Kent County SPCA announced that it has taken over the dog control contract for Kent County after Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, based out of Georgetown, ceased control of the contract at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20, a week and a half before their contract was to expire.
In July, Kent County Levy Court commissioners canceled the contract with Safe Haven because of alleged financial negligence and infighting among its board of directors. The no-kill Georgetown shelter had taken over the contract in 2012 and was awarded a renewal in 2013 after submitting a winning bid over the KCSPCA.
Safe Haven's contract was scheduled to end on Sept. 30, and Kent County SPCA was contracted to take on the dog control contract effective Oct. 1.
Kent County Levy Court President Brooks Banta confirmed on Friday that the SPCA was to take over the contract that afternoon.
"The SPCA, in this unique situation, stepped up to the plate and has gone above and beyond the call of duty to prepare take over the Kent County dog control contract at 4:30 p.m., today," Banta said Friday afternoon.
According to Kent County Administrator Mike Petit de Mange, he received email communication from the Safe Haven board of directors Friday afternoon, informing him of Safe Haven's decision to end its Kent County dog control services effective Friday afternoon, at which point he worked with Kent County SPCA, which agreed to begin providing its services early.
An email was sent to Kent County officials and leaders of local animal shelters from a member of the Safe Haven board of directors on the morning of Sept. 20, that read "It is with great sadness that Safe Haven announces the closing of its facility on 9/27/2013. The staff will be laid off at end of business that day. There is no money available to continue paying salaries. There are approximately 140 dogs currently at the facility. It is anticipated that all remaining dogs will be turned over to the KCSPCA at that time as there will be no care available at Safe Haven after that date."
However, according to Lynn Lofthouse, a spokeswoman for Safe Haven, that email was sent without the approval from the rest of the Safe Haven board of directors, and that the no-kill shelter has no plans to close until after all of the remaining dogs on the property are placed.
"We are staying open to place the dogs," Lofthouse said. "This is our responsibility and we realize it. We will be staying open to strictly place dogs in good adoptable homes or no-kill shelters. We have donations, so we have money. We are staying open. Nobody should have been sending something out. No one approved closing the doors.
Page 2 of 2 - "We are going to par down our staff to only people who directly relate to taking care of the animals and we are going to focus on getting them placed," she added. "Until they are placed, we will not rest."
Lofthouse said that the shelter is working with the KSPCA, but that Safe Haven is working to place the dogs in other no-kill shelters, some in the northern parts of the country.
"If we can get enough shelters, we'll do a big transport and take them up to those," she said. "We're waiting a month or two to take some [animals] there. We're really starting now to be able to reduce our numbers because we won't have them coming in."
Lofthouse did say that some animals may go to Kent County SPCA, but that the organization will try to adopt those dogs out.
"We thank [KSPCA Executive Director] Kevin Usilton, who took over the contract a week early," she said. "The more dogs we get in, the more dogs we have to get placed. He's also offered to take some of our dogs and get them adopted. He's going to work with us. I know I can call him any time. If he has space, he will help us."
Any dog control calls for Kent County should now be made by calling Delaware Animal Care and Control at 698-3006 (option 1 at the main menu). KSPCA asked that callers please be patient as, it is not at full staffing capacity.