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FAQ: Intake Programs

Do you accept stray animals, and if so, is there a fee?

Knox County and City of Knoxville strays are accepted at no charge by members of the public and animal control. YWAC does not accept strays from outside of Knox County.

Please note, stray animals are defined as being found abandoned or lost, and cared for by a good Samaritan for less than 10 days. Caring for an animal for over 10 days does qualify as assuming ownership of that animal either to keep or rehome.


Do you accept owner surrendered animals, and if so, is there a fee?

Yes, we accept owner surrendered animals by appointment, as space allows. The fee to surrender a pet is $50 per pet and $100 for litters. Our facility will often spend $400 or more preparing your pet for adoption, so that fee only covers a small portion of the overall costs associated with rehoming your pet. If you are not able to pay the $50 fee, we will work with owners on a per case basis to waive that fee. ​

I don’t want to give up my pet, but I don’t think I have any other options. How can you help?

You aren’t alone! An ASPCA study showed that more than 40% of pet owners who surrendered to a shelter just need temporary assistance. Our first priority is to keep animals in homes that provide loving care, but just need temporary help, so we’ve created a Safety Net program. Here’s how it works:

Prior to scheduling an appointment for intake of privately owned pets, our staff will take the time to get to know your situation and assess opportunities to help you keep your pet. We have a variety of resources available to help with financial hardship, pet behavior issues, medical problems, pet-friendly housing, food and more. To find out how we may be able to help you keep your pet, please call us at (865)363-6702 or e-mail

I really cannot keep my pet, why can’t I just drop him off at the shelter?

Like all animal shelters, Young-Williams Animal Center has limited physical capacity for animals. As a result, we cannot take all animals in at all times without putting animals at risk for illness, behavior problems associated with stress, and ultimately euthanasia. Our main focus is, first and foremost, to help stray, abused and abandoned animals, but we cannot do that if we also take in owned animals without a managed system in place to integrate them successfully into our adoption program.

If your situation cannot be resolved by our Safety Net program we will schedule an appointment for intake (generally within 2-3 weeks, depending on space availability). In the meantime, we will provide you with tips and resources for privately rehoming your pet prior to your intake appointment so hopefully your pet will not need to enter the shelter at all.

Believe it or not, you are your pet’s best option for finding a new home. Some people think shelters or rescue groups would be best for placing your pet because we have experience, facilities, screening guidelines, etc. However, an individual, particularly one who knows the animal, can focus all their efforts on that pet, provide the most information to prospective adopters and best determine the appropriateness of a new home. Also, shelters are stressful for animals. The shelter setting, no matter how nice, can bring on stress-related problems. Anxiety, aggression and even illness are common, and these natural reactions may make adoption difficult or impossible.

If you decide that you do need to rehome your pet, we want to help you become your pet’s best advocate for finding a home. You can follow the guidelines below to maximize your search efforts and help your pet make a smooth transition into their new home. Keep in mind that finding the right person or family for your pet may take some time and effort, but your patience and hard work will pay off in the end in providing your pet with the highest quality of life.

**Some people are hesitant to publicize information about their pet because they fear that people who would treat the pet unkindly will respond. Remember, you are in control of where your pet is placed. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and follow up on them.

I can’t afford to pay a $50 fee to surrender my pet, will you work with me?

Absolutely. We understand that financial hardships are a reality and have a process in place that allows our staff to defer or waive fees. Fees will never be a barrier to surrender if it is truly in the best interest of the animal.

What if I’m too ashamed to tell you the truth?

We often have owners claim their pet is “a stray they found” rather than admit they can no longer keep it. Although this is a difficult time for you, it is in the best interest for your pet that you disclose the truth. If we receive your pet as a stray, it will be kept for 3 to 5 business days waiting for someone to claim it, before being prepared for adoption. Not only will your pet experience stress during this time, it will be occupying valuable space for animals that are genuinely stray, or are available for adoption. Once you have disclosed you are the owner of the pet you can also provide us with important details about your pet that will help it find the right home. If your pet is a spayed female, you can notify us, preventing your pet from undergoing unnecessary additional surgeries. It is for these reasons that it is never a good idea to leave your pet unattended for the purposes of having it impounded as a stray.

Aren’t you afraid that people are not going to want help, or just abandon their pets?

Honestly, yes, we were initially concerned about animals being abandoned, but this practice has been done all across the country, including here in the South, without this fear becoming a reality. The shelter closest to us both geographically and in size to try this is Greenville County Animal Care, and they report to have had no increase in the number of stray, abandoned or deceased animals coming in since the change.

While there will always be people who make bad decisions, Young-Williams Animal Center is consciously shifting our focus from fear-based policy addressing the small percentage of “bad pet owners,” to proactive, service-based assistance that helps the 80% of caring pet owners who need support. However, if you see or become aware of a citizen abandoning their animal, please contact us immediately.

Other communities to have implemented this “best practice” of Managed Intake are: Brevard County, FL; Huntsville, AL; Indianapolis, IN; Waco, TX; Aiken County, SC; Anderson County, SC; Bakersfield, CA; Baltimore, MD; Boone County, KY; Campbell County, KY; Carroll County, GA; Columbia, SC; Floyd County, GA; Kenton County, KY; Lafayette Parish, LA; Louisville, KY; Memphis, TN; Montgomery County, TX; Murray County, GA; Nashville, TN; Osceola County, FL and Whitfield County, GA.

Here is what our friends at Greenville County Animal Care had to say about managing their owner surrender intake:

“Just like you or I are expected to make an appointment for any type of non-urgent services we receive (like a doctor or dentist appointment), and just like we have to make an appointment for a non-urgent service for our pets (like a spay/neuter or vet appointment), pet owners should be expected to make an appointment if they would like assistance with rehoming their pet at an animal shelter. And just like scheduling spay/neuter surgeries in a clinic doesn’t lower the number of surgeries that clinic can perform, scheduling appointments doesn’t mean shelters limit the number of animals they take in. It does mean that they can effectively manage them and that is good for the health of the animals in the shelter, not to mention it can dramatically improve each animal’s chances at being adopted. 

We are also expected to pay for most every kind of service that is provided to us. If we receive medical care, we pay a fee to the doctor. If our dog gets a bath and nail trim, we pay a fee to the groomer. If we are selling our home, we pay our realtor a fee. And when we need help rehoming our pets, we should be expected to pay a fee for that service. That fee allows shelters to make that animal ready for adoption. It gives them the funding to support the important programs that enable pets to be marketed and adopted. 

Many people worry that not taking every dog and cat people bring into an animal shelter and/or by charging a surrender fee, that more animals will be dumped, abandoned on the side of the road, neglected, hit by cars, and animal control will receive more pick-up calls as a result. But in communities that implement surrender by appointment and charge surrender fees, they do not find this to be true. 

In our community in Greenville County, we also have not seen this happen. We have had a surrender fee in Greenville County since 2007 of $35 for individual pets and $50 for litters. In 2016 we increased that to $65 for individual pets and $100 for litters. We did not see any increase in animal control calls in 2007 when we implemented our surrender fees, nor did we see an increase in 2016 when we increased the fees. In fact, we have seen a 15% decrease in service calls for animal control in the past two years and a 28% decrease in dog and cat pick-ups.

Surrendering pets by appointment and with a service fee in open admission animal shelters just makes sense—from a practical standpoint, from a logistical standpoint, from a financial standpoint, and most importantly from a life-saving standpoint.”


Are you a kill or no-kill shelter?

Our facility is proudly no-kill status, but this does not guarantee a live outcome for every animal that enters the system. No-kill is defined as live outcomes for more than 90%, or as not euthanizing healthy/treatable animals. Young-Williams Animal Center has developed guidelines that support our efforts to ultimately achieve 90%+ and will not euthanize animals due to space or length of stay. There must be a severe medical condition and/or severe behavioral problems for an animal to be euthanized.