A Delaware animal shelter is changing its policy on taking in unwanted animals.

The Kent County SPCA announced it will only be able to accept owner-surrendered pets if they have the space to keep the animal. If the shelter is full, the pet will be put on a waiting list until space becomes available. They will still have an open door for lost or stray pets.

“It’s a matter of space,” explained Elizabeth Butts, spokeswoman for the Kent County SPCA. “We have been working very diligently to reduce our euthanasia numbers and the only way to do that for us at this point in time is to reduce our intake. We’re a concrete building. Once it’s full, it’s full. Every possible place we could put animals in a humane, clean and sanitary manner, has animals.”

Butts said the adoption rates are not as high as the intake rates.

“Adoptions are down,” she said. “Yesterday we did five adoptions but the day before that there were only two.”

The shelter is currently at an 8.3 percent total intake euthanasia rate, something Butts said they’ve worked hard to achieve. Any shelter operating under 10 percent is considered a “no kill” facility.

The shelter’s policy is to euthanize animals it considers unadoptable such as animals that are “medically untreatable, diseased, injured, or aggressive.”

Butts said there are a number of financial resources for pet owners who think they can’t afford to keep their animal. 

“Usually the reason a person turns in an animal, especially in this economy, is financial,” she explained. “So we just ask everyone to please keep in mind, there are so many resources available for people to keep their pets in their home so don’t automatically go to the worse case scenario. We, twice a month have low cost vaccine clinics. We also have a pet pantry where you can get free food for your pet.”

While the pet is on a waiting list at the shelter, Butts also advises owners to turn to social media or ask a local vets office to put up flyers to help find a replacement home for the unwanted animal.

The new policy takes effect today.