What to Know
- Councilman Allan Domb said in a letter to the ACCT board and city officials that Philadelphia pays $238 per animal at its shelter.
- A recent study, Domb cited, shows Philadelphia funding well below other big cities, where funding is $350 to $475 per animal.
- The Philly animal shelter, known as ACCT, has no full-time medical director or veterinarians, according to Domb and a longtime volunteer.
Philadelphia's animal shelter, chronically underfunded and well-behind other big cities' shelters according to a recent study, needs nearly $500,000 in additional funding, City Councilman Allan Domb said in a recent letter to the shelter's board.
Domb, who sits on the board, said he will propose an immediate cash infusion of $480,000 from city coffers to help pay for new hires, including a medical director, veterinarians and animal care assistants.
"I saw the conditions and it broke my heart," Domb, who joined the board of the city Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) last spring, said of his initial visit to the Hunting Park facility. "Clearly, that facility is not sufficient to maintain the well-being of animals coming in."
But ACCT's lack of staff leadership is also a problem for animal care and long-term planning, Domb said in an interview Wednesday.
"We're not allocating enough resources," he added.
NBC10 previously reported on turnover at the top of ACCT's leadership, after the organization's second executive director in less than a year departed in August. Earlier in the year, the City Controller questioned spending and management at the shelter from 2015 through mid-2018.
Domb said he needs to gather support from other members of Council, but hopes to secure the additional funding through a balance transfer ordinance within the next 30 to 45 days.
In his letter to ACCT's board of directors dated Sept. 9, he pointed to a Cornell University study completed in April that found the City of Philadelphia pays about $238 per animal, "significantly less than other comparable cities that pay $350 to $475."
A longtime volunteer at the ACCT shelter in Hunting Park, Maria Termini-Romano, said she and others have long pushed for more funding because conditions are deplorable for humans and animals alike at the shelter.
"We are the poorest-funded municipal shelter for cities of our size," she said. "The building is in complete disrepair. Words cannot describe the abominable conditions."
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Protesters gathered outside City Hall in June to ask for more funding for ACCT, which is Philadelphia's only open-intake shelter, after an outbreak of a deadly virus.
Many dogs at the facility suffered from upper respiratory infections, with some dying from the virus.
"ACCT basically needs more help," said Alison Flanagan, of Harley's Haven Dog Rescue, a rescue partner with ACCT Philly. "The city - everything seems to be falling on deaf ears. The city just doesn't seem to care."
ACCT Philly contracts with the city of Philadelphia and takes in nearly 18,000 animals a year, according to figures posted on its website. As of May, it took in more than 2,000 dogs alone.