Delaware County beginning work on animal shelter

Posted: October 27, 2011

Delaware County is one step closer to having an animal shelter.

On Thursday, officials gathered in the rain for a ceremonial groundbreaking at the future site of the Municipal Animal Shelter at the Delaware County Emergency Service Training Center in Darby Township.

The building, expected to cost $1.2 million, should open in mid- to late May, officials said.

The need for a new shelter was triggered by the Delaware County SPCA's decision last year to become a "no-kill" facility by 2012. The private shelter informed the municipalities it would not take in stray animals after June.

After sometimes contentious meetings, the shelter in Media agreed to stay open until the end of the year. County officials agreed to pay part of the costs of animal care.

In July, the county established a nonprofit corporation to handle animal control and appointed a nine-member board headed by Thomas J. Judge Jr., chief administrative officer of Upper Darby Township.

The county had hoped to have a solution by autumn for housing animals. Now, with the SPCA contract about to expire, officials seek a temporary solution for sheltering strays.

The county is considering contracting with three or four facilities to take in strays until the shelter opens.

Judge said he believed in taking things one step at a time. Now that construction is beginning, he said, he would initiate a search for a person or company to run the facility.

The search will be regional and will include Delaware and New Jersey, Judge said. "The goal is to get the right person."

Fund-raising efforts will not begin until all the paperwork has been completed and approved by state and federal agencies, Judge said.

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149,, or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.

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