KENT CO., Del. – The Kent County SPCA is gearing up to once again take over dog control services for the county, after Georgetown's Safe Haven shelter, now $200,000 in debt, failed to keep up.
The SPCA currently runs dog control services for Sussex and New Castle County, and they had provided dog control services to Kent County between 2010 and 2012. However, Safe Haven won last year's contract.
"We felt at the time that Safe Haven might be able to do it," says Kent County Levy Court President P. Brooks Banta. "They unfortunately ran into some difficulties, ultimately we had to make some changes."
The new contract will ultimately be the same contract that the county had with Safe Haven, but with a few new changes to make sure that the transition runs smoothly. Commissioner Banta says they will offer free customer service training that the SPCA can show at their own facility, or they can come to the county building. Most importantly, the county council will nominate a member to serve on the SPCA board.
"Therefore, we will have additional insight into the operation."
The new contract also features a new system for filing complaints, which will require all grievances to go to the county administrator. From that point, the administrator will bring the complaints they find to be most pressing to the SPCA.
"This will make it more of a process," says Kevin Usilton, executive director of the Kent County SPCA. "It helps us to really deal with which complains are legitimate."
Usilton says the new contact may also be cheaper for tax payers.
"By combining resources with Sussex and New Castle Counties, it's a cost saving initiative for county residents, because they're sharing many services, including one Director of Animal Control and one dispatch office."
The SPCA says the new contract would increase their business by about thirty percent, so they plan to phase in about ten new employees, including more officers and veterinarians. They plan to use the contract money for these positions, along with other resources needed to accommodate the influx of dogs.
"It will get busy with the foot traffic, phone calls, and all of that, but we're looking forward to it," says Lynn Brey, adoption counselor for the SPCA.
The final vote on the new contract will take place at the Levy Court meeting on Tuesday. County leaders also discussed implementing a county-run dog control program, but Commissioner Banta says this could not simply happen overnight, and it is something they can consider over the next ten months. He says they would need to look into a number of factors, including funding and space.
"The county program would take time, and we need to give the SPCA an opportunity to prove themselves, and if everything comes out as planned, then we will be very pleased with that."
Commissioner Banta says he fully expects the Kent County SPCA to be in control of the dogs starting October 11st.
"I think this is going to be a good marriage, I think this is a marriage that will probably survive."
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