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Animal Protection Board Urges Municipalities To Sign Shelter Contract

At least 39 to 41 of Delaware County's 49 municipalities must sign the three-year, $250-per-animal contract by Jan. 1 if plans for the new shelter are to move forward.

On Saturday morning, the met with representatives from about 30 municipalities, urging officials to sign a three-year, $250-per-animal contract for the . Without signed letters of intent from 39 to 41 municipalities, the project will not go forward, Animal Protection Board Chairman Tom Judge said.

The deadline for municipalities to sign the letter of intent is Dec. 16.

Packed into a lecture room at Marple Township's Delaware County Community College campus, more than 50 municipal officials and residents listened as Judge and Delaware County Councilman Mario Civera detailed the current plans and figures for the animal control facility.

A Radnor Township Police Department attended the meeting.

Service and Operational Costs

Municipalities will pay $250 per stray at the new animal control facility following its estimated completion between May and June 2012. That's a steep increase from what municipalities have paid for animal control services under the , which under the terms of the mid-2011 extension, costs municipalities $116 per stray animal. However, Delaware County currently pays an additional $125 per stray animal, for a true cost of $241 per stray.

The increase in price per stray for municipalities actually reflects the fact that municipalities will be footing the entire bill under the new contract.

"$250 is cheap," Judge said. "When [the SPCA] was charging 35 bucks, it was a deal."

Municipalities will pay $250 per stray for the first two years of the three-year contract, but the price will go up to $275 for the third year. During the third year, 2014, officials will work to determine the actual cost per stray, and then charge municipalities a fee based on the true cost. That could mean a decrease or an increase in cost in 2015, Judge said.

Under the new animal control contract, municipalities will pay a $1,250 annual fee for operating costs of the new facility. However, municipalities will receive a $250 credit for each of the first five strays brought to the facility. For municipalities that have less than five animals a year, a credit will be given toward their annual participation fee for the following year.

Shelter Details and Logistics

The new facility will be capable of holding 45 to 55 dogs and 66 to 130 cats. No other species of animals will be accepted.

Animals must be delivered to the facility by a township's animal control officer, not by residents. Residents who find strays must take them to their municipality's animal control officer.

Some residents may take "stray" animals that are actually their own pets they no longer want, to a municipal official, Judge said. In such cases, municipalities can accept the stray for free, or if the animal actually belongs to the resident, municipalities have the option of charging the resident the $250 stray animal fee.

Judge said that as far as he knows, cases of animal cruelty will continue to be handled through the SPCA.

The staff of the new facility will work with as many animal rescue groups as possible to find strays new homes, Judge said.

Interim Animal Control Plans

Since the , plans are in the works for dealing with strays

While nothing has been made official, it is very likely that the Chester County SPCA will be providing animal control services for Delaware County municipalities' strays in the interim, Judge said. Stray animals would be delivered by the municipality's animal control officer to the Chester County SPCA for a $250 per stray cost, payable to the Delaware County Animal Protection Board.

Deadlines for Signing Up

Each municipality must submit a letter of intent by Dec. 16, indicating their intention to sign on to the three-year contract. A resolution must be passed by Dec. 31, and a signed contract must be submitted by Jan. 1, 2012. The $1,250 annual participation fee will be due within 30 days of signing the contract with the Animal Protection Board.

Judge urged municipalities to sign the contract, and said that without letters of intent from 39 to 41 municipalities, the project could not go forward.

Judge said the Animal Protection Board would try to have sample letters of intent and other materials emailed on Monday so municipalities with Monday night meetings could place the issue on their agendas.

"[Without committments,] we can't go forward with the construction of this facility," Judge said. "… You can't hide from it. Some people say 'Oh, we don't have any animals,' … but you're not coming to this animal protection facility if you don't make a commitment. It's the municipalities' responsibility to move forward on this."

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