New Office of Animal Welfare prepares for January startup

The director of Delaware’s new Office of Animal Welfare checked in with the Sussex County Council on Tuesday, Dec. 8, to talk about plans for animal control services in Sussex County.

Hetti Brown explained to the council that the newly formed Delaware Animal Services will be the enforcement unit that answers calls for concerns about rabid animals, improperly sheltered animals and the like. The Sussex County unit will operate out of the Stockley Center in Georgetown. Brown said seven officers have been allocated for Sussex County, but that could change as the offices begin operation and staffing is fine-tuned. There will be 20 officers statewide, Brown said.

Also, a statewide lost and found pet registry will be available online in January.

There will be a state-run shelter in Sussex County, although the location has not been determined yet. The operation of the shelters — one in each county — will be contracted by the Chester County (Pa.) SPCA, according to Brown.

The county council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the State for the operation of the animal control services in the county. The services will cost the County $56,885 per month — the same amount it had paid a non-profit organization before the State Office of Animal Welfare took over the task.

County Councilwoman Joan Deaver asked Brown about barking dogs, which she said is a continuing complaint in her district. Brown said that there is currently no “barking dog ordinance” in Sussex County, and that such “nuisance dog” complaints would actually be handled by the state Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control.

The new state-run animal control services will begin operation in February.