Delco rejects extending animal control contract deadline

Would a homeless shelter close its doors knowing that the people it once served would have no roof over their heads? That's just what the Delaware County SPCA did to thousands of stray dogs and cats today when they rejected a last ditch attempt by local officials to convince them to take in strays for six more months till they could get a new shelter built.

My colleague Mari Schaefer filed this report:

The Delaware County SPCA declined an impassioned plea Thursday from local officials to extend the municipal animal control contracts for six months.

Last year the private nonprofit shelter announced as of July 1, it would no longer take in strays.

The SPCA board members told county council at a public meeting they could not legally extend the deadline and keep within their charitable mission. They could also not redirect limited resources away from programs to continue municipal animal control, they said.

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

Only a handful of the county's 49 municipalities attend the meeting, even though by state law, they are charged with animal control. Most still have no Plan B come July.

About two-thirds of the unwanted animals at the shelter came from municipalities. Last year, Upper Darby and Chester City accounted for 41 percent of the strays dropped off at the SPCA. Chester officials were not in attendance at the Thursday meeting, but Upper Darby was.

The county said they have a plan in place to begin construction of a shelter. They do not have an organized group to run the facility.

County and municipal officials recently procured a three-acre tract on Calcon Hook Road in Darby Township free of charge from the Darby Creek Joint Sewer Authority. The land has been cleared by community-service workers, according to Mario Civera, a county councilman who has been working with the municipalities. And union representatives have agreed to provide some volunteer labor.