This Sunday, dog-lovers can head to Philadelphia Brewing Co. to receive a free pint of beer, look at the Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia’s selection of again-adoptable dogs, and maybe learn about a new pet’s genetics.
This marks the first major adoption event since ACCT temporarily suspended both adoptions and intakes for several weeks due to an aggressive case of kennel cough that killed several animals.
The shelter is still not taking in new dogs, but is accepting cats. After the outbreak hit, the shelter separated healthy animals from the infected, said Blake Martin, ACCT’s communications director.
With the help of Philadelphia vet Joan Capuzzi, the city’s only open-intake shelter is waiving adoption fees at the Sunday event to help combat overcrowding and is providing each adopter with a free canine DNA test.
Paid for by Capuzzi, the kits — with a retail value of about $85 — act as a 23andMe-type breed-detection service allowing owners to learn how long their dog may live and potential health risks. Since the dogs at ACCT are primarily mixed breeds, Capuzzi said, it can be helpful to understand an adopted dog’s origins.
“[People] like to trace these breed traits, these breed characteristics, back to their own dog. It unlocks some of the mystery, and I think it’s just interesting to know, and it’s helpful,” Capuzzi said.
But DNA can’t predict how an animal will behave.
“Wherever you get the dog from, whether it’s from a pet store or a shelter, there is no guarantee the dog will make a good family member," she said.
ACCT is contracted with the city to take all of the animals brought in, while other shelters are able to evaluate if they would like to take in the animal based on available space. Because of this, ACCT has serious overcrowding issues, Capuzzi said. Once there is not enough room for new animals, some healthy animals that are not adopted or fostered are euthanized.
At her veterinary practice, Capuzzi said, she often sees “puppy mill dogs” or animals bought elsewhere.
Capuzzi said she talked to the shelter about sponsoring the event to raise awareness about overcrowding and how adoptions can stop the killing of healthy animals.
“People need to be adopting dogs from these places, because they need the help,” she said.
Susan Russell, executive director of ACCT, said the shelter aims to save healthy and treatable animals and break the stigma associated with pit bulls, and she hopes Sunday’s event will help restart adoptions.
“We need to get out from under-dismissing those animals in favor of a dog of a different look," Russell said. "I think that’s a really important part of what we are trying to do — really create pride in our local Philly-bred dogs so we can find more of them homes far more quickly than we have in the past.”