Protesters gathered outside City Hall on Wednesday to ask for more funding as Philadelphia's only open-intake shelter slowly recovers from an outbreak of a deadly virus.
The Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia has been dealing with a number of upper respiratory infections that have affected dogs in its Hunting Park shelter. Though things are beginning to normalize once again, some of the infected dogs died due to the virus, and the shelter itself remains in a state of disrepair.
"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."
Breaking news and the stories that matter to your neighborhood.
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 of this year, it has taken in more than 2,000 dogs alone.
The recent outbreak, which the shelter believes was caused by pneumovirus, underscored a need for more resources.
The virus, which ACCT Philly described as "a relatively new and emerging pathogen ... capable of causing a contagious, primary viral pneumonia," forced the shelter to set up outdoor tents as it looked to quarantine the sick animals and keep the general population healthy.
While the tents remain crowded and susceptible to leaks from the rain, things inside the main shelter building aren't much better.
There, water spots stain the ceiling. Water pools on the floor. Wires stick out from broken thermostats. Piles of towels stack up as washers and dryers with "broken" signs affixed to them go unused.
"Rescues and volunteers just can't seem to understand why the city doesn't care, why they don't want to help, why this building isn't being rehabbed," Flanagan said.
ACCT Philly Executive Director Susan Russell said the shelter is "getting back to some semblance of normalcy" after the outbreak, but agreed that it still lacks space and resources.
The consequences that come from not getting those resources, she added, could be dire.
"We don't want to be euthanizing for space if we can help it, and I don't think our community wants us to do that."