Office of Animal Welfare fails animals and people

August 21, 2018

The Cape Gazette recently reported on an elderly dog breeder who surrendered more than 50 dogs to Brandywine Valley SPCA.
The story offered a bit of good news, at least for the dogs that were surrendered. They have been housed at shelters in Georgetown, New Castle and Pennsylvania, and some were cleared for adoption.

But that's not the end of the story.

Delaware Office of Animal Welfare officials last month received a complaint of animal cruelty about the breeder's property; officers who responded found unsanitary conditions and other violations. They issued notices for corrective action, but no charges were filed. As a result, the office has not released the breeder's name or location.

Officials said the breeder agreed to reduce the number of dogs in her care so she could properly care for the remaining dogs.

That's what resulted in Brandywine Valley SPCA sending a team of 15 medical and animal specialists to provide vaccinations and treat for heartworm, fleas, ticks and other problems. A Brandywine Valley SPCA spokesperson said the dogs received $20,000 in services, in addition to the costs of emergency boarding of the dogs that were removed.

Officials also said more than 100 dogs remain at the property.

Does anyone seriously believe a person who ended up with 154 dogs in her care is capable of caring for the remaining 100 dogs? How could an elderly person avoid ongoing unsanitary conditions with so many animals to maintain?

More troubling, how could the agency that has assumed statewide authority for addressing animal complaints walk away from a property that still houses 100 dogs?

There is no need to fine or jail an elderly person whose work with animals apparently got out of hand. At the same time, leaving dozens of animals in the care of a person clearly overwhelmed by their needs is just plain wrong, for the breeder and for the animals.

It shows serious mismanagement of the agency that is charged with overseeing animal welfare. The lack of compassion for the breeder aside, leaving her with so many dogs amounts to animal cruelty at the hands of state government.



  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.