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Delaware Health and Social Services

DHSS Press Release

Date: September 16, 2015

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498


WILMINGTON, DE (Sept 16, 2015) - Today the Division of Public Health's (DPH) Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) announced the launch of a new enforcement unit, Delaware Animal Services (DAS). Formation of the new unit began after the Delaware General Assembly passed enabling legislation last June to centralize animal control responsibilities within the state. Those responsibilities were accelerated considerably when the current contractor declined to provide services after mid-September 2015. DAS will assume management of statewide animal cruelty enforcement and rabies control. Local animal control services still will be managed by New Castle, Kent, and Sussex counties, as well as the City of Wilmington, until their contracts with an outside provider expire. At that time, Delaware Animal Services will also assume responsibility for statewide animal control services.

The reconsolidation of animal control and cruelty enforcement at the state level was first requested in 2013 by the Delaware Animal Welfare Task Force in published recommendations. Since that time, the OAW worked closely with county, city, and state representatives, local animal shelters and welfare organizations, and members of the public to draft two sets of recommendations calling for the establishment of a state-run animal control function.

"After hearing the concerns of the counties and members of the public, we felt this was the best path forward," says Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Health. "By consolidating services, we can ensure that the services we offer are consistent and aligned with public expectations."

Starting today, Delaware Animal Services will manage all reports of animal cruelty and cases in which a human has been exposed to the rabies virus. The program offers a new hotline, 302-255-4646 and email at to report such incidents.

DAS will incrementally assume enforcement responsibilities for animal control laws in January 2016. Until then, Chester County SPCA will provide animal control services for the City of Wilmington and Kent County. Kent County customers needing assistance after hours with Dog Control Services should call 302-300-8244 to reach a Chester County SPCA representative. City of Wilmington customers needing services after hours should call 302-995-7313. First State Animal Center-SPCA, based in Camden, Del., will provide animal control services for New Castle and Sussex counties. OAW is working closely with those entities to ensure service needs are met.

"All agencies are closely coordinating their activities to ensure the needs of the public will continue to be met and to make the final transition of services to the state as seamless as possible," says Hetti Brown, Director of the Office of Animal Welfare.

To temporarily shelter animals detained during animal cruelty investigations, OAW is partnering with the Chester County SPCA. "The Chester County SPCA is very experienced in emergency animal sheltering and in providing service to abused and neglected animals," Brown said. "They were one of the first organizations to offer services when they heard we were in need and we are grateful for their commitment to animal welfare." The Delaware Humane Association, Faithful Friends Animal Society, and several animal rescues have also volunteered to assist the state, and those organizations are working with the Chester County SPCA to provide adoption services for Delaware animals ready to find their forever homes.

The Office of Animal Welfare is launching Delaware Animal Services ahead of the original schedule, after the current animal cruelty and rabies control provider suddenly announced it would terminate services earlier than expected. First State Animal Center-SPCA, which held contracts with the state for these services until June 30, 2016, announced in mid-July it planned to end services on Sept. 15, 2015. After exploring a variety of options, DPH determined that the best path forward to protect Delawareans and their pets was to significantly speed up the planning to assume responsibility for these functions.

To date, the OAW has built the infrastructure to assume such responsibilities, including hiring staff, purchasing equipment, and developing policies and procedures. Said Dr. Rattay, "With this new centralized animal control program, the Office of Animal Welfare can ensure animal control and enforcement services will be provided in a consistent and sustainable manner, to the benefit of all Delawareans and their pets."

To report animal cruelty or suspected rabies, call 302-255-4646 or email

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.

Last Updated: Thursday September 17 2015
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