This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website and the Delaware County Daily Times‘ website.
WEST GOSHEN — The Chester County SPCA (CCSPCA) has been covering both Chester and Delaware counties, but now, it has added the Wilmington, Delaware, area to its list.
After shocking news that the First State Animal Center and SPCA, which served the entire state of Delaware, decided to close its doors in 60 days, the state scrambled to find a way to care for and rescue animals in need.
“They created an animal welfare department a few years ago so it’s now a statewide department and they just passed legislation to take over the animal control and cruelty investigations,” said Adam Lamb, executive director of the CCSPCA. “When that was passed, the current provider that services cruelty cases, animal control and the housing gave them 60 days notice per their contract that they were terminating all services offered. Even though the contracts went into 2017 and 2018, they decided to cancel services with all the independent counties they had contracts with.”
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The newly-formed Office of Animal Welfare will be taking over for the state starting next year from the First State Animal Center and SPCA (FSAC-SPCA), which was announced last month.
As of Sept. 15, the FSAC-SPCA effectively terminated the contracts and has left the state of Delaware with a giant hole to fill until January 2016.
“It created a really difficult situation for the animals because the animals, realistically, wouldn’t have a safe place to go and the owners won’t have the option of finding them,” Lamb said.
There is nothing mentioned on the FSAC-SPCA website about the termination.
However, there is a post on its news tab about the Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) dating back to Aug. 6 where it makes mention that Senator Patricia Blevins and the OAW were deceitful during a presentation to the FSAC-SPCA.
“Senator Blevins states how she would like all of the shelters to come together to make a plan for a Dog Control in the state, and create an establishment of a public/private partnership,” the post reads. “No meeting after this one ever occurred to discuss the matter any further. There were no meetings with board members, government, or the public as she stated.
“Instead, the change for the state to take over Dog Control was decided in the wee hours of the morning, pushed through by Senator Blevins, herself, as part of the state budget.”
There are other shelters located in Delaware, but none of them would have the ability the FSAC-SPCA had in giving them a place to stay.
“None of them are open-admission shelters that are able to take in the number of animals that First State took in,” Lamb said. “They were averaging around 3,000 animal intakes for the year for the entire state, and that’s dogs only.”
To help the state in its time of need, the CCSPCA stepped forward to lend some services for the three-month void.
“(They) aren’t in a position to do animal control, but they are in a position to help us and partner with us as an alliance,” Lamb said.
The CCSPCA will not be servicing the entire state of Delaware. Instead, they will be taking over only in Wilmington and Kent County.
Because the CCSPCA already has many animals, the majority of dogs will not be coming across state lines for shelter.
Instead, they will have places to stay in Delaware, making it easier both on the dog and owners.
“We’re putting into place some temporary emergency-sheltering locations,” Lamb said. “All of these animals will be held in the county or the city where they came from for five days so the owners have the ability to locate them. After (the five days), we have a satellite adoption location we’re going to put up where the animal can then go.”
Unfortunately, the services will be, for the most part, just for dogs.
“In their state, they do not do cats, but only dogs” Lamb said. “For our interim-basis, we’re just going to be doing the dog control side of things and dog calls. If we get cat calls that are sick and injured or something of that nature, we will definitely respond.”
The CCSPCA is not only helping the dogs in Delaware, but also people.
“We have hired individuals that were being terminated from the organizations that had the contract, so a lot of the people who will be providing the animal-control services in the state are currently working for the provider that terminated their contract,” Lamb said. “It’s nice that we’re going to be able to give them employment for an extra four months while they try to find replacement jobs.”
For the CCSPCA, it’s another positive step forward for the shelter, which has been working hard to achieve a better status since Lamb took over last September.
“A lot of people are looking to us to see how we’ve accomplished the no-kill status,” Lamb said. “Ultimately, their goal is to have the same thing happen over there.”