Animal Control Situation Officially Shifted Temporarily Wednesda - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Animal Control Situation Officially Shifted Temporarily Wednesday in Delaware

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The Delaware Office of Animal Welfare announced the formation of a new enforcement unit Wednesday. (Photo: WBOC) The Delaware Office of Animal Welfare announced the formation of a new enforcement unit Wednesday. (Photo: WBOC)

DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - Starting Wednesday Delaware is getting by on a mix of animal control services for the next few months as the state prepares to take the responsibility full time.

Earlier this summer the First State Animal Center and SPCA in Kent County announced it was terminating early its animal control contracts. The organization was handling that service for all three Delaware counties and the city of Wilmington.

The state Office of Animal Welfare isn't taking over until Jan. 1. The potential gap in service left the counties and Wilmington scrambling to figure out what to do next. Kent and Sussex counties ended up going in very different directions.

Kent County got the Chester County SPCA to handle animal control on this short-term basis. The West Chester, Pennsylvania-based organization is contracting four local officers, who were sworn in Tuesday. County administrator Mike Petit de Mange says the SPCA looked at the call and sheltering history for Kent.

"They believe four animal control officers will be adequate to provide the coverage for the next three and a half months in Kent County," he said. "We believe that we've found an excellent partner that will provide excellent service for the balance of the year."

Chester County SPCA is handling Wilmington, too.

In a twist, First State Animal Center and SPCA agreed to continue covering Sussex and New Castle counties until the end of the year.

"[That's] even though we only have eight officers to cover those two counties now," said Kevin Usilton, executive director for FSAC & SPCA. "We had nine in New Castle County and five officers and a rabies enforcement officer in Sussex."

Usilton says that could lead to longer response times.

"We hope that we can help make sure that there are no animals left behind or unserviced by this time of transition."

But he adds the whole situation will only last until the state takes over in January.

First state had to hand over a handful of stray dogs from Kent County and Wilmington to the new Chester County SPCA operation. That organization has two locations for short-term kenneling in Kent County with larger shelters in northern Delaware for long-term situations.

The temporary contract with Chester County SPCA is costing Kent County the same as its now-terminated contract would have. Chester County SPCA is the only no-kill shelter in Pennsylvania.

As these changes were happening Wednesday, the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare announced it had launched a new unit - Delaware Animal Services.

It is assuming management of statewide animal cruelty enforcement and rabies control right now. And at the start of the year, it will be handling statewide animal control.

The unit was launched ahead of schedule. Originally the state was to start doing animal control in summer of next year.

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