Susan Russell is all about second chances.
Russell is the executive director at Animal Care and Control Team, and her shelter is full of animals who are looking for homes.
There are cats who were found as strays. There are dogs who were given up by owners.
Russell loves the animals, but she would much prefer to see an empty cage.
The more empty cages she sees, the more her group can save. And while she does it responsibly, there’s nothing better than giving animals a safe place to stay until they find their second chance.
“We’re working to find great adopters to free up some kennels and put (animals) in homes,” said Russell, who began her job with the shelter in October. “Our live release numbers are good, they’ve been really good the past three months. But we still have great dogs and great cats.”
Some just need second chances.
Take Elroy, for example.
This pooch is one of the stars of ACCT, and he gets treated as such. Elroy loves people, he loves playing and he’s a good swimmer. He doesn’t like cats and would like to be an only fur child, but when it comes to people, he’s a superstar.
“He’s the most fabulous boy in all the world, but a couple of bad decisions landed him in the shelter,” Russell said. “He wants to be your one and only, but I think he’s part cat because of the way he acts. He’s a rescue only, and because of that he needs a foster who can help him get out of the shelter. He’s happy here, he loves being around everyone, but he deserves a home.”
Elroy’s story isn’t that strange.
Many animals in the shelter, for one reason or another, need to be an only pet.
It’s all about second chances. And Russell and her staff are doing everything they can, including letting the animals show their true personality on social media, to help get these dogs and cats in forever homes.
“A lot of these guys get out of the shelter and they’re so different,” Russell said. “We have so many great rescue partners who help us. We have the No-Kill Coalition, which is so valuable to the animals. We want to save as many healthy and treatable animals as we can.”
Since Russell arrived, ACCT’s stats have greatly improved. In fact, the live release rate was over 90 percent for the past few months. That’s impressive considering the shelter is Philadelphia’s only open-intake shelter. If an animal needs a place to go, ACCT will take them.
But to continue to post great numbers and save animals, the shelter needs help.
And that’s why the shelter is holding a fundraiser, the Gala for Second Chances, on May 3 at Concilio. The event, which will be hosted by Fox 29’s Lucy Noland, will include art work drawn for the shelter by students from Archbishop Ryan High School. And proceeds from the event will go toward helping animals who need to get out of shelters.
“ACCT Philly is so excited to have the wonderful art students of Archbishop Ryan lending their artistic talents to the gala and creating artistic renderings of the streets from which many of our homeless animals were found,” Russell said. “Some students are even donating their work to the auction to help raise money to help the animals in our care.”
The gala isn’t the only event ACCT has coming up.
This weekend, the shelter will offer free veterinary services, including spay, neuter, checkups, vaccines, heartworm testing and microchips at the Cecil B. Moore Center, 2251 N. 22nd St. in Philadelphia. To register, visit phillyvetclinic.com.
According to Russell, events like these help keep animals in homes and healthy.
“We love animals, but we don’t want your animals,” Russell said. “If we can keep animals from coming into the shelters and with the families that love them, it helps everyone.”