Philadelphia Animal Shelters Join Forces Toward ‘No-Kill' Goal

Philadelphia would join other places like Austin, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, as No-Kill cities.

Eight out of 10 cats and dogs that came into Philadelphia shelters in 2017 purred or barked their way out the same way they went in: alive.

That's a huge increase from just 13 years ago, when the rate was closer to one out of 10. Still, shelter officials say there is room for even more improvement. The three large organizations that oversee animal control and sheltering in the city have teamed up with other animal rights groups and shelters to form the Philadelphia No-Kill Coalition.

The coalition, launched Wednesday after roughly a year in the works, has a mission "to end to the killing of healthy, treatable and manageable cats and dogs in the City of Philadelphia, promote humane alternatives for community cats, and, ultimately, attaining 100% safe placement of healthy and treatable pets."

The animal-save rate in city shelters in 2017 was 82 percent, all the way up from 11 percent in 2005. Numerous reasons for the steep rise include a large decrease in the total number of animals coming into shelters. That is due to neutering and spaying programs implemented by the non-profit that handles animal control for Philadelphia. 

The Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT), which operates on a city contract, replaced a city agency more than a decade ago. ACCT employs two full-time "community cat coordinators," who pro-actively spay and neuter feral cats. The effort has contributed to the number of animals at city shelters falling to 18,000 last year, from 30,000 six years ago.

"We have made tremendous progress in recent years and must continue that momentum," said Melissa Levy, executive director of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS). "Together, we will keep strengthening the safety net until every pet owner can get the help they need, and every savable homeless animal finds a home."

Showing the city's support for the effort, Mayor Jim Kenney joined leaders from the 12 groups, including the Pennsylvania SPCA, that make up the coalition at an event at City Hall.

For more information about the Philadelphia No-Kill Coalition, go to the coalition's new website,

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