• Susan Houser

News Roundup 9-27-15

The animal control and sheltering situation in the state of Delaware is in transition. A private organization named the First State Animal Center and SPCA (formerly the Kent County SPCA), which has been in operation for many years, had acquired animal control and sheltering contracts for Delaware’s three counties (Kent, Sussex, and New Castle) and the city of Wilmington. But the state government decided last year to take over animal control for the entire state, and this past summer it started the process of forming an animal control unit and hiring its own animal control officers. The state takeover of animal control was supposed to be phased in gradually in the different counties as the First State animal control contracts (which still had 6 to 18 months to run at that time) ran out. Then the First State board of directors abruptly voted to cancel all of its animal control contracts effective September 15th. First State reportedly made the decision to end its contracts early because it was concerned that its employees, who had been looking for other jobs since the state announced its intention to take over animal control, would resign and leave it without enough staff to service the contracts. This meant that the state had to implement its plan to take over animal control much sooner than it had expected.


September 15th has come and gone, and a temporary plan is now in place. The new state agency, Delaware Animal Services, will handle cruelty cases, rabies enforcement, and animal control calls throughout the state starting January 1, 2016. In the meantime, each county has made its own plans to cover animal control for the rest of the year. Kent County and Wilmington entered into a temporary contract with the Chester County SPCA in Pennsylvania. First State has agreed to cover animal control for Sussex and New Castle counties for the rest of the year.


There will be potential advantages to having animal control centralized in the state, but it is not clear at this time where and how strays picked up by animal control in each of the four jurisdictions will be sheltered. In July, First State announced that it was getting out of the business of housing strays, and that after its animal control duties ceased it would take in only owner surrenders and would become a No Kill shelter. First State is also reportedly pushing a bill that would take away or modify the status of cats in Delaware as free-roaming.


In other news:

  1. The Franklin County Dog Shelter in Ohio (Franklin County contains Columbus and has over 1 million people) is reportedly running at an 87% live release rate. Shelter director Kaye Dickson, who started with the shelter last March, says that only dogs with health and behavior problems are euthanized. Statistics on the website show an 81-82% live release rate for June, July, and August, not counting owner-requested euthanasia. In 2014, owner-requested euthanasias represented about 5% of the 11,000 dogs taken in to the shelter.

  2. Maddie’s Fund has an article about how shelters in another Ohio city, Cleveland, have an informal partnership to help each other with emergencies such as hoarding busts. The lesson is that even in cases where the organizations in a city do not want to invest a lot of time in crafting a formal coalition, informal arrangements can accomplish a lot.

  3. More from Maddie’s — the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida is reporting a record enrollment in shelter medicine courses of 427 students for 2014-2015, plus 111 students who have completed the certificate program, and the launch of a brand-new Master’s degree in shelter medicine. Here is a report on this and other news from the program.

  4. The Million Cat Challenge is closing in on 300,000 cats saved by the shelters enrolled in its program. I still run across people active in animal sheltering who have not heard of the Million Cat Challenge. How can that be?

  5. Arin Greenwood reports in the Huffington Post about one smart landlord who has figured out how to acquire long-term, grateful tenants: rent only to people who have pit bulls. With so many landlords reluctant to rent to owners of “pit bulls,” this is a market waiting to be captured.

  6. Sarasota County in Florida is discussing a possible law to regulate commercial sale of animals by stores. The most recent commissioners’ meeting on the topic was standing-room only. A public hearing will be held in January.

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