Chesco animal shelter under more scrutiny

Posted: August 22, 2013

Following reports of animal mistreatment and rising euthanasia numbers, a Chester County state senator and Delaware County councilman said Tuesday that they would look into conditions at the Chester County SPCA, a regional hub for stray dogs and cats.

The center takes in about 5,000 strays annually from all of Chester County and, under a $30,000-a-month contract, most towns in Delaware County. Some SPCA volunteers and ex-staff members as well as a former board member say it has become a "kill factory."

State Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D., Chester) said he wondered if the Delaware County agreement had stretched the shelter beyond its resources.

"The SPCA was doing fine until this Delaware County contract came along," Dinniman said.

At a May 17 state kennel inspection, the shelter received unsatisfactory grades for housekeeping, maintenance, and record-keeping.

Board president Conrad Muhly did not return calls for comment.

Dinniman said he had heard concerns about increasing euthanasia, unfilled senior management positions, and lack of effective leadership. He said he planned to talk to the board and would visit the shelter within the week.

He said the Delaware County deal might have overwhelmed the center. "If that is the case," he said, "the SPCA has to ... reconsider the contract or come up with the resources to see that each animal is treated appropriately."

Delaware County officials are concerned about the reports and plan to investigate, Councilman Mario Civera said.

"Our long-term goal has always been to bring [stray animals] back to Delaware County," he said. For that to happen, the county needs to work out financing and who would operate a shelter, he said.

Former volunteers and staff members have met this week to air concerns about the 84-year-old shelter.

In addition, about 45 current staff and volunteers of the SPCA attended a meeting Monday night. "We had a private meeting," said Rich Britton, SPCA spokesman, who declined further comment.

A volunteer who attended the meeting but asked not to be named expressed surprise that only a few board members attended.


Contact Mari A. Schaefer at 610-313-8111, mschaefer@phillynews.com or @MariSchaefer on Twitter.

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