Delco SPCA to extend deadline on strays if county picks up tab

A breakthrough for Delaware County strays! You will have shelter come July 1.

My colleague Mari Schaefer reports that the Delaware County SPCA has announced it will extend the June 30 deadline for animal control if the attorney general signs off on the deal and the county picks up the costs for the care of the animals.

“This isn’t saying we are going to grant them [an extension] but this is us doing the very best that we can.” SPCA spokeswoman Justina Calgiano.

Delaware County Councilman Mario Civera cheered the development.

“I think it is positive news they are moving in a positive direction,” said Civera.

"Now it is time for us to sit down with all the proper authorities," he said. “I think it is good news.”

Cue major sigh of relief from area animal lovers (and the several thousand animals who go missing each year).

The news comes this afternoon, shortly after County Councilman Mario Civera made another plea to the SPCA board - eight days before it was to give up the animal control contract.

Presumably, it wil give the county time to construct a shelter. More details as they come.

Here is the report from today's Inquirer, before a deal was reached:

Eight days remain until the Delaware County SPCA shuts its door to stray animals, and county officials are again trying to get the shelter to extend its deadline.

County Councilman Mario J. Civera Jr. wrote a letter, dated June 20, asking the shelter's executive director, Richard Matelsky, for a meeting with the SPCA board.

Last year, the small Media-based shelter gave notice it would no longer continue municipal animal control contracts. The municipalities account for about 66 percent of the strays - nearly 2,000 animals last year - that are brought to the SPCA.

As part of its fund-raising efforts, the shelter has promised to become a "no kill" facility by 2012, meaning it will no longer euthanize adoptable animals. The facility can hold about 280 animals at one time.

In his letter, Civera asked that the shelter continue to take in strays. "It is not and has never been a request that you extend your 2012 deadline for becoming a no-kill shelter," he wrote.

On Friday, the shelter rejected a plea from the county and municipalities to extend its deadline for accepting strays. SPCA officials said they could not legally do so and stay within their charitable mission. Nor could they afford it.

At that time, county officials offered to help work out any legal issues the shelter would face, and offered to provide funds to help with animal care.

Civera said Tuesday the county is moving ahead with plans to erect a new shelter on a three-acre tract owned by the Darby Creek Joint Sewer Authority located on Calcon Hook Road in Darby Township.

The county has also filed the paperwork to form a nonprofit to oversee the shelter. A nine-member board will be appointed by the county, Civera said. He stopped short of indicating whether there will be any public input or open positions on the board, which will include municipal officials.

The board, he said, will be charged with finding a group to run the shelter.

Civera said the county is conducting a campaign to get residents to license their dogs. It will be contracting with an online service at some point, he said.