ACCT Philly faces crisis as pet surrenders reach all-time high

A respiratory virus has also broken out among the dogs.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- ACCT Philly is juggling multiple crises at once. They are seeing a record number of pet surrenders which has led to overcrowding.

A respiratory virus has also broken out among the dogs.

The property owner of the former Saint Leo's School in Tacony generously donated the building to serve as an emergency shelter.

ACCT Philly officials put exposed dogs in the school to quarantine.

About six dogs were medically cleared Friday to return to ACCT Philly's Hunting Park location.

"There's not enough adopters, not enough fosters, and then you've got an increase in people giving up their animals for a variety of reasons," said Sarah Barnett, ACCT Philly's co-interim executive director. "Some are pandemic related, and some aren't. Some people have reached a breaking point and we're seeing a lot of eviction surrenders."

Barnett says animal care at the alternative site is being staffed by Brandywine Valley SPCA, which has provided supplies and personnel to help set up and take on some of the costs.

ACCT Philly is also working with the Bissell Pet Foundation, which has provided additional funding and resources critical to setting up the shelter and supporting staff.

ACCT's shelters have been over capacity for months. In addition, they have a hiring crisis.

More than half of the agency's 24 animal care positions are vacant.

Barnett says the decision to close was not easy but was recommended by the organization's veterinarian and confirmed by disease management, experts at the University of Florida Maddie's Shelter Medicine Program, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The steps being taken are approved by the City of Philadelphia and the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.

"We need the community to come together, and we need more people problem solving in the community," added Barnett.

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