The irony is dog-gone confusing. A Kent County organization provides dog-control services in Sussex County, and a Sussex County organization provides services in Kent County, and it will remain that way at least for another year.
With little discussion at its Dec. 4 meeting, Sussex County Council unanimously approved staff's recommendation to renew its dog control contract for one more year with Kent County SPCA.
Kent County SPCA's bid of nearly $670,000 was more than $250,000 less than the $927,000 bid offered by Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary of Sussex County, the Georgetown-area animal shelter that provides dog control services to Kent County residents.
Eddy Parker, county assessment director, said both organizations' original bids were more than the county's budget projection, and negotiations took place looking at ways to cut costs. Kent County SPCA went back to the drawing board and trimmed about $63,000, while Safe Haven trimmed $13,000.
County Finance Director Susan Webb said both organizations looked at reducing coverage hours as a way to trim expenses.
Safe Haven Executive Director Anne Gryczon attended the bid award and afterward said she was not disappointed that her organization came up short. “We really need more time to look at our numbers realistically,” she said. “We'll look at the real costs and then come back next year.”
She said Safe Haven is in its fifth month providing Kent County's dog control. The organization took over the last year of Kent County SPCA's contract when the organization could not reach an agreement with Kent County Levy Court.
“We really need a year to look at this and do it well and do it properly,” Gryczon said.
She said regardless of the numbers, her main concern is the welfare of dogs. She said Safe Haven has been able to maintain its no-kill policy as it administers dog control in Kent County.
The submitted bids differed significantly in two areas: veterinarian costs and facilities. Kent County SPCA projected vets to cost $75,000 and facilities to cost $100,000. Safe Haven's proposed budget included $295,000 for facilities and $135,000 for veterinarians.
Councilman Sam Wilson, R-Georgetown, asked how much revenue was collected by the county for dog licenses over the past year; he was told $120,000.
“We just lost $550,000 on dog control,” he said. “I make a motion we give it back to the state.” The motion, made in jest, did not move forward.
Until 2009, the state contracted with Kent County SPCA for dog control in all three counties. In a cost-cutting move, Delaware's General Assembly voted to turn the service over to the counties, and since then Sussex County has spent nearly $2 million for dog control.
A state task force, of which Gryczon is a member, is working toward a March 30 deadline to evaluate and make recommendations to Gov. Jack Markell and General Assembly leaders on improvements to a statewide approach to animal welfare.
Dog licenses on sale starting Jan. 1
Dog licenses for 2013 will be available beginning Jan. 1, and must be obtained for the calendar year by March 1 for dogs 6 months or older. For spayed and neutered dogs, the annual cost is $10; for nonspayed and unneutered dogs, the cost is $15 yearly.
Dogs must be current on their rabies vaccinations at the time the license is obtained. Fees will be waived for seeing-eye, lead or guide dogs and those that have previously served in a branch of the U.S. military.
Licenses are available in one- to three-year increments, and are valid through Dec. 31 of the expiration year. Owners who fail to comply with the county’s licensing requirements face an initial $50 fine, with a maximum fine of $100 for repeat offenses within a 12-month period.
Applications can be made online or in person. Visit sussexcountyde.gov and click on the “buy your dog license today” link on the lower right side of the main page or stop by the county administrative office building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information about dog control services and licensing requirements, call 302-855-7380.