State Taking over Animal Control Much Sooner Than Expected - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

State Taking over Animal Control Much Sooner Than Expected


CAMDEN, Del. (WBOC) - The dog days of summer are certainly in Delaware's future. The future of dog and animal control in Delaware is uncertain.
The First State Animal Center and SPCA in Camden is responsible for animal control in all three counties and Wilmington.
Due to a change lawmakers made at the end of this year's legislative session last month, the center is giving up that role and giving it to the nearly-two-year-old state Office of Animal Welfare. 
The transition was to have started in 2016 and take through 2017. Now it looks like the state will have to be ready by mid-September.
This week the First State Animal Center and SPCA board voted to exercise 60-day out clauses in its animal control contracts. Those contracts total more than $3 million or more than three-quarters of the center's current budget.
Executive Director Kevin Usilton say the decision is about an expected lack of staffing.
"Our employees are already looking for jobs somewhere else," he said. "We knew that we would lose three-quarters of our employees, who are supported by dog control and cruelty contracts."
Usilton says the organization employees 65 people. And without animal control, 42 of those people will lose their jobs.
Lawmakers authorized 23 positions for state animal control services. Usilton has serious concerns about the state's ability to take over.
"They should have been moving on this process the day it started. It's not our fault if they're not if they're not prepared. They are the ones who set the course. They need to follow up with the course."
The Office of Animal Welfare disagrees with Usilton's assessment.
"... we are confident that the Office of Animal Welfare can meet the challenge presented by the decision of the Board of the Directors at First State Animal Center," read, in part, a statement sent to WBOC from the office.
The statement goes on to say officials will meet with representatives from the counties and Wilmington early next week. It adds the office is committed to making sure there isn't an animal control service interruption.
Officials say it will be selecting vendors for sheltering, care and adoption services. And it says its policies on euthanizing animals will be based on the state's laws on the practice.
First State Animal Center and SPCA is eliminating some services due to its changing role. It will no longer have an adoption center at the Dover Pet Smart.
It will start offering doggy daycare and boarding as a way to generate extra income.

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