As expected, Kent County Levy Court awarded its dog control contract to the Kent County SPCA, after its agreement with Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Georgetown fell apart.
Kent County was forced to cancel the $869,000 contract in July after the year-old no-kill shelter became overwhelmed with dogs and debt.
Kent County SPCA Executive Director Kevin Usilton says it’s picking up where Safe Haven left off, using the remainder of Safe Haven’s contract with the county, $660,000, to take over dog control effective Oct. 1 through June 30, 2014. The contract is renewable for two more, one year terms.
“When Kent County came to us, they obviously have egg on their face from dealing with Safe Haven, and they want to make sure the Kent County SPCA is living up to our obligations to them,” Usilton said.
Consequently, certain concessions were made on both sides. As part of their agreement, Usilton says, a Levy Court member will sit on Kent SPCA’s board, his animal control officers will undergo customer service training and a formal complaint process will be put into place, something Usilton requested specifically.
“Now if there is a complaint, the commissioner will go to the county administrator, the county administrator will submit the complaint to me in writing and I have 10 days to reply. If that reply is not satisfactory for the commissioner, they can take it up with our board,” Usilton detailed.
Lone hold out
Commissioner Jody Sweeney was the only one who voted against giving the contract to Kent County SPCA during last night’s meeting, saying, “as long as that executive director is in charge of the SPCA, I don’t see a successful resolution and I will not support a resolution with them.”
Negative feelings toward Usilton aside, Sweeney is in favor of creating a county-run “dog warden office,” a resolution other commissioners encouraged him to pursue.
Office of Animal Welfare
Rumors are when the state-run Office of Animal Welfare opens Oct. 1, the state will take over animal control.
“We don’t know what’s happening with the Office of Animal Welfare,” Usilton said. “[Sen. Patty] Blevins has promised people behind closed doors that they’re taking over dog control, but has never said it publicly. So I don’t think the state is going to be able to do it, but we kind of hope that they will.”
Sen. Blevins, D-Elsmere, chaired the Animal Welfare Task Force that created the state-funded office.
“No, the state isn’t taking over any animal control duties right now,” Blevins wrote in an email. “The feasibility will be explored by the Animal Welfare Office, but it’s not on the horizon yet.”
With the Kent County contract, the Kent County SPCA now provides animal control services statewide.