County begins new chapter for animal services
Government-run department opens doors
— 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
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.