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State steps in to provide some animal welfare services

Delaware Public Media

The state is taking over some animal welfare and pet services sooner than expected under the new header of Delaware Animal Services.


Hetti Brown is executive director of the state's Office of Animal Welfare. She says the new department was already in the works for 2016 -- but they had to speed things up when the state's old animal services contractor quit unexpectedly earlier this summer.


Their last day was Tuesday. Now, Brown says, the state has taken over some of their duties.

"We handle statewide animal cruelty complaints, as well as rabies control, which means if a person was exposed by a bite or scratch to a potential case of rabies," she says.


The state isn't handling animal control yet -- as in, when a pet or wild animal is loose -- but Brown says they will come January.


"The highest volume of calls, absolutely, is for animal control services," Brown says. "However, we have a good volume of calls coming for rabies control. Unfortunately, people are bitten or scratched every day by an animal that is not vaccinated against rabies in Delaware, and we have to investigate all of those cases."


The new animal services office has a $3.5 million budget. Brown says they hope to offset the cost of the early start with revenues from things like dog licensing fees.


For the rest of 2015, Sussex, New Castle and Kent Counties and the city of Wilmington will still handle animal control individually through contracts with Chester County, Penn.’s SPCA and First State Animal Control.

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