By Howard Monroe

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — If you’re planning on getting a pet for Christmas, local shelters are hoping you would rather adopt than shop. The ACCT Philly says it is over capacity and will soon have to make critical decisions, including euthanasia if dogs aren’t adopted soon.

“We actually just moved and it doesn’t really feel like a home without a pet, so we are looking to add a dog to our family,” Cheyenne Milewski said.

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Milewski is looking for the perfect dog for her and her 2-year-old son Julian, but instead of going to a store, they came to ACCT Philly.

“Just one that fits,” Milewski said. “We weren’t looking for a specific breed. We’d rather adopt than shop.”

While they didn’t find a dog this time around, they’re here at a critical moment for the shelter. The shelter is over capacity.

Acting co-executive director Sarah Barnett says over 50 dogs have been surrendered since the weekend.

“They’re coming in, but they’re not leaving,” Barnett said. “They’re really nice dogs that are highly adoptable.”

Many of the dogs being surrendered are larger and have been in homes their entire lives. Barnett says a major issue is housing.

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Philadelphia’s COVID-era eviction moratorium ended over the summer and she says people are now forced to make decisions on housing vs. pet ownership.

“People don’t have a place to live and it’s really hard to find a place to live with a 60-pound dog,” Barnett said.

Even though they’re having issues clearing their shelter, they say finding the right pet for you is most important if you decide to adopt.

“People wanting to adopt, they want to make it work and it’s our job as a shelter to be able to provide them and set them up for success and really give them guidance,” Barnett said.

With space dwindling they are asking for short-term fosters and a board member is offering $1,000 for each large dog, like a pit bull terrier, that’s adopted.

Jurni Reign is the shelter’s longest resident. She’s been here for over 130 days.

The shelter has resources for people facing hardship.

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