Frequently Asked Questions
So, you have made the decision to help save a shelter animals’ life. Whether the idea came to you after long reflection or simply because you saw an animal in need (likely through the Urgent Part 2 page) and felt you just “had to save them”, you are likely filled with both excitement and anxiety about what to expect next. 

This document is designed to help answer some of the most common questions that you face as a prospective adopter or foster parent.  We tried to make it as inclusive as possible but rest assured, if we haven’t answered one of your questions here, we are only a phone call away!


(It’s magic – hover & click on the question and the answers will appear!)

Who is Urgent Part 2 – Urgent Death Row Dogs?

UrgentPart2 is our window into the NYC-Brooklyn-Staten Island Animal Care and Control facilities. They are NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE NYC ACC. They are NOT A RESCUE. Their sole purpose is to advocate for animals at the shelter in attempt to save them before they are destroyed. They are a group of dedicated volunteers who provide invaluable insight and guidance to potential applicants looking to save an animal at the shelter.   They are a critical support network for the public and the over 200 New Hope Partners who work tirelessly to pull cats and dogs out of harms’ way and into the loving arms of new human parents.

What is the difference between Urgent, Super Urgent and To Be Destroyed (“TBD”) dogs and cats posted on the UrgentPart2 site?

Urgent Part 2 – Urgent Death Row Dogs posts the nightly “kill list” to their wall at 6 pm each day. Euthanasia starts the following day at 12PM. Dogs and cats selected for this list are said to be those who are sick (usually upper respiratory infection), aggressive, senior and/or otherwise deemed difficult to adopt. Many of the animals on this list have very good behavior ratings but due to being “sick” they are subject to being killed less they infect the “entire population at the shelter”.

Dogs and cats in the Super Urgent folder are those animals who’ve either been on the TBD list” before and are still alive for the moment OR those who need urgent placement for health/age reasons. After a dog hits the TBD list once, they can be killed at any time and without further notice.

Dogs and cats in the Urgent folder are deemed healthy, with no apparent issues at the moment but may find themselves on either of the above two lists as their circumstances change.

What do the ACC behavior ratings mean?

ACC places ratings on animals according to the following standards. These are NOT to be taken as gospel! It’s more important to read the comments from the volunteers who actually spend quality time with these dogs and cats as many of these animals are tested during highly stressful times such as at intake.

Initial Medical Behavior Evaluation

The following is a list of color codes and descriptions that ACC uses to classify an animal’s behavior.

GREEN animals were relaxed, easy to handle, and who showed no concerning behavior during the exam.

BLUE animals were tense and nervous but mostly still and relatively easy to handle during the exam.

YELLOW animals were nervous, actively resisted examination, and required the use of restraint equipment or techniques, but did not exhibit aggressive behaviors during the exam.

ORANGE animals required the use of restraint techniques and/or equipment and did exhibited aggressive behaviors during the exam.


RED animals exhibited severe aggression and required the use of significant restraint and/or sedation during the exam.

How long will the ACC hold a dog or cat before making them available for adoption or rescue?

Stray holds are 72 hours for all animals that are 4-weeks of age and up who come in as strays. When you see a “due out” date it means that is the date by which the animal can be either pulled for adoption, rescue or put on the TBD list.

Any animal under 4 weeks old can be put down upon intake.

Owner surrenders can be put down at any time, but in most cases get over 24-hours.

The only exception to this is if their behavior is too aggressive to safely house them in the shelter or if the animal is so severely injured or in such bad shape medically that it is inhumane to not euthanize them.

What is a “SAFER”?

SAFER = Safety Assessment For Evaluation Rehoming

The SAFER Test focuses on learned behaviors, sensitivities, and problem solving. This test provides shelter staff with the ability to evaluate a dog’s behavior accurately and efficiently improving the chances that the adopted dog will remain in his new home.

 The SAFER Test process:

  • The Stare Test gives clues regarding the dominance and submission of an animal.
  • The Sensitivity Test assesses social skills, sensitivity levels and level of fear.
  • The Tag Test determines dominance aggression and fear aggression.
  • The Pinch Test determines sensitivity, dominance and lack of bite inhibition.
  • The Food Aggression Test determines food aggression
  • Dog-to-Dog Aggression Test determines sociability with other dogs

Who is Mayors Alliance?

There is a group in NYC called the Mayor’s Alliance which was formed to pursue a grant to transform New York into a No Kill community. Despite their name they are not part of city government and have nothing to do with the Mayor. In 2005 they got that grant which continues today from a philanthropic organization called Maddie’s Fund, a foundation that provides grants to communities seeking to be No Kill. The original target to make New York City a No Kill community was 2008, that goal has since been extended to 2015.

The Mayor’s Alliance consists of NYCACC and over 200 No Kill rescue organizations in the NYC area. These rescues are referred to as New Hope Partners. These organizations get money from this Maddie’s Fund grant, administered by the Mayor’s Alliance to incentivize activities such as adoption. NYCACC also receives other support such as funding for certain staff positions (among other things) and the Mayor’s Alliance promotes rescue and adoption overall and hosts events in New York City.

Do all New Hope Partners pull dogs and cats from the shelter?

First of all, it is important to understand that “New Hope” is NOT, in and of itself, a rescue organization. New Hope is a program by which rescues must apply and receive approval before being able to pull from the shelter. While there are over 200 New Hope Partners, not all of them actively pull animals from the shelter on a regular basis – here is not the place to discuss why that is but, rest assured there are many of us who are active and readily available to assist. This is where the volunteers at Urgent Part 2 can be instrumental as they are familiar with who is “active” and can guide potential applicants toward those rescues who can actually help get an animal to safety.

What region of the Country will rescues pull for?

Every rescue is different however most will only pull animals for adopters who are in an approximate 4 hour radius from the shelter: NY, CT, NJ, MA, VA, MD, and PA. We cannot pull animals for adopters/fosters who reside out of the Country. There are regulations that prevent us from doing so and while there have been many individuals from Canada who have expressed interest, it is simply not possible for us to place an animal with them.

Why won’t the rescues pull animals outside of this radius, especially when there are so many volunteer transports available? Wouldn’t we be able to save more animals that way?

Every rescue has an application process, one that, more often than not, requires a home visit. Home visits are critical in the evaluation of a potential adopter and/or foster as the rescue is responsible for the care and well-being of every animal that they pull from the shelter. We must know that the animals we are rescuing are going to a safe, balanced home where they will be treated as a cherished member of the family, kept safe and respectfully cared for. The last thing we or they want is to find our rescued dogs/cats back at the shelter or worse. We rely on volunteers (usually other fosters/adopters) from our rescue to conduct these visits and do not have the resources to perform home visits outside of the proximity where our current volunteers reside.

We also need to ensure that IF there was a problem, be it with a foster OR adopted dog, that we have the means and transport ability to get the dog into another of our homes in short order. This is made almost impossible if we were to adopt/foster out dogs beyond a reasonable driving radius.

Do the rescues look at the threads, especially for the To Be Destroyed dogs and cats?

The answer is generally “NO”. The rescues are run by volunteers who, like you, have families, have jobs and have lives outside of the rescue itself. Even so, you will find that the leaders of each rescue work hours upon hours a day trying to help get animals to safety as well as provide support for their existing network of fosters/adopters. You know the old adage, “there is not enough time in the day”? Well, this sentiment has never been truer than it is with rescue. Given our limited resources, we are more productive doing the above as opposed to reading through the threads hoping to find someone who may have an interest in helping. Therefore, if you are posting for someone to contact you, YOU WILL BE WAITING A LONG TIME. All potential adopters/fosters must take the initiative to proactively contact a rescue directly when looking to pull a dog or cat. Again, this is where UrgentPart2 is invaluable as they can direct you to the websites and proper contacts to make this happen.

What do the ACC placement status descriptions mean?

ACC uses placement status abbreviations and descriptions, which are defined below:

(N) NO BEHAVIOR RATING (B) BEGINNER HOME: These are cats and dogs without significant concerns in their previous history, in-shelter observations, and SAFER assessments. The information available suggests that this animal is unlikely to need significant training or management and that the adopter is not likely to need specialized knowledge or experience to meet the individual animal’s needs.

(A) AVERAGE HOME: These are cats and dogs are those dogs without significant concerns in their previous history or in-shelter observations and, for dogs that have only minor areas of concern based on the SAFER assessment observations.

(E) EXPERIENCED HOME WITH SPECIFIC COUNSELING: These are cats and dogs with some concerns in their previous history or in-shelter observations, and/or for dogs who exhibited some concerning behavior during their SAFER assessment.

(EA) EXPERIENCED HOME WITH SPECIFIC COUNSELING & NO CHILDREN: These are cats and dogs with behaviors that would preclude placement in a home with small children for safety or humane reasons.

(R) NEW HOPE PARTNER PLACEMENT ONLY: These are cats and dogs with concerns in their previous history or in-shelter observations (including a previous bite history) and/or for dogs who exhibited aggressive behavior during their SAFER assessment or could not be safely assessed. This category may also apply to animals that require training and/or behavior modification before they can be placed in a permanent home.

(NP) NOT AVAILABLE FOR PLACEMENT: Not available for placement designations may apply to those cats and dogs with serious concerns in their previous history or in-shelter observations, including severe and unpredictable aggression; a significant or damaging bite history; significant, dangerous aggression to other animals; and those who pose a significant threat to public safety.

How does pledging work?

Pledging is a promise to pay for a particular animal in need. You can pledge any amount you like – every bit helps. Rescues depend on donations to help animals in their care with medical and behavioral issues so your dollars support their ability to help ACC animals every day. Some of these animals end up with massive medical and training bills. Pledges go directly to the rescue to offset ALL medical, boarding needs of ALL dogs within the rescue. They do not go to the Foster, or the Adopter. Pledges help every dog within our organization.

Okay, so I applied to three rescues and I have not heard a thing…I am in a complete panic because the clock is ticking!

We hear this time and time again and while I would like to say that this never happens, it unfortunately does. It is one of the reasons why it is suggested you apply to at least three rescues when looking to pull a dog or cat. Some things you can do to aid the process:

  1. Once you submit your application, send an email to Urgent Part 2 and let them know who you submitted to and for which animal you submitted. They may be able to help with the follow-up or at least provide you with a direct contact to reach out to yourself;
  2. Go on to each rescue’s Facebook page and private message them. Let them know you submitted an application, give them the name and ID number of the dog/cat you are looking to pull AND where they are located (NYC-Brooklyn-Staten Island). BE SURE TO PROVIDE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION;
  3. BE WARY OF PEOPLE OFFERING TO HELP YOU VIA PRIVATE MESSAGE. This is hypocritical of me to write because often I am someone who IS private messaging potential fosters/adopters HOWEVER, if you have no way of verifying who this person is and, in particular, if they are with a rescue, do not blindly trust them. Be sure to fill out three applications regardless of who contacts you and do not assume that what you read on the threads from “do-gooders” is accurate or true. An animal is only safe once it is listed as such on the UrgentPart2 page OR if you receive direct confirmation from a rescue that the dog/cat has been pulled for you.
  4. If there is a phone number either on the Facebook page or on the rescue’s website, call it. Better to be persistent than to sit back and hope.
  5. Lastly, do not update the threads with every little contact you have with the rescues. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to save these animals and we are never 100% certain that we will have our request fulfilled (someone may beat us to it, or they may be returned to owner, etc.). Human nature is such that when we get nervous, we want to share what is going on with everyone but this only adds fuel to the frenzy. Moreover, if someone was to post that a dog/cat was being pulled by a rescue, without having final confirmation that the pull was a success, the dogs/cats life could be in jeopardy as most people will move on to the next animal in need assuming that this one is taken care of. This is how animals die at the shelter. In short: Once you are working with a rescue, STAY OFF THE THREADS.

I just received confirmation that I got the dog/cat I put in for…Yeah! Now what?

I always found this part to be similar to how I feel right before a big event – nervous and excited, both at the same time! Here is what you need to do to prepare:

  1. Get a collar (harness if it is a small dog) and a lead;
  2. Get a crate, big enough where the dog/cat can turn-around, stand up and stretch out but not so big that they feel overwhelmed. The rescue/pet store can help you get the right size;
  3. Get water/food bowls and figure out where the dog/cat is going to be fed. If you have other dogs, they should be fed away from them, at least initially (see Two Week Shutdown and Dog-to-Dog intros doc for more on this);
  4. Get dog/cat food – I usually buy both wet and dry food. We don’t really know what these animals are used to eating and, moreover, we don’t know how good/bad their teeth may be. Hard kibble may be difficult for a geriatric animal or one whose teeth are loose due to injury;
  5. Purchase a dog/cat bed (if using) and any grooming supplies you think you will need;
  6. Most importantly, read our Two Week Shutdown and Dog-to-Dog (Cat) Intro’s document. Very important!!!!

Does the rescue pay for all of the items mentioned above if I am fostering a dog?

No, the rescue does not pay for these or any other items that you wish to buy for your new furry friend. The rescue relies on donations and contributions from the public and while our hearts are plentiful, our pockets are not that deep. We will pay for all required medical care – vet visits, procedures, medications.

 However, remember that like with any charity, all of your purchases toward the animals care (toys, beds, jackets, food, cleaning supplies, leads, etc.) are tax deductible. Save all of your receipts and talk to your accountant about that when you file.

How and when will I receive my new pet?

Transport will be coordinated by the rescue and Mayor’s Alliance and usually the dog/cat will be delivered to your home (or, if you are very far, to a mutually agreed to place) within a couple of days. You will receive both an email requesting your availability as well as a confirmation of transport once things are finalized. Obviously, it goes without saying that someone must be home to receive the dog/cat.

Wow, I just received my cat/dog and they are filthy? Matted? Covered in urine/feces?

Yup, it happens. These animals are coming from hell and you should not expect that your new pet is going to come to you groomed in any way. In fact, you may find that upon arrival, you pet is in dire need of a bath. DO NOT BRING THEM TO A GROOMER…YET. They have just gone through one of the most horrific experiences in their lives and they are now being thrust into a totally new environment. They are tired, scared and completely overwhelmed. The last thing they need is to be brought to yet another new facility and be man-handled. IF you feel that your new pet needs a bath, give them one yourself. Be gentle, be quick and be kind – and perhaps wait a day or so if you can or, at the very least, a few hours for them to realize that your home is a safe place.

I have personally had instances where I received a dog whose hair was so matted that it felt like a helmet. Well, in that case, (if you are a foster parent, call the rescue first) off to the vet you should go. Why the vet and not the groomer? Because many dogs in this condition will need to be sedated in order to be safely shaved down. Once they get to this point, they are likely in a lot of pain (imagine your hair being twisted to the point that your skin on all sides is pulled perpetually) and are generally miserable. They need a little supportive medical attention to get them cleaned up and ready to accept their new life. Oh, and please, do not try to shave them yourself – it won’t end well for anybody, trust me!

We do not pay for grooming for our foster pets! I wish we could but we simply do not have the budget to afford that. So, if you feel that you want to do this or that it is necessary, it will be an out-of-pocket expense for you.

Lastly, if I can suggest, take pictures on this first day of your new pet. The change you will see in the next couple of weeks will be remarkable and is a testament to the good work you are doing. WE LOVE FREEDOM PICTURES so please share – you are part of a very exciting new community.

What do I do if my dog/cat seems sick or otherwise in pain?

This is very important. Most animals will come to your home with an upper respiratory infection (in dogs it is called kennel cough). They will be sent to your home with a 10-day course of antibiotics, usually doxycycline, which will help to clear things up. Don’t panic over this – this is the equivalent of a human cold and while contagious to your other animals (not to humans), most people avoid the spread of this upper respiratory infection, by keeping their animals separated for the first few days and not sharing water bowls for at least a week or two. Many report that even with minimal contact, their current healthy pets did not catch it. Unless you have a very young or very old medically-fragile pet, the URI should not develop past a “cold” and is not a reason to NOT adopt.

However, if you find that your new pet has some additional ailment CONTACT THE RESCUE RIGHT AWAY. They can guide you on next steps and, specifically for our foster parents, we will provide approval for and work with your vet before any medical procedure or visit is conducted.

Speaking of kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection, how do I handle that?

Speaking of kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection, how do I handle that? Some animals will come to you sounding worse than others. URI’s tend to get worse upon exertion and therefore it is recommended that you keep your new pet quiet as they recover. This should not be too difficult given that you are following the Two Week Shutdown but know that if your new pet gets over excited, their coughing may increase. If you do not have any other animals, all you will need to do is be sure to give your new pet their required medicine each day (usually twice per day with a meal).

If you have other pets, you will need to keep them separated at least for a few days until the antibiotic kicks in and they are showing signs of recovery. Again, if you are following the Two Week Shut Down, you will likely be doing this already. Regardless, just like with kids, the more your dog’s/cats interact with each other, the more likely they will be to infect one another. No one is going to die over this but they will get the sniffles and feel pretty crummy, resulting in your having to go to the vet to get more medicine.

Of course, if you notice that your new pet is getting worse, having a problem breathing, wheezing, lethargic, call/go to the vet right away. They could be sick with something else, like pneumonia that requires more acute treatment. (For our fosters: call us first please unless it is an emergency that requires urgent care.)

..MY…God…my new pet is pooping blood?

Don’t freak out – it happens often to shelter animals given the amount of stress they are under. Often they come from the shelter with something called stress colitis and it causes them to suffer bouts of diarrhea tinged with blood on occasion. If you see this, call your vet to discuss. Depending on the severity, they may have you come in for an exam, OR they may have you watch it for a day or two, particularly if your new pet is acting otherwise normal (eating, drinking, playing) to see if it corrects itself, which it often does. Again, if you are one of our Fosters, please call us if you notice anything like this so we can assess next steps with you and your vet if needed.

Ugh, my foster dog/adopted dog is peeing in the house? The shelter said that he/she was housetrained, now what?

There are a few things that could be at the root cause of this and it is nothing to be alarmed at. Many times, dogs in particular, will mark their territory when confronted with a new environment. They can do this out of stress, fear, the desire to make the new home ‘theirs’ or, particularly for small dogs, it could be that they were paper trained and are confused as to what then new rules are. If you suspect it is territory marking, house training again through use of the crate can often provide for quick modification of the undesired behavior.

Essentially it is this: when in the house, put the dog in the crate if you are not directly interacting with them. When you do take them out, put on a lead and go right outside. Do not come in until they “do their business” and once they do, praise, praise, praise. Then, bring them back inside and put them back in the crate unless you plan on interacting with them directly for some time. IF THEY DO NOT DO THEIR BUSINESS, put them right back in the crate. It is not a punishment, but they need to associate outside with using the potty and the only way they are going to do that is through repetition and positive reinforcement. “I go potty, I get praised and get to play/eat/interact for a little while. If I don’t go, I go back into my crate.” Dogs are pretty smart, especially ones that have already been housebroken and just need a little refresher so this will not take long to correct.

Also worth noting is that this can be an issue sometimes for male dogs in particular if:

  • the dog is not yet neutered, and/or
    • there are other animals in the house, particularly other male dogs

In the case of neutering, that is something that you should look to do right away. It will generally take a couple of weeks for the dogs’ hormones to adjust completely but this, coupled with some house training will cure the issue almost every time. In the case of other animals, house training via the crate is usually a quick fix as well.

How long will it take for my foster to be adopted?

The rescue will work with each foster in an effort to find their adoptable dogs a loving forever home. However, we need your help if we are going to be successful as YOU WILL KNOW THE DOG BEST. Therefore, we ask that you provide the rescue with pictures (preferably those that show their personality – with children, other animals, etc.), videos and biographies. We have an advertising form which we ask every foster to fill out which can help focus you on what is important to include in the biography.

There are many variables that effect the time frame for getting a dog adopted. Some dogs go from foster to forever home within just a few weeks, others may take a few months depending on their needs (health and behavioral). The bottom line is that we rely on you as much as you rely on us to help advertise and screen potential adopters for our pets. We want to ensure that every pet adoption is a successful one and ask that if you choose to foster a dog for us, that you understand that the commitment is not finite and you are expected to care for that animal for as long as they need, no matter how long that may be.

Why is there an adoption fee? What does that money go for?

Our adoption fee includes the cost for vaccinations (DAPP2 and Rabies) and other medical care; and to often help the many medical needs dogs we save.

Acronyms to know:

  1. MOP – Member of the Public
  2. NH – New Hope
  3. RTO – Return to Owner
  4. DOH Hold– Department of Health (Hold)
  5. SAFER – Safety Assessment For Evaluation Rehoming