Shelter update

We are happy to share that Young-Williams Animal Center has reached zero cases of distemper. We have resumed full use of our facilities and our adoption and spay/neuter departments have returned to normal operations.

Thanks to four weeks of round-the-clock collaboration between a team of dedicated consultants, experts, our unwavering staff and public support, we were able to take immediate and decisive actions to ensure the health and safety of our animals and the community.

Ultimately, we achieved an 87% save rate of dogs in our care, with 160 dogs saved out of a total population of 187. This extremely high save rate is generally unheard of compared to the typical outcome of distemper in shelters, and we could not have made this happen without your help.

Shelters throughout the nation, and especially in our Southeast region, are battling distemper, and we know that one of the main causes of the spread of canine disease is the high intake of dogs into the shelter.

2024 is on track to become another record year for the intake of stray dogs. After several years of this trend, the animal welfare community has identified that the primary cause is lack of pet owner education on responsible ownership coupled with a lack of resources.

It is of utmost importance to us to protect the animals in our care and those in our community, and the best way to do that is to reduce the number of pets in the shelter while our educational and pet owner support programs as well as our Animal Services team continue to work at the root cause.

To continue to protect the animals in our care, and in alignment with recommendations we have received from national experts, we will be taking several immediate actions:

  1. We will step up our efforts to encourage adoptions and make pet ownership accessible to all of our local residents, to fulfill our mission to find a forever home for every pet. Starting this week, we will launch a 3-day Empty the Shelters “Let FREEdom Wag” adoption special July 5-7, with all pets being FREE, thanks to the BISSELL Foundation. No exceptions. Please help us share and promote this exciting event!
    • We have already conducted several discounted adoption events, and will continue to do so with the help of grants and funding from national partners like the BISSELL Pet Foundation and our valued local sponsors.
    • We will also continue our efforts to provide supplies, support and other resources to pet owners in need to help them keep their pets. Please consider donating to these efforts here.
  2. We will temporarily remain on limited intake status.
    • Emergency-only intake: Intake of animals will be limited only to cases affecting public health and safety.
    • Owner surrender of pets continues to be suspended.
    • Starting Monday, July 8, the intake of stray dogs will be by appointment only: Those seeking support should contact the Pet Resource Center at 865-363-6702 or [email protected].
    • If you find a stray dog, keep it for a few days and help look for the owner: If you can to help this pet, we’ll support you by providing any supplies you may need. Young-Williams Animal Center along with Young-Williams Animal Services is asking all residents of Knoxville and Knox County to refrain from bringing stray dogs to the shelter. Dogs only have a 10% chance of being reclaimed once they go to a shelter. The public can help keep animals out of the shelter by looking for their owner, who is typically within a mile radius and usually within a few streets. When you find a pet, remember two things: search to see if the owner is looking for them and tell everyone about the found pet to see if they recognize them. By temporarily holding on to a healthy and friendly pet and searching for their home, you are giving them a much better chance of getting back to their family. Also, post the pet on Petco Love Lost, which is linked to other neighborhood apps like NextDoor and Ring.

Our staff greatly appreciate the words of support and love we have received as they poured their hearts and energy into safeguarding our dogs these last few weeks.

Thank YOU for helping us prioritize the animals in our care, vulnerable pets in our community and pet owners through this challenging period: We will make a lasting impact together!