Every day, members of our community contact us asking for clarification about the York County SPCA (YCSPCA). Often, these assumptions about our organization are a stretch from the truth or not reflective of our policies and how our organization operates. On this page, are a few common myths about our policies, practices, and services. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions about our organization.
- Myth: Our adoption process is difficult and time-consuming
Fact: By implementing our “Adopters Welcome” policy, we removed unnecessary barriers to adoption. Our application is much shorter because we now rely on meaningful conversations to create ideal love connections between people and pets. Learn more about adoption.
- Myth: You must have a fenced-in yard to adopt a dog.
Fact: Having a fenced-in yard is NOT an adoption requirement. Visit www.ycspca.org/adopt to read and complete our adoption application.
- Myth: The YCSPCA does not adopt to people living outside of York County or outside of the state of Pennsylvania.
Fact: Adopters can live anywhere in the United States and still adopt from the York County SPCA. They just must be willing to travel to our shelter and be able to complete the adoption within a reasonable time frame.
- Myth: The YCSPCA does not adopt to families with young children, families with seniors living at home, or to people who rent their homes.
Fact: Living with children and seniors, or renting your home are not barriers to adoption. Click here to read and complete our adoption application.
Shelter Services and Operations
- Myth: Animals have a time limit for residency at our shelter, and after so many days in the shelter, we must euthanize the pet.
Fact: There are NO time limits for any animal’s length of stay. They stay here as long as it takes until they find a loving permanent home.
- Myth: We receive money from the national ASPCA, the federal government, and the Pennsylvania state government. All local SPCAs are affiliated with one another.
Fact: We are NOT affiliated with the National ASPCA. Local SPCAs have no affiliation with one another. We do not receive funding from the ASPCA, federal, or state governments. We are an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal resource center. Most of our income comes from bequests, contributions, fees for service, special events, and private grants. For every $1 donated, $.87 cents goes directly to animal care, services, and programs. Click here for a full list of our funding sources.
- Myth: A no-kill shelter does not euthanize animals.
Fact: No-kill means that an organization’s “save rate” is 90% or better. Euthanasia is only performed on severe medical or behavioral cases that are otherwise untreatable. Click here to learn more about save rate, and why “no-kill” shelters still euthanize animals.
- Myth: Most of the dogs you receive or have in the shelter are Pit Bulls.
Fact: We are a large animal shelter that intakes a variety of animals every year. We receive a variety of breeds of dogs of different ages, sizes, and temperaments. Pit Bulls are the most overly bred dog in our region so the likelihood that you’ll see more of them in the shelter is high.
- Myth: On social media, we post more about dogs than cats and small animals.
Fact: We have a social media policy that requires us to schedule the same number of posts for cats and dogs. Dogs tend to get more social media engagement, so those posts are more likely to be seen. Small animal posts are also important to us, and we try to provide an even balance.
- Myth: We throw away donated pet food.
Fact: We accept and use ALL donated food unless it is given to us in an unmarked trash bag. We even accept open bags of food, provided it is in the original packaging.
- Myth: Donated pet food is fed to shelter pets.
Fact: ALL food donated is utilized for community service programs such as our network of foster and community cat caregivers and our pet food pantry program. Keeping pets on a consistent diet is important for their digestive health. Since we receive a variety of brands of pet food from the community, we typically do not use donated food to feed shelter pets. We feed our pets Hill’s Science Diet. If a shelter pet refuses to eat Hill’s Science Diet or has a known digestive issue, we will offer donated food options until a preferred diet is selected.
- Myth: Steven M. (Executive Director) loves to watch Dr. Weekes do surgery.
False: Steven would rather be doing anything else. Surgery (and needles) makes him pass out.
- Myth: You are unable to surrender an animal if you cannot pay the surrender fee.
Fact: Finances should not be a barrier to accessing our services. If you need to surrender your pet and are experiencing financial hardship, we will work with you. Click here for information about surrendering a pet to the YCSPCA, and to learn about alternatives to surrender..
- Myth: If you surrender a pet, or utilize one of our human service programs, you can never adopt again, and your name goes on a “no adoption list”.
Fact: A “no adoption list” does not exist – except for criminals who have been convicted of animal cruelty or neglect. Utilizing our human service programs does not prevent a person from adopting again in the future.
- Myth: Once a pet receives its rabies vaccine, they are vaccinated for life.
Fact: A rabies vaccine is good for one year unless it gets boosted before the expiration date – then it’s good for three years.
- Myth: The SPCA accepts pillows for our shelter animals.
Fact: The York County SPCA cannot use pillows of any kind. They are too difficult to sanitize. The linens we can use include bath rugs, towels, blankets, washcloths, sheets, and hand towels. Please only donate linens that are in relatively good condition with no holes. Thank you for donating! Click here for a list of our most needed items.
- Myth: Shelter dogs always have behavioral issues.
Fact: Many dogs become residents of our shelter through no fault of their own – either because they are found as strays, surrendered by their owners, or for another reason. When surrendered by an owner, it is usually due to a change in their owner’s circumstances. When you walk through the shelter, you may see dogs exhibit behaviors like excessive barking or going to the bathroom in their kennels. However, you must remember that the shelter is a stressful environment for animals. In most cases, when they are placed into a loving home with patient adopters, these behaviors dissipate.
- Myth: All the shelter animals are older.
Fact: We receive animals of all ages, from newborn puppies and kittens to seniors, and all ages in between. Younger animals tend to be adopted quickly, which is why you may not see them unless you are looking at the right time.
- Myth: Because you are a shelter, your animals only receive the most basic care.
Fact: Every animal in our care benefits from the full range of skills and expertise of our veterinary staff. We take great pride in the fact that our animals receive the best care possible. We run in-house blood work and urinalysis, perform digital radiographs and basic ultrasounds, do our dental work with an ultrasonic scaler and high-powered drill, use an electrosurgical unit for advanced surgeries, use a tonometer to check for glaucoma, a microscope to perform cytology, and send any additional diagnostics to an outside laboratory. If a situation exceeds our comfort level, we refer the patient to the appropriate specialty veterinary center for care. In addition, upon intake, all dogs receive vaccinations (canine distemper combination vaccine, Bordetella, Canine Influenza, and Rabies), a 4DX test (testing for heartworm and 3 common tick-borne diseases), flea and tick preventative and heartworm preventative (both of which are repeated monthly during their stay). Prior to adoption, all cats receive a FeLV, FIV, and Heartworm test, vaccinations (feline distemper combination vaccine and Rabies), full screening for ringworm, and a preventative dip, oral dewormer, and flea medication.
- Myth: You must live in York County to use our spay/neuter clinic.
Fact: We offer low-cost spay/neuter services for owned animals and community cats regardless of where they live. Please note that we do require proof of York County residency specifically for our grant-subsidized, low-cost Pit Bull spay/neuter program. More information on the Pit Bull spay/neuter program is available here.
- Myth: The only medical procedure performed at the YCSPCA is spay/neuter.
Fact: We have two animal hospitals under one roof (shelter and clinic) at the York County SPCA. The Spay Neuter Clinic provides spay/neuter surgery for people’s owned pets and community cats, and the Brougher Companion Animal Shelter veterinary team performs a variety of lifesaving medical procedures for shelter pets. The clinic medical team specializes in high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter surgery as well as vaccinations and microchip implantation. Alternatively, for shelter pets (YCSPCA animals only), the shelter medical team performs a variety of lifesaving surgery every single day. Here are a few of the more common medical procedures performed in the shelter veterinary wing in addition to spaying and neutering: mass removals, amputations, enucleations, cystotomies, exploratory, dentals, cherry eye, and entropion repair, pyometra, wound repairs, and more.
- Myth: Because the spay/neuter clinic is “low cost”, we cut corners to provide services at a lower price, such as not giving pain medications, or providing less than adequate anesthesia monitoring.
Fact: All clinic patients receive pain medication and full physical exams. We have the same monitoring equipment you would find at a full-service veterinary hospital. The reason we can provide this service at a lower cost is that the clinic medical team EXCLUSIVELY performs spay/neuter, vaccination, and microchipping. This means we are incredibly efficient at these procedures and have streamlined the process to provide care to more animals in a regular workday. Additionally, we do not have the same overhead that a full-service animal hospital would have. Finally, our generous donors and fundraising efforts allow us to keep the cost low for this needed service for our community.
- Myth: The medical team you encounter when dropping your pet off at the spay/neuter clinic or at the shelter are all volunteers.
Fact: While we have volunteers present nearly every day to help with administrative and operational support, the veterinary personnel in the clinic and shelter are all formally trained and are paid staff of the YCSPCA. Veterinary Technicians go through 2-years of schooling and are eligible to sit for a national certification exam. Our Clinic Medical Director, Dr. Mann, earned a Veterinary Medical Doctor degree (VMD) in 2013 and has worked in high-volume spay/neuter surgery for nearly 7 years. Our Shelter Medical Director, Dr. Weekes also earned a Veterinary Medical Doctor degree (VMD) in 2012 and has worked in shelter medicine for 7 years. Collectively, our veterinary team, which also includes a third part-time veterinarian, has decades of experience, and they use their education and experience to provide the best care to all our patients.
- Myth: The spay/neuter clinic was opened to make money for the shelter.
Fact: Providing low-cost spay/neuter surgery through our clinic is a service to our community and is not a source of income for the York County SPCA. We try our very best to ensure clinic services are accessible by offering affordable pricing that is subsidized by donations, grants, and other fundraising efforts. Affordable spay/neuter surgeries, microchipping, and vaccinations are critical community services that all York County citizens should benefit from.
- Myth: I have a pregnant cat or dog that will soon have a litter, but because the YCSPCA’s online spay/neuter appointments are booked months out, either my pet must have a litter, or I will have to surrender my pet since I cannot get them spayed or neutered in time.
Fact: While our clinic schedule fills up quickly for routine spay/neuter appointments, we always do our best to make accommodations when special situations arise. These reasons include inappropriate urination in the house that might lead to the pet being surrendered; pregnant animals where owners are not prepared to care for a litter of puppies or kittens; behavior issues that could be helped by early spay/neuter surgery or if a tenant might lose their housing if their pet is not spayed or neutered. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are experiencing one of these situations and our team will discuss scheduling options.
- Myth: We do not accept sick or injured stray cats.
Fact: We accept ALL sick and injured stray animals – including cats. For more information about our shelter admission policy, click here.
- Myth: We recommend leaving outdoor cats outside without any help or intervention. The YCSPCA says that every single cat found outside should be Trapped, Neutered, and Returned (TNR).
Fact: It is true that most cats found outside, who are thriving in their outdoor home, should come through our TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) program to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated, all for a small $20 fee, and returned to where they were trapped. However, cats that are injured, ill, not thriving outdoors (i.e., they used to be indoor only but have been abandoned outdoors) or are living in an especially dangerous situation can be brought to the shelter to receive care. Sometimes, these cats can have their injuries treated at the shelter and the best thing for them is to be re-released specifically where they were trapped. The reason it is in their best interest for these specific cases is because of behavioral challenges that would make them unadoptable to an indoor home environment (aggressive temperament, refusing to use a litterbox, etc.). When it is evident that a cat would not do well being re-released outdoors, and they are friendly to humans, we can put them up for adoption.
- Myth: All found newborn kittens should be taken to the YCSPCA.
Fact: Newborn kittens (0 to 8 weeks old) have an underdeveloped immune system that is not strong enough to combat viruses found in adult cats that are housed in the shelter. For this reason, kittens will not survive in the shelter and must stay with their mother or be placed into foster homes. The number of newborn kittens well outnumbers our foster resources (i.e., there are more kittens than foster homes). For this reason, the best way to save the greatest number of kittens is to leave them with their mother until they are 8 weeks old. If you do not think the mother is present, avoid handling the kittens and watch from a distance. The mother should return within 10-12 hours. If the kittens are content and resting, mom has probably been there. If the kittens have full round bellies, the mom has been there. If you can confirm that the mother cat is deceased, contact the YCSPCA and we may ask you to be a temporary foster for the kittens. We provide education, necessary supplies, and all needed medicines so that you can successfully nurture the kittens until they are 8 weeks old (or 3 pounds) and can be brought into the shelter for adoption. It takes a collaborative community to save unowned community kittens.
- Myth: You recommend leaving unaltered (i.e., not spayed, or neutered) cats outdoors, thus contributing to the overpopulation problem. You return unaltered cats back outside.
Fact: We will never recommend that an unaltered cat be left outside. We will never return an unaltered cat outside. If the cat is healthy and thriving in its environment, it should be humanly trapped and brought into our clinic’s Trap-Neuter-Return program. If the cat is injured, ill, or not thriving, it should be trapped and brought to the shelter. If the cat can be rehabilitated back to health, once healthy, we will spay or neuter the cat prior to adoption or re-release it back to its outdoor home. We provide free cat trap rentals (a $60 fully-refundable deposit is required) so that our community can support this important effort of reducing the feline population growth rates. Tackling the community cat overpopulation challenge in York County must be a collaborative effort.
Animal Welfare/ Humane Society Police Officer
- Myth: The Humane Society Police Officer can enforce dog barking and noise ordinances.
Fact: Noise ordinances are established by each municipality and are not enforceable by the Humane Society Police Officer. Concerned citizens should contact the local police department for advice.
- Myth: The Humane Society Police Officer can remove a kennel license or stop people from allowing their dogs to breed.
Fact: It is not illegal to breed a dog. Kennel licensing and requirements are enforced by the Dog Warden who is an officer of the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement under the Department of Agriculture. See https://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Animals/DogLaw/Pages/default.aspx for more information on the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement.
- Myth: The Humane Society Police Officer can remove a dog or cat from a property at any time and for any reason.
Fact: To remove a dog, the Humane Society Police Officer must have evidence of neglect or cruelty, or the animal must be in imminent danger (at risk of dying) to remove an animal without a search warrant from a judge.
- Myth: The YCSPCA has an Animal Control Officer to collect stray animals.
Fact: The YCSPCA does not collect stray animals. The YCSPCA’s Humane Society Police Officer only collects animals that were involved in cruelty or neglect situations. For colonies of 10 or more cats, our Field Services Agent provides feline trapping services for Trap-Neuter-Return. An Animal Control Officer (ACO) is contracted by most York County municipalities to collect stray animals and transport them to the YCSPCA. Otherwise, the YCSPCA relies on community members to trap and transport stray or injured animals to the shelter.
- Myth: Because of Libre’s Law, the Humane Society Police Officer can remove a dog who is tethered (tied outside) for more than a 30-minutes.
Fact: The Humane Society Police Officer can issue a ticket for violating Libre’s Law. But, if food, shelter, and water has been provided for the dog, there is no violation per Libre’s Law.
Saving animals is a collaborative effort. We appreciate our community of supporters, volunteers, and advocates working together to educate others on our lifesaving mission and in helping us find loving, permanent homes for stray and displaced animals.