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State takes over animal control & welfare services

Courtesy: Office of Animal Welfare
This animal-friendly state license plate supports a fund for spaying and neutering pets and other animal services. It comes from the same office that now heads up animal control.

Delaware's new state-run animal welfare office is launching Jan. 1, along with an online lost and found pet registry.

The new Delaware Animal Services fills the role of a former state contractor that backed out in September. Since then, the Division of Public Health's Office of Animal Welfare has been setting up a state-run system with its own employees.

"Delaware Animal Services will be providing all stray dog and vicious dog control, as well as animal cruelty enforcement, rabies control and other enforcement issues concerning animals," says OAW executive director Hetti Brown.

They've hired 20 constables and six dispatchers who will staff a 24-hour hotline and patrol northern, central and southern districts in uniform and marked vans.

Brown says the state will still contract with the Chester County, Penn. SPCA for sheltering services in each Delaware county.

"This really enables the government to do what it does best -- providing enforcement and oversight," Brown says, "and the shelters to do what they do best -- providing animal care and rehabilitation and ultimately a chance for adoption for those animals."

The state is also launching an registry for lost and found pets at Brown says it's the first of its kind in the nation.

On the registry, pet owners can post pictures and descriptions of their lost animal and where it went missing. People who find strays can post them, too. The site also has a search function.

"So if you're looking for a brown dog that was lost in zip code 19803, you can just type some of those keywords into the search function and anything with those tag words will show up," she says.

Animal control officers will be able to access the registry on the road to post or search for strays they pick up. Brown says the state will begin offering dog licensing online later this month.


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