Cape Gazette

Sussex paying more for dog control in 2014

No money included for canine barking ordinance
By Ron MacArthur | Dec 06, 2013
Photo by: Ron MacArthur Animal control officers from First State Animal Center and SPCA provide dog control services in Sussex County.

Sussex County will have to pay a little more for dog control.

Voting 3-1 vote at its Dec. 3 meeting, county council approved a contract of nearly $683,000 to First State Animal Center and SPCA for services in 2014. That amount reflects a 2-percent increase of nearly $13,400 from the previous year. County Finance Director Gina Jennings said most of the increase is to more accurately reflect veterinary expenses. First State Animal Center is the new name of Kent County SPCA.

The contract does not include $35,000 for another full-time employee to enforce a barking dog nuisance ordinance being considered by county council. Council President Mike Vincent, R-Seaford, said the contract could be amended to include the additional funding if council approves the ordinance.

Even though Councilwoman Joan Deaver, D-Rehoboth Beach, voted against the contract, she said she supports the barking dog ordinance. “The SPCA told us that we needed the ordinance and my understanding was there was no extra charge,” she said. “Then they came back and said they needed more money. I didn't like the way it was handled.”

The contract supports four full-time animal-control officers and one supervisor who man shifts from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

According to a report presented to the county from the SPCA, officers answered more than 3,200 calls from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30. Included in the calls were 959 for dogs at large, 100 for injured or distressed dogs, 70 for cruelty cases and 37 for nuisance dogs. More than 830 dogs were taken to shelters with 200 returned to owners. Officers responded to 255 dog bite and 108 cat bite complaints.

The SPCA conducted nearly 1,770 license and 1,870 rabies checks and issued 140 citations. Officers traveled more than 110,000 miles during the first nine months of 2013.

Jennings said an analysis of the program shows that it would cost the county more than $900,000 to provide the same dog-control service. She said the additional $300,000 would be required to start up the program with the purchase of five vehicles, equipment, weapons and training. In addition, she said, the county would need to set up a dispatch center to accept calls related to dog control.

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