly to address the situation.
How long will there be a shutdown?
The shutdown will be two weeks after the last dog has started to show symptoms. This is why we will not be adding new dogs to the population, as doing so restarts that two week clock. We hope to return to normal operations within 30 days.
How can I help?
Volunteer: We need volunteers to help exercise the dogs both at our shelter and when we secure a second space. We will also need volunteers to help with transport! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Donations: The cost of the additional medical care and testing for the dogs adds up quickly, and every dollar helps. You can donate by contacting email@example.com
Fosters: Foster homes with no other dogs at home are urgently needed for dogs here at the shelter, and for stray dogs during the shutdown who are unclaimed. Fill out an application here.
Adoptions If you don’t have other dogs at home, please come and adopt one of our cleared dogs, or a dog in foster care! You do not have to live local to adopt! Supply Donations: Donations of dog enrichment items are also encouraged and can be dropped off during business hours. Specifically large kongs, lickimats, kong wobblers and rope toys are all very helpful.
Keep in mind there are many ways to donate, make sure to select us as your charity for choice for Amazon Smile, host a supply drive at your office, find out if your company has a workplace giving program – these are just a few options, you can see even more on our how to help page here.