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Shelter Admissions

Programs & Services

Managed Shelter Admission Policy

Read the York County SPCA shelter admissions policy below.

The York County SPCA is currently asking residents of York County to schedule an appointment if they wish to surrender a dog. Residents can submit a surrender form here. Once we receive your surrender form, we will call to schedule a time for your surrender appointment. Email us at info@ycspca.org or call 717-764-6109 with any questions.


Stray dogs are accepted during our open hours, from 8:00am – 4:00pm, Monday - Sunday. York County residents and Animal Control Officers must call ahead to notify shelter staff that they are transporting a stray dog to our shelter.

Any sick and/or injured stray animal that needs care outside of normal York County SPCA business hours should seek assistance at the Animal Emergency and Referral Center of York or Mason Dixon Emergency Animal Hospital. The York County SPCA has a negotiated agreement with the Animal Emergency and Referral Center and Mason Dixon Emergency Animal Hospital, to hold and stabilize injured animals until the next day when an agent of the York County SPCA can transport the injured animal to the shelter.

The following is the York County SPCA’s protocol for managing York County’s unowned, free roaming cats.

  1. Healthy free-roaming cats: In most situations, the York County SPCA will not accept healthy free-roaming cats into the shelter as a surrendered animal. In most cases, feral, free-roaming cats will never be a candidate for adoption, which leaves those cats with an almost guaranteed outcome of euthanasia. Additionally, surrendering free-roaming cats does not reduce York County’s free roaming cat population. Instead, the York County SPCA advocates for a real, long-term solution to address our county’s cat population growth rates. Residents should trap unowned cats and then bring those cats to the York County SPCA’s low-cost spay/neuter clinic. At the clinic, all cats receive a thorough exam, the spay/neuter surgery, and are vaccinated for Rabies – all for a cost of $15. The next day, residents should pick up the cat and return the cat back to where it was found. If the cat arrived in a healthy condition, we reasonably assume that the cat will continue to thrive in the same environment. Upon completion of the vet exam, any health issues are addressed by our vet staff.                                                                                                                                                                  
  2. Unhealthy free-roaming cats: If York County residents observe and trap unhealthy free-roaming cats, we accept those animals into our shelter. We will make all attempts to nurse the animal back to health in hopes that it can find a permanent, loving home.                                                                  
  3. Owned, free-roaming cats: If York County residents observe a free-roaming cat that appears to be owned (collar, harness, other obvious signs) we encourage residents to leave the cat where it is. Although it may feel counterintuitive, cats are 13-times more likely to be reunited with their owner when returned to the area where they were found. Unless there are signs of illness or abandonment, it is better to return cats to their previous environment rather than bring the cat to an animal shelter.                                                                                                                                                 
  4. Kittens with a mom: If York County residents observe kittens and the mom cat is alive, we ask them to “leave the kittens be”. Kittens under 3-pounds will not survive in a shelter because their immune system is not developed enough to survive in a shelter environment. Once the kitten has reached about 3-pounds, we encourage residents to utilize our Trap-Neuter-Return program. If York County residents do not see the mother cat, it is likely that the mom is still alive but is out hunting.                                                                                                                                                               
  5. Kittens without a mom: If York County residents find kittens and the mom is confirmed deceased (for example, she may have been struck by a car) we will try our best to find a temporary living situation in a foster’s home. We have a small network of volunteers who are willing to bottle feed kittens until they reach 3-pounds and can be brought into the shelter. For the most part, the kitten’s best hope is to stay with mom, and only if the mom is deceased will we try to find a volunteer who is willing to bottle feed those kittens.


If feral cats are causing issues for York County residents, or if there are people feeding a colony of cats that are causing problems, we have a Field Services Agent who can help. Our Field Services Agent can educate people on how to deter cats. We can also educate people on how to reduce the size of their cat colonies and how to responsibly manage a colony of cats through Trap-Neuter-Return.


Healthy free-roaming community cats should not be brought to the shelter for surrender. Simply removing cats from the area without addressing their ability to reproduce is not effective. The food and shelter that were available to those removed cats remains in place and before long, new cats arrive to take advantage of these resources and continue to reproduce. Instead, we ask that residents care for community cats by utilizing our clinic’s Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program. If a community cat is already ear tipped (tip of its ear is clipped off), there is no reason to trap the cat and bring it into the shelter. An ear tipped cat indicates that the cat has already been spayed or neutered.


Spayed and neutered cats are unable to reproduce, continue to fill a niche in their environment, and prevent new cats (who are not spayed/neutered) from coming in and taking over. Once they are spayed or neutered, the cats roam less, make less noise, and do not create a foul odor when marking territory. They also continue to provide rodent control. If enough of the cats in a neighborhood are spayed or neutered, their numbers will drop over time. This policy of managing outdoor cats through spay/neuter is endorsed by The Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, and many other leading national animal welfare organizations.

Learn more in Community Conversations: Demystifying Animal Welfare Practices

In this Shelter Admissions Policy segment of Community Conversations, we discussed how we manage surrendered animals, unowned stray animals, and free-roaming cats. Panelists include Executive Director Steven Martinez, Operations Director Kari Herchelroth, and Christine Arnold - the founder and Managing Director of The Nobody's Cats Foundation. Christine Arnold founded Nobody's Cats in 2012 and has served as Managing Director since its inception. Highly active in the Trap Neuter Return (TNR) strategy since 2004, Christine served for six years as a weekly cat shelter caregiver for the Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, and on the boards of and as a volunteer for PAWS, the Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, Rehabitat, and Wind Ridge Farm Equine Sanctuary.

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