Pet adoptions in Philadelphia spike over holidays, at time of greatest need

Dog up for adoption
Boris, a male Saint Bernard mix, at Street Tails Animal Rescue in Northern Liberties. Credit: Charles Mostoller

When the holidays roll around, some people are more inclined to offer space in their homes to new furry friends.

Spreading the trend was Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” who urged followers on Facebook to celebrate “Catmas” by sharing pictures of newly adopted pets. He received hundreds of replies.

In fact, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 7, the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) saw 51 cats and 12 dogs adopted, said executive director Melissa Levy.

“We were open on New Year’s Day for the first time this year, and we found a lot of people were putting their applications in,” Levy said.

During the cold winter months, people seem to be more sensitive to the plight of homeless animals, said Jim DePaul, executive director of Morris Animal Refuge, an open-admission shelter in Center City founded in 1874.

“We did have a lot of people bringing in strays that had been hanging around outside their house, I did see a little bit of spike in that,” DePaul said.

“Two people brought in a pet in they saw in the cold and felt bad for. The kitten wasn’t even old enough to be adopted yet so we kept it here. And they came back and adopted it,” he said.

But not everyone has seen lots of adoptions, and some are more concerned about what they called the typical February wave of pets returned that people can’t keep.

“People get a puppy for Christmas and realize they can’t keep it,” said Devon Kelemen, shelter manager at Street Tails Animal Rescue in Northern Liberties.

Street Tails, where dogs taken from the Philadelphia Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) are available to the public for adoption, didn’t experience a significant spike over the holidays. But they did get a lot more calls about strays in the cold than usual, Kelemen said.

“We’ve had so many calls about that kind of thing,” Kelemen noted. “It’s less that people aren’t willing to take them in, more that they want someone else to hande it.”

Levy said that small pets go quick, but larger pets sometimes take longer to find a home.

“The big dogs, who make absolutely outstanding family members, just are not finding homes lately,” she said.

See strays?

Animal Care & Control Team of Philadelphia (ACCT) takes in strays and holds them for adoption. They are the city’s primary agency for animal issues. Call 267-385-3800.

SPCA enforces humane laws if animals are being mistreated. Call 866-601-SPCA.

Cold weather rules

Keep your pets inside, except for short walks. Short-coated and small dogs should wear a coat.

Check paws when returning from a walk; gently wipe to remove salt.

Dig small holes for dogs to relieve themselves. Do not shovel snow near dogs as they may leap at the snow and strike the shovel.

Cats like to hide under car hoods during winter; thump the hood a few times to warn cats before starting your car.

Source: Penn Vet’s Matthew J. Ryan Hospital

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