Emergency Placement

Helping Animals with the Greatest Needs

Dog Population Crisis

Animal shelters across the country are experiencing a significant rise in their in-care dog populations, straining resources and capacity. This increase is attributed to a variety of factors, including economic challenges that prevent families from keeping their pets, pandemic-related delays in spaying and neutering services, and an overall decline in adoptions. As the only open-door animal shelter serving 8+ million NYC residents, ACC is experiencing in-shelter dog populations that far exceed our capacity. New dogs arrive daily, joining our already packed care centers. Crates line the hallways and offices as we utilize every inch of space we can find. Our average length-of-stay (LOS) has gone from 5-7 days to upwards of 15-20 days.

To avoid having to make difficult euthanasia decisions based solely on space constraints, we are expanding our Emergency Placement program to give as many dogs as possible the chance to be networked and placed in a timely manner.  Starting May 23, ACC will have two lists for dogs who urgently need placement:

Priority Placement (PPL) Dogs:

Priority Placement dogs need extra attention because their quality of life in the shelter has declined and/or their behavior could make placement difficult if they remain in care. We are making their placement a top priority. These are dogs that if not placed soon, could be added to the At-Risk List. Dogs on this list may be placed with a New Hope rescue partner or depending on their behavior, may be eligible for direct adoption or foster.

At-Risk of Euthanasia (ARL) Dogs:

At-Risk dogs suffer from severe medical issues and/or behavioral problems and have been unable to find placement. These dogs are at-risk of euthanasia if not placed before a given date. The ARL is posted Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 6PM. Euthanasia decisions are made Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. If a decision is made to move forward with humane euthanasia, a thorough Quality Assurance (QA) process is implemented in which all records are reviewed. At-Risk dogs are eligible for placement through adoption or New Hope rescue placement. They are not eligible for placement into the ACC foster program.

At-Risk of Euthanasia (ARL) Cats:

At this time our cat population remains stable, so there will be no changes to the ARL for cats.

Status updates for previous at-risk dogs and cats can be found here.

If you are interested in fostering or adopting a pet through a New Hope partner please fill out this pre-screener. Appropriate pre-screeners will be sent directly to New Hope partners who will contact interested parties.

ACC Terminology

ARL (At-Risk List)

These animals need immediate placement outside of the shelter. Animals can be added to the at-risk list for several reasons including but not limited to length of stay, behavior concerns, owner surrender history, medical conditions, and safety concerns. Please click here for more information on the schedule for when this list is updated and view all animals on the list currently.

CFC (Capacity for Care)

According to humane care standards, it takes approximately 15 minutes per day to provide basic care for each animal in a shelter environment (to clean the living environment and provide daily nutrition). Our capacity for care is a number that is affected by the number of physical housing spaces, staffing to care for the animals, number of animals currently in our care, number of animals with additional special needs, and an animal’s length of stay. The correct capacity for care has been calculated when all animals are being provided The Five Freedoms.

CIRDC (Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex)

CIRDC (commonly known as kennel cough) is a highly contagious illness that affects the respiratory tract. All dogs in our care are susceptible to this illness. With the rising population numbers, we have seen a dramatic increase in dogs with active CIRDC developing pneumonia and needing additional extensive medical care. We provide all our animals in care the necessary vaccines at the time of their intakes.


Research has shown animals mentally deteriorate in shelter environments the longer they are confined in high stress environments and unable to receive the appropriate amount of mental and physical relief from this stress. The rate at which a dog deteriorates is determined by their biological needs, previous experiences, and medical condition. No two dogs deteriorate in the same ways or time. Deterioration can show up in many ways such as but not limited to rejecting attention, over seeking attention, resistance to being returned to their kennel, displaying repetitive compulsive behaviors, decreased appetite, and acting out frustration by directing it towards a subject near them for example a leash, fence, their bedding, or a person.

FAS (Fear, Anxiety, and Stress)

ACC is a certified Fear Free organization with a goal to reduce our animals’ FAS as much as we can during their stay with us. The FAS spectrum is a tool we use to indicate and track how the animal is doing in our care. This determination will influence our decision on future care plans as we continue seeking placement. Link to FAS Spectrum.

KSV (Kennel Side Visit)

Staff and volunteers conduct kennel side visits throughout the day alongside daily walks, enrichment, etc. Often these visits will be noted in the animal’s record and labeled as a KSV in the enrichment section to indicate the visit didn’t include direct animal handling.

LOS (Length of Stay)

Length of stay is the number of days an animal has been in our care. Our current average length of stay for dogs is 15+ days. The optimal length of stay as an open admission shelter should be between 5 to 7 days. Reducing time in care drastically reduces the chances of animals developing illness and/or behavior challenges.

NHO (New Hope Only)

Animals labeled as NHO are animals that are available to be adopted or fostered through a New Hope partner. These animals are not available for direct public adoption. By working with a New Hope partner, they could provide additional support for behavior and medical needs. By filling out a New Hope Pre-Screener, we assist with matching appropriate pre-screeners directly with New Hope partners to increase the potential for placement of our NHO animals.

OLR (On-leash Reactivity)

Dogs can develop reactivity due to high frustration to different stimuli or fear based looking to flee but unable to do so since they are on leash. On-leash reactivity is the act of barking, growling, lunging, snarling, and forcefully darting towards other animals and/or people. Behavior modification can improve these behaviors but to make true progress the dog must be out of the shelter environment.


Prospective fosters and adopters who wish to be matched with a rescue can complete the pre-screener form. Based on their responses to the questionnaire, their contact information will be shared with rescue organizations. Some pre-screener applicants may receive phone calls from ACC staff to clarify or further discuss the specific dog. Others won’t be passed along if they do not meet the qualifications or the animal is no longer available for placement. Being passed along to a rescue does not guarantee that the rescue will call the pre-screener or that the person interested will receive the dog.

PPL (Priority Placement List)

The dogs on this list are the ones that need special attention to boost their visibility to potential adopters, fosters, and rescues. These dogs have been in our care for at least 30 days. We know the longer a dog must stay in the shelter environment the more susceptible they are to deteriorating mentally and physically. As the only open-door shelter in NYC, our goal is to provide the best quality and individual care to all animals in our care and to do so, we cannot house dogs long term.

QOL (Quality of Life)

Our shelter capacity directly influences the quality of humane care we can provide. Animals who spend extended periods of time in a shelter environment may start to deteriorate, developing medical and/or behavioral concerns. Medical concerns can include continuous upper respiratory illness, losing weight, ongoing diarrhea, and refusing to eat for long periods. Behaviorally we see dogs often develop harmful habits such as continuous spinning, barking, biting/scratching the interior of their kennels, and higher reactivity towards other animals and people. These behaviors can quickly become a safety concern to themselves, other animals, and our staff/volunteers handling them daily.

RG (Resource Guarding)

Dogs display resource guarding over items, food, places, and people that they find valuable for various reasons. A dog resource guarding can display hovering, lip curling, hard stare, growling, and attempting to bite others (animals and people) around them at the time. Behavior modification can improve these behaviors but to make true progress the dog must be out of the shelter environment.

TDO (Transfer Door Only)

Dogs with the status of TDO cannot be removed from their kennel due to safety concerns for our staff and/or themselves. This could be due to the dog’s history, in-shelter behavior concerns that arise, or if the act of coming out their kennel is causing them more stress.

At-Risk Dogs List FAQ

The at-risk list is the last push to highlight animals that are the most in need of placement. Being “at-risk” does not mean a dog is going to be automatically euthanized. Euthanasia occurs only when placement isn’t secured. The At-Risk list is an opportunity for our organization to focus attention and advocate for these dogs while we continue to find ways to improve their quality of life and find appropriate placement alternatives.

It is possible for a dog to bypass the at-risk list and move to humane euthanasia if the situation warrants it, such as dogs experiencing a medical emergency or who pose severe safety concern to the public, other animals, or themselves.

Dogs are added if they have behavior or medical concerns, and we are unable to meet their needs in the shelter environment. Animals that have deteriorated mentally and are exhibiting poor quality of life in the shelter could also be considered for the at-risk list.

ACC is committed to ensuring the integrity and accuracy of all processes and programs, including humane euthanasia for animals identified from the At-Risk list. Humane euthanasia will only be performed on animals for whom no other placement options have been established and for whom no outstanding issues regarding intake, ownership, or holding exist. ACC’s Quality Assurance (QA) department performs a meticulous review of the record for any animal identified from the At-Risk list prior to euthanasia. 

Our team tracks several items to ensure we are doing all we can to help the dogs have a positive outcome, including, but not limited to:

  • Intake Date to track how long they have been in our care. 
  • Does dog receive daily in-kennel enrichment? 
  • Does the dog have a behavior management/modification plan in place? 
  • Has the dog been placed on behavioral medications to assist with adjusting to shelter environment? 
  • Have we pursued reclaim options?
  • Does the dog have a bio on the website as well as photos? 
  • If possible, does the dog have a video? 
  • Have we made a plea to rescue groups or other shelters?

Dogs that are now at the stage of being added to the at-risk list need a long-term commitment and many times additional resources such as professional training and/or more extensive medical care. Our New Hope partners can provide more direct resources to these specialized cases. You can foster a dog on the at-risk list by filling out a pre-screener application to become a foster for one of our New Hope partners. We send eligible pre-screeners over to our partners and they decide if they would like to match this applicant with the dog through their organization.

ACC discourages the use of the phrase “no kill” as the term is very misleading and confusing. The way each organization defines or each individual views the terminology is not easy to follow. The “no-kill” label divides shelters and people that need to work together to focus on what matters, which is saving as many pets’ lives as possible.
We are a resource driven organization aiding all animals and owners in need to end pet homelessness in NYC. ACC also believes we have a responsibility to ensure that we do not place dangerous animals back into the community and that no animal suffers from a medical condition that goes beyond our ability to provide treatment.
As a community, we all share responsibility for New York City's euthanasia rates. The stray cat we feed but do not get altered. Supporting a pet shop by buying a puppy or kitten over adopting at the shelter. The accidental litter at home. Many of the choices we make and that our friends and family make affect the community’s euthanasia rate. As the only open-door shelter in NYC, we believe there must be a place that will not turn animals away. ACC is proud to be that place, but we need the communities support to continue achieving these goals.