Kent County SPCA awarded dog control contract

No-Kill Alliance looks to take over from Safe Haven
September 10, 2013
The Kent County SPCA received a dog control contract for Kent County formerly held by Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary. The contract will take effect Tuesday, Oct. 1. BY FILE

The Kent County SPCA has been tapped to pick up the ball left behind by Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in fulfilling Kent County’s dog control contract.

The Kent County Levy Court voted 6-1 at a Sept. 3 committee meeting to turn over the contract formerly held by Safe Haven to the Kent County SPCA. A formal vote by the Levy Court will be taken at their Tuesday, Sept. 10 meeting.

Kevin Usilton, executive director of Kent County SPCA, said the decision was a win-win for dogs in Kent County.

‘We’re happy that Kent County residents will have a full service dog control service back within their community,” Usilton said.

Councilman Eric Buckson said going with Kent County SPCA was the best option because they were within the county and could take up the contract by Tuesday, Oct. 1. He said once it was established that Kent County SPCA could do the job, they were the best fit.

Kent County SPCA will pick up the remaining nine months and $860,000 on the dog control contract that had been held by Safe Haven, the troubled Georgetown shelter facing $200,000 in debt. The Levy Court terminated Safe Haven’s contract on July 30 by a 5-2 vote.

Prior to the Levy Court’s Sept. 3 meeting, a petition began circulating from a group called Delaware No-Kill Alliance, demanding that Safe Haven not be considered to resume the contract. The alliance picked up more than 600 signatures prior to the meeting. Buckson said while he was aware of the petition, it did not have a bearing on his decision.

The group consists of former and current volunteers of the Delaware SPCA, veterinarians and animal activists. Among them is Lisa St. Clair, owner of Tail Bangers, a gourmet pet food store in Millsboro. She said the alliance is proposing to temporarily take over Safe Haven and take care of the dogs and relocate them to new homes as the shelter restructures. The terms for this arrangement, St. Clair said, are that the current Safe Haven board must step aside.

“Our proposal would have us rent the building from Safe Haven for $1, take over the utilities, operations, medical needs and management for a temporary period of time. There would be no intake during this period.  We would only be concentrating on getting the existing animals properly cared for,” St. Clair said. “We would need to occupy the facility, however, as there is nowhere for these animals to go, due to the possibility they may spread disease and no one has room for 112 dogs and counting.”

St. Clair said the proposal would allow Safe Haven to focus on getting its financial house in order while the alliance takes care of the animals. Attempts to reach board members of Safe Haven for comment were unsuccessful.

“We hope that the board will take us up on our offer,” St. Clair said. “It’s a win/win for the community, the dogs in their care and for them.  If they will just admit they are in over their head and step aside so qualified people can come in and properly care for the animals they would regain the public’s confidence, proving they really do have the best interest in mind for the dogs.”

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