Animal lovers are speaking out about treatment of pets at the Chester County SPCA, including dogs put down for minor health problems and a majority of cats getting a one-way ticket to the euthanasia room.
Volunteers say the shelter in the state's richest county has become a "kill factory."
The shelter is taking in hundreds if not thousands of more animals now than it did two years ago before taking the contract to handle animal control for Delaware County when the Delaware County SPCA became a "no kill" shelter and no longer accepted strays.
Exactly how many additional animals are being admitted we don't know because the SPCA will not release its intake or "outcome" statistics, despite requests from reporters and the fact it is performing a tax-payer funded service for a neighboring county.
The new influx of animals has come as the shelter is plagued by management troubles, ineffective board leadership and conflicting philosophies about euthanasia, according an article by my colleague Mari Schaefer in Monday's Inquirer.
The SPCA did not dispute the fact it is euthanizing more animals but it says many of the dogs and cats it takes in are unadoptable.
Tell that to the volunteers who cared for Mona, the pit bull pictured above. She was returned to the shelter after her constant barking led to her being evicted from the townhouse development where she lived with her family.
A former volunteer told me a trainer was working with Mona, once the shelter's office dog, when she was ordered put down by the shelter vet for an ear infection.
Why are Delaware County officials - and the public - not demanding that Chester County SPCA make public the intake and outcome statistics - including how many dogs and cats are adopted or put down?
Delaware County is paying the shelter $30,000 a month to take in animals from 46 muncipalities. There is only a 48-hour hold requirement before a dog may be put down and no such hold for cats. Where is the accountability? And pity the poor Delaware County resident who learns too late their lost pet ended up miles away in another county.
And the shelter is bringing in puppies from the South because they are easily adoptable. In other words, they are importing dogs from other states as they are destroying local dogs.
Why is a shelter overrun with area animals, bringing in any additional dogs from other states?
Why is the shelter not doing everything it can to move animals out before putting them down, be it partnering with other regional shelters or breed rescues and taking animals into the community for adoption events?
Why are area shelters no longer "pulling" animals from Chester County? Both Delaware County SPCA and the Pennsylvania SPCA said they have not taken animals from Chester County in months. A PSPCA spokeswoman cited management turnover at the Chester shelter. There is no executive director, no kennel manager, no operations manager and no vet tech on staff at the Chester SPCA, according to a new website created by concerned volunteers, Justice for Chester Animals.
The website puts a face on the unwanted animal population of Greater Philadelphia through the photographs of pets destroyed - Manny, Percy, Mona Chance, yes Chance - before being given a chance to live.