County be­gins new chap­ter for an­i­mal ser­vices

Gov­ern­ment-run depart­ment opens doors

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By CH­ERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— At noon Fri­day, a new chap­ter opened for an­i­mal ser­vices in Ce­cil County, with hopes of re­vers­ing sev­eral years of strong, vo­cal public opin­ions on both sides about the two pre­vi­ous pri­vately-con­tracted ser­vice providers.

Ce­cil County gov­ern­ment took over qui­etly Fri­day with lit­tle fan­fare when

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

they opened the doors at 3280 Au­gus­tine Her­man High­way, the for­mer home to SPCA of Ce­cil County, with a new staff in place and 10 dogs look­ing for new homes.

Ce­cil County Di­rec­tor of An­i­mal Ser­vices Abigail Bingham was bub­bling over with en­thu­si­asm.

“I was so ex­cited last night that I barely slept,” she said. “Ev­ery­one has been so wel­com­ing. It’s been a great col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort so far — very heart­warm­ing and en­dear­ing.”

Nine of the dogs at the fa­cil­ity on Fri­day were trans- fers from A Buddy for Life, the county’s for­mer an­i­mal con­trol ven­dor whose con­tract ex­pired June 30. A Buddy for Life didn’t trans­fer any cats.

“A good Sa­mar­i­tan brought a dog into us this morn­ing that he found near French­town Road, bring­ing our first day to­tal to 10 dogs,” Bingham said.

But by mid-af­ter­noon Fri­day, two an­i­mal res­cues near Baltimore were ready to take three dogs — Huey, Dewey and Louie — from

the new county-owned fa­cil­ity.

“This is so ex­cit­ing,” Bingham said. “This is ex­actly what we want to hap­pen.”

She de­scribed the night be­fore when the dogs ar­rived as a well-or­ches­trated rit­ual.

“They came in about 7 p.m., we gave them a bed, blan­ket and din­ner and then calm time and it worked,” she said.

The in­te­rior lay­out of the fa­cil­ity re­mains nearly the same as it was un­der the SPCA. One dif­fer­ence is a new wall that that was added be­tween the cat hold­ing ar­eas and the dog ken­nels to help re­duce anx­i­ety for the cats by re­duc­ing the sound of dogs bark­ing.

The en­tire fa­cil­ity has been cleaned with the as­sis­tance of some in­mates from the Ce­cil County De­ten­tion Cen­ter. It has also been painted through­out in cheer­ful, bright col­ors.

Bingham still has to put fin­ish­ing touches on the place, in­clud­ing wall dé­cor and of­fice set- ups. She hopes to di­vide the big cat room into smaller cat rooms to en­able her staff to pro­vide bet­ter care and mon­i­tor­ing of the cats. Cats and dogs are also able to go out­side for fresh air and ex­er­cise.

The fa­cil­ity also has a “real life” room, where po­ten­tial adoptees can visit in a home set­ting with fam­ily mem­bers, in­clud­ing other fam­ily pets. That room still awaits fur­ni­ture, but one fam­ily is ex­pected to re­turn over the week­end for a sec­ond look at one of the dogs to adopt.

The fa­cil­ity also has plenty of space for of­fices for staff and a con­fer­ence room for meet­ings and for vol­un­teers.

Bingham has al­ready hired two an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cers, two an­i­mal care at­ten­dants, one vet- tech and one vet­eri­nar­ian, an of­fice ser­vices as­sis­tant and a shel­ter su­per­vi­sor. Debo- rah Chase, who worked for the Delaware SPCA for the last two years, is the shel­ter su­per­vi­sor.

“We are striv­ing to ad­here to a no- kill phi­los­o­phy to serve the county’s cit­i­zens and an­i­mals and pro­mote and pro­tect the hu­man-an­i­mal bond,” Bingham said.

She looks for­ward to get­ting a strong group of vol­un­teers on board, not­ing about 20 peo­ple have al­ready asked for ap­pli­ca­tions. Bingham hopes to have the vol­un­teer group up and run­ning by the end of July.

The county is plan­ning a public open house some­time in Au­gust, but the date hasn’t been se­lected yet. Adop­tion fees for dogs is $ 65 and $ 40 for cats.

The shel­ter will be­gin adop­tion hours on Sun­days next week. Cit­i­zens can re­port a stray an­i­mal or sur­ren­der a pet by call­ing An­i­mal Ser­vices at 410441- 2040.

“Do not call emer­gency ser­vices or 911,” Bingham ad­vised.

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