MEDIA–The will discontinue its stray animal boarding contracts with county municipalities beginning July 1, leaving and and other governments with no institution in place to care for stray animals.
Currently, 34 of the 49 municipalities of have contracts with the SPCA, a non-profit that promotes animal welfare. Under these agreements, municipalities may bring stray animals to the center, and the SPCA bills these municipalities $116 per animal, according to SPCA spokeswoman Justina Calgiano.
“It is truly a public and health safety issue, and it legally belongs to the county,” Calgiano said of the abandoned animals. “We're really asking them to take back the ownership.”
Calgiano said the bulk of the agency's financial and staff resources are currently allocated to the animal control program, and the $116 fee does not necessarily cover overhead costs of maintaining the facility.
Approximately 70 percent of the animals the SPCA houses are strays, and the remaining 30 percent come from owner turnover cases, when owners can no longer afford their pets, and cruelty cases, in which the agency seizes animals from abusive owners, she said.
“We've been overwhelmed by the strays,” Calgiano said. “There could be 18 animals that come in over night, and you just have to find room for them.”
She said this policy change is in accordance with the SPCA's goal of becoming a no-kill shelter by July of 2012.
By eliminating the burden of the strays turned in by the municipalities, the SPCA would be able to help control the population by reallocating its resources to spay and neuter clinics, which reduce animal overpopulation without euthanizing these animals, Calgiano said.
“We're trying to create programs that will reduce the number of strays or keep animals with their homes or really help with veterinary care by providing low cost services,” she said.
The SPCA also recognizes there will be animals that will be caught in between, and a future expansion of the facility is not out of the question. However, no such plan is currently under serious consideration, she said.
The Consortium of Government (COG) has formed a task force to investigate strategies to manage animal control in Delaware County's municipalities after the contracts expire on June 30, according to Delaware County Councilman Mario Civera Jr., who helped to set up the committee.
In January, the COG task force requested the SPCA extend the contracts until July 2012 to allow the municipalities more time to reach a solution, but the SPCA refused this request, Civera said.
Though this county task force is working to help the municipalities, he said the county does not have adequate revenue to assist the municipalities financially.
“We don't have that type of money in our budget to do all 49 [municipalities],” Civera said.
He said though he appreciates the SPCA's goal of becoming a no-kill shelter, he worries about the fate of the county's stray animal population when the contracts expire June 30.
“The other aspect is those animals are going to die somewhere, whether they're at the SPCA or on the street,” Civera said.