Salah: Abandoned animals are starving for attention

Salah argues that the policies of local branches of animal control help contribute to the suffering of some of the creatures they try to protect.

Hend Salah

Just off of Main Campus and in many areas of the city, animals are walking around the streets without a home or even proper food.

For example, two malnourished, bruised and homeless horses were found on Seventh and Diamond streets back in June. Both were taken into shelters and have since found homes, according to a June 13, 2012 article by Kenneth Moton that appeared on

While horses may be a rare case, other animals are also roaming the streets on their own. I’ve frequently seen a group of three dogs living around the corner of Second Street and Oxford Avenue. All three of them have dirty, matted fur and are so thin that their bones are visible through their skin. People and cars pass them by without a second glance, including police officers.

While it seems that their disregard is cruel, police officers are not responsible for these animals. The Animal Care and Control Team of Philadelphia is responsible for animal emergencies, enforcement of animal ordinance complaints and dead animal removal. It does not, however, pick up random animals on the street without provocation.

“Animal Control does pick up stray animals, but they have to be called in,” Allison Homer, from the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society, said. “They don’t pick up dogs or other animals that roam the streets on their own without a call from someone to get them.”

Other than the fact that these animals are uncared for, they can also pose a problem for the inhabitants of Philadelphia. Strays in the city are dangerous and can be prone to attack due to their hunger or previous abuse.

“We were walking around on some street behind Front street, and a huge black dog saw us and chased us up two blocks,” Rose Daraz, a junior political science major, said. “It didn’t have a collar, and it didn’t look clean, so I doubt it belonged to anybody. I like dogs, but that one was pretty damn scary.”

There are several causes for these problems, and they are not all easy to remedy. For example, a major reason is that the animal shelters are already housing a large number of animals. According to the ACCT website, 32,119 animals were taken into shelters, and 19,282 were released in 2011. Only 5,688 were adopted that year.

Still, there is something that can be done about the space issues. A few more shelters should be opened up in other areas in the city. Maybe a few of them can be built specially for animals that live on the streets of Philadelphia. I’m sure many people would be willing to volunteer.

However, even if these shelters are built, there is still another problem. The fact that the ACCT doesn’t pick up these animals is another serious cause of the neglect.

It is true that they have other obligations and that Philadelphia is a big area to cover, but rescuing animals that are homeless is just as important as picking up animals that people call in.

Aside from that, all the animals that are homeless and hungry are in need of more help.

The ACCT needs to become more attuned to picking up uncared for and homeless animals. Instead of picking up those that are dead, ACCT should find them while they still have life in them. Not only is it a heartbreaking sight to see, but it also presents possible danger for innocent passersby. Abandoned and downtrodden animals that live in such an empty world shouldn’t have to wait on someone to notice that they need help for them to receive it.

Hend Salah can be reached at

1 Comment

  1. Hi Hend,
    I am in total agreement with you. It has become all too common in these tougher economic time for people to abandon their pet due to their inability to care for them. It is technically against the law to release animals like that and can result in a hefty fine if an animals previous owners are tracked down. What I find so distressing is that because of the great number of feral and abandoned animals, many are euthanized upon intake into county shelters. This goes particularly for kittens and puppies because it is unlikely there is a potential owner looking for them. The spay programs will hopefully make a difference in the long run, but we have yet to see any significant results. The best thing people can do if they find a stray animal that responds positively to human contact and can be easily trapped or leashed is to have them washed, frontlined, fixed, and fully vetted and then placed into a foster for forever home. In Philadelphia, all of this can be done for a cat for around $100 and between $100-200 for a dog. There are free clinics for pitbulls and pit mixes and often chihuahuas.

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