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Shelter Admissions

Shelter Admissions

Managed Shelter Admission Policy

Stray Domestic Animals

Stray Dogs

Beginning July 1, 2024, stray dogs will only be accepted by contracted animal control officers, York County police officers, or a PA state dog warden. To learn more about this change, please click here. Stray dogs are accepted from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Sunday. Animal field service providers must call ahead to notify shelter staff that they are transporting a stray dog to our shelter.

Sick and/or Injured Strays

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

Surrendering your Pet

The York County SPCA’s goal is to keep people and pets together. Alternative options and support will be offered to find a solution to keep your pet happy and healthy at home, and even strengthen your bond with them.  

We understand that giving up your pet to a shelter can be a difficult and emotional decision. The York County SPCA provides a non-judgmental approach to working with you and your pet.

If you have considered alternatives and still need to surrender your pet, please complete the appropriate surrender form truthfully and with as much detail as possible. Surrender forms are located on our website here. 

A YCSPCA staff member will review the form and contact you to discuss your application. A completed application requires:

  • A photo of the pet(s) you would like to surrender.
  • Veterinary records for the pet(s) you would like to surrender.
  • Training or behavior records for the pet(s) you want to surrender (if applicable).

A completed application does not guarantee your pet's acceptance into the shelter. Pets are surrendered by appointment only to ensure we have adequate space and resources to care for your animal. A surrender evaluation appointment will be scheduled, and departmental leadership will assess the pet.  If the pet can be safely handled, petted, restrained, removed from the owner, and vaccinated, the animal will be accepted for surrender and signed in to our care at the appointment. If the animal is denied for surrender based on the assessment criteria, additional resources will be provided to the owner for alternative placement options. Alternative placement will be the responsibility of the owner.

Community Cats

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

  1. Healthy, free-roaming community 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, due to behavioral issues, feral or 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 long-term. 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, spay/neuter surgery, and ear tip, and are vaccinated for Rabies – all for $20. The next day, residents should pick up the cat and return it to where it was found. If the cat arrives in a healthy condition, we reasonably assume that the cat will continue to thrive in the same environment. Upon completion of the vet exam, our vet staff will address any health issues.

  2. Unhealthy free-roaming community cats: If York County residents observe and trap unhealthy free-roaming cats, we accept those animals into our shelter. We strive to nurse the animal back to health in hopes of returning the cat to the original address where it was found.  Again, free-roaming cats are not good candidates for adoption and typically thrive when returned to their outside 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. Alternatively, you may bring the cat to the shelter to have it scanned for a microchip. If there is no microchip, we will ask you to return the cat to the location where it was found. If there is a microchip, we will keep the cat and attempt to reunite it with the owner. 
  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.” If York County residents do not see the mother cat, it is likely that the mom is still alive but is out hunting or hiding from people. It is instinctual for community members to see a kitten and want to bring that kitten to our shelter for care and adoption. However, we must redirect kittens away from our shelter and into a foster home because they often experience health problems in a shelter setting due to their compromised immune systems. The best guarantee for a kitten’s live outcome is to keep the kitten with its mom. Community members can help increase a kitten’s chance at a live outcome by following these instructions. Avoid handling the kittens and watch them from a distance for 10-12 hours to see if the mother returns. If the kittens are exposed or in a dangerous location, move them to a safe hiding spot nearby. If no mother returns, please contact the shelter at 717-764-6109 extension 101. The next best option is foster care. Saving kittens must be a community effort. We are only successful in saving kitten lives if people volunteer to be kitten fosters. Once kitten fosters have nursed the kitten to about 2 pounds, their immune system is strong enough to allow them to return to our shelter for adoption.
  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 foster home for the kitten(s). We have a network of volunteers willing to bottle-feed kittens until they reach two pounds and can be brought into the shelter. If a foster parent is unavailable, the finder may be asked to foster the kittens until they are two pounds. All supplies and coaching will be provided. Feel free to contact us for more information or to learn how to become a feline foster parent.

If free-roaming cats are causing issues for York County residents, we can educate people on how to deter them. We can also educate people on how to reduce the size of their cat colonies and how to manage a colony of cats responsibly 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 available to those removed cats remains in place, and before long, new cats arrive to take advantage of these resources and continue to reproduce. This is known as the vacuum effect. 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 cannot 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 spayed or neutered, 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 cats in a neighborhood are spayed or neutered, their numbers will decline. 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.

Click here to learn more about community cats.

We recommend the following community cat resources:

Nuisance Behaviors and Humane Deterrents:


Finding Moms and Kittens:


Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR):


Community Cat Overview: