Delaware welcomes another ‘no kill’ animal shelter

With the addition of Sussex County’s “no kill” Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, that makes five large animal shelters in the state.

“No kill” is defined as a 90 percent save rate, 10 percent euthanasia rate. Currently, Kent County SPCA is the only large shelter that does not fall under the “no kill” umbrella. According to statistics on the shelter’s website, about 43 percent of its animals were euthanized in 2010, including healthy, treatable and untreatable cats and dogs.

KCSPCA also stands alone in the fact that it’s the only open door shelter for dogs, limited access for cats. The shelter also handles animal control in all three counties.

“No one that gets into animal welfare wants to come into this work to euthanize animals,” said KCSPCA spokeswoman Mary Ann D’Amato.

Because KCSPCA is not “no kill,” D’Amato says her organization has been made out to be the bad guy.

“I think you have to make courageous decisions. Are we benefiting an animal by not performing humane euthanasia versus poison, shoot, drown… hit by car, you know, those types of things that are the undocumented deaths.”

Delaware SPCA, with shelters in Stanton and Georgetown, used to be open access for many years, meaning any animal could be dropped off. DSPCA went “no kill” in 2009, and with cats and dogs staying longer, Executive Director Anne Cavanaugh says animals do get turned away. 

Additionally, the DSPCA canceled its animal control contract with the city of Wilmington, effective June 30, ending a 120-year partnership. Cavanaugh says her shelter can no longer accommodate all of the incoming animals.

“As time has gone on, it’s become more and more financially unfeasible for us to continue because the city really only pays for the officer part and not so much for the care of the animals.”

“It does create challenges for us because we will not euthanize unless we have a real, you know, serious health issue or behavior issue, but we have manageable issues, but they take up space now,” said Delaware Humane Association‘s Patrick Carroll.

Delaware Humane is also a “no kill” shelter in Wilmington, which initially, along with Wilmington-based Faithful Friends, came about as “no kill” alternatives to DSPCA and KCSPCA. But with DSPCA now on the “no kill” bandwagon, the majority of Delaware’s shelters share the same philosophy, and compete for the same dollars, resources and animal adopters.

Carroll said when DSPCA went “no kill,” the two shelters talked about merging, but the timing wasn’t right. However, Carroll left open the possibility of revisiting that conversation in the future.

First explores the issue of a “no kill” Delaware and whether that’s the right move for the state, as well as where the state’s pet population numbers stand. You can watch the story tonight on First, at 5:30 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. 

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