With the SPCA's Dec. 31 animal control deadline approaching and Delaware County's new animal shelter not expected to open until May, county officials are working to develop an alternate animal control plan for the first third of 2012.
In 2010, the to become a no-kill shelter starting July 1, 2011, at which point it would no longer accept stray animals from municipalities. After a series of and an 11th hour meeting (the night before the deadline) with Delaware County officials, the SPCA through Dec. 31.
In July, the , tasked with the goal of building a new municipal animal shelter to provide the animal control services that SPCA will cease on Jan. 1. The county's plan was originally to have a new shelter up and running by fall that would provide animal control services for Delaware County municipalities.
Typically, however, the process of finding a location, fundraising, building and coordinating animal control services is a 36-month process, Animal Protection Board chairman Tom Judge said.
"When you're building a $1.2 million, or $1.3 million building, and the building has to be set up specifically for the care of dogs and cats, there are lots of details associated with that, and we're making progress," Judge said. "I'm not surprised by the timing. I knew in June that the timeframe was aggressive, and it just proved to be more aggressive than we thought."
Officials , located in Darby Township, on Oct. 27. The goal is to open the new municipal animal shelter by May 2012, according to Judge.
"It's just impossible to build a shelter in six months—I don't know that we could have moved faster than we did," Judge said.
Even so, with Dec. 31 approaching, there are four months between the end of the SPCA's animal control services and the expected operational date of the new municipal animal shelter.
Judge said the Animal Protection Board is currently investigating three options for interim animal control providers, including a veterinary hospital in Springfield.
"We're making good progress on [researching options]—it's not finalized in any way, shape or form, but should be finalized by the end of November," Judge said.
The board will continue discussing options in the upcoming month, then evaluate the proposals for interim animal control services. An operator should be chosen by the end of 2011, Judge said.
If no interim animal control protocol is in place by Jan. 1, the legal holding facility for a stray is the police department in the township where the stray was found, Director of Community Relations at the SPCA Justina Calgiano said.
The procedure is the same as the one already in place for strays found in one of the 11 Delaware County municipalities that do not have agreements with the SPCA—including Aston, Ridley and Haverford townships.
"We would hope that those officials would be able to direct people to the appropriate place. Ideally, if the municipality would be able to share with us their plans, we'd be able to tell people [what to do]," Calgiano said. "We're obviously going to try to help out as much as possible."
Both Calgiano and Judge were asked about the possibilty of another deadline extension for SPCA services.
Judge said the SPCA had, "told us point blank no," but the Animal Protection Board would be open to it, if the SPCA was willing.
Calgiano said she would not comment on the possiblity.
"That's not something they've asked us for. I will say that as of Jan. 1, 2012, the Delaware County SPCA is out of the animal control business," Calgiano said.
Before the end of November, the Animal Protection Board plans to hold a meeting with all 49 Delaware County municipalities to update them on where the board is in the building process and what the financial cost is for municipalities.
Judge said the board had borrowed a $1.2 million loan from the Darby Creek Joint Authority to build the facility. Fundraising will also be done on an ongoing basis to pay for services once the facility is up and running.