PSPCA? ACCT? Philly Animal Acronyms to Know

Animal shelters love acronyms, and it’s confusing when you live in a city with as many shelters as Philadelphia. Shelters and animal advocacy groups fill an important role in the lives of pets across the city beyond those up for adoption, from health clinics and education events to fundraisers and dog washes. Here’s a breakdown of the main animal advocacy and care groups in the city and what they mean for you.

PSPCA – Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals

pspcaThe acronym “SPCA” has become an all-encompassing term for animal shelters across the nation; it’s the pound of the 21st century. Despite their shared name, most of these organizations operate independently of the widely recognized ASPCA. This includes the PSPCA, Pennsylvania’s own animal advocacy group, which aids Philly’s animals through its numerous resources: shelters, clinics, and owner education and support.

The PSPCA manages several shelter locations throughout the city, where it receives stray and surrendered animals in addition to pets seized by PSPCA officers; the PSPCA has a law enforcement department that investigates reports of animal abuse and neglect.

Why you should care: It takes responsible, caring citizens like you to report cases of animal abuse and neglect to the PSPCA. The PSPCA also works to prevent neglect in the first place by providing low-cost veterinary and wellness care, including spay/neuter services and grooming. Most important of all, you can play with the PSPCA’s adoptable shelter cats remotely online!

ACCT – Animal Care and Control Team

acct philly finalThe ACCT is a contracted organization that serves the City of Philadelphia through animal control and shelter measures. It manages an adoption center out of its North Philadelphia location, where it also receives lost pets and captures stray and roaming animals. However, unlike the PSPCA, the ACCT cannot enforce animal cruelty laws and cannot enter homes or property to remove neglected or abused animals. Its team members do not have police powers and can only respond to violations of city ordinances, like barking dogs, unsanitary conditions, and the presence of farm animals or livestock.

Why you should care: In addition to running a major shelter and adoption organization, the ACCT is the primary supporter of Philadelphia’s mandatory dog licensing law. The ACCT also runs a Lost & Found Pet Facebook page to help reunite lost dogs and cats with their owners.

PAWS – Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society

PAWS is a non-profit dedicated to finding homes for Philadelphia area cats and dogs. Its volunteers pull at-risk animals from city spawshelters like the ACCT and PSPCA to give them a better chance for adoption out of PAWS’ Old City boutique-style shelter and foster homes.


Why you should care: Even if you’re not looking to adopt, PAWS provides for city pet owners through health clinics, low-cost spay/neuter services, and education events. PAWS also hosts fun events to benefit the organization, like dog washing fundraisers and the annual Mutt Strut.

All of these organizations maintain active websites and social media profiles. If you want to get to know them, we suggest you follow them!

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