PHILADELPHIA - The head of Philadelphia's only open-intake animal shelter has resigned, ACCT Philly announced Tuesday.
Executive Director Susan Russell's resignation comes almost one year after she accepted the position.
“It has been a truly rewarding experience to serve the animals and people of Philadelphia,” said Russell. “While there have been some challenges, together we have also had many successes."
Russell cited the increase of live release rates under her tenure — more than 90 percent for dogs and roughly 88 percent for cats in the first half of 2019.
The board of directors says the search for a new executive director will begin immediately.
Russell's departure follows a multi-week, partial shutdown of major operations at the shelter sparked by an upper respiratory infection in a number of dogs at its kennels in June.
Shelter officials identified the primary cause of the respiratory illness as canine pneumovirus. The virus can reportedly cause an epidemic of respiratory illness because it is highly contagious, most dogs do not have immunity and there is no vaccine.
During the partial shutdown, the shelter suspended dog adoptions and most owner surrenders while separating healthy stray intake from its main kennel population.
Following a deep-clean of ACCT Philly's property, the shelter remains at full capacity.
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(ACCT Philly: At-Risk Cats)
ACCT Philly continues to seek adopters, fosters and volunteers to service the nearly 22,000 animals it takes in each year.
"It's summer and we are inundated with pure Phillybred cats and dogs," shelter officials said previously in an open letter to Philadelphia residents. "We are currently taking in 75-100 animals per day on average with no signs of this letting up."
As of Friday, three dogs, 14 cats and 17 kittens are timestamped for euthanasia. The shelter currently has more than 100 cats and 100 dogs available for adoption.
Those interested in helping high-risk animals at ACCT Philly, but cannot commit to adoption or fostering, can pledge donations to urgent dogs and cats through its Love Local Program.
A pledge is a promise to donate to the rescue group that pulls a given animal from ACCT Philly. Individual pledges help accumulate the necessary funding for participating rescue groups to save urgent animals.
Volunteers say that rescues are more likely to pull animals, particularly those with expensive needs, when they see pledges have been made.
ACCT Philly is located at 111 W. Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19140. Adoption hours are weekdays, 1 p.m. - 8 p.m. and weekends, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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