Head of ACCT, Philly's largest animal shelter, resigns

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The head of Philadelphia's largest animal shelter has resigned.

Executive Director Susan Russell turned in her resignation into the board of directors for the Animal Care and Control Team Philly, also known as ACCT.

"I found out everything this morning. I was getting ready for work, and I got the email that a meeting was going to happen. We come in, and that's when Susan announced she was resigning," said Blake Martin, ACCT Philly's communication director.

The shelter has been the center of controversy following dog deaths and an investigation into unsanitary conditions in the shelter.

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ACCT Philly volunteers say conditions inside are deplorable. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on June 7, 2019.

In Russell's letter to the board, she said, "While there have been some challenges, together we have also had many successes."

Here is the full statement from ACCT with Russell's resignation statement:

Today, the Board of Directors for Animal Care and Control Team (ACCT) Philly accepted the resignation of Executive Director Susan Russell.

"It has been a truly rewarding experience to serve the animals and people of Philadelphia," said Russell. "While there have been some challenges, together we have also had many successes. I was proud to be a part of ACCT's first Gala, and to increase of live release rates-more than 90 percent for dogs and roughly 88 percent for cats in the first half of 2019."

The members of the Board of Directors are dedicated to guiding and supporting ACCT Philly staff through this transition. The search for a new executive director will begin immediately.

The City of Philadelphia and ACCT Philly's Board of Directors thank Susan Russell for her dedication to the organization and wish her continued success in the next chapter of her career.

The announcement comes less than a year after Russell took the job.

Russell put a spotlight on her successes in her resignation letter, without offering a reason why she is stepping down.

Meanwhile, we spoke with several ACCT volunteers who say the heart of the problem is that Russell did not have the resources needed to fix the problems she adopted.

Volunteer Peggy Jackson says any judgment made about Russell's tenure needs to be based on her love of animals and her dedication to this shelter.

"This is the first person I've very seen from the executive director's office get down and be in the kennels and be visible, and know so many people by first name. I don't know that any of the previous administrations would know to say hello to me and know my name after being here for years," said Jackson.

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ACCT Philly suspends adoptions, intakes after spike in kennel cough. Annie McCormick has more on Action News at 5 p.m. on May 18, 2019.

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