I guess I'm rambling today by posting twice, but I wanted to keep the 2 subjects separate. We've made it through the 1st week of the transition to a new animal control vendor in Kent County, Delaware, but the expected chaos has ensued. It was expected that there would be issues due to the various overlapping of state codes, but the heat wave we are currently experiencing has escalated the discussion about what is expected of shelters that aren't paid for services.
Humane Care vs. Cruelty
In Delaware, each county is responsible for laws under Title 9, including dog control codes which includes items like dogs at large, how long a tether needs to be, to providing shelter from the sun. Title 11 includes animal cruelty statutes.
So if a shelter has authorization under both statutes, the jurisdiction is a simple matter. During a heat wave, animal control could go to a home where a dog is reported to be out in the heat for too long and issue a warning to the resident and monitor that the dog is provided the protection outlined under Title 9 (below). If they responded to that call and the dog was to the point of "pain and suffering" as outlined in Title 11, they could call in the police, get a warrant to take the dog, and the police could charge the resident for cruelty.
As a result of the costs associated with CAPA and the hostile atmosphere in animal welfare here, there are separate entities providing enforcement under these 2 codes in my county. Kent County SPCA no longer has authoritiy under Title 9, since that authority is granted under the dog control contract by the county. That contract was awarded to Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary as of July 1. They currently show a lost dogs page where 8 dogs are posted so far. Based on various discussions currently taking place online (I will link to them at the bottom), there is no indication that Safe Haven is responding to complaints under Title 9 complaints about animals that might be in danger due to the heat. So while Kent County SPCA is authorized to pursue charges under the cruelty statute, the case has to reach the point of neglect required under the Title 11 statute. Needless to say, the county now wants every case of dogs without shelter from the heat to be considered cruelty, so the cost of responding would be on the shelters dime and not the county's. The irony of that argument is that last month the same county commissioner was claiming that the KCSPCA was overstepping their authority, and did not want to contract them in part for that reason.
Title 9 - Counties - Chapter 9 Dog Control
(Safe Haven is the current vendor for Kent County, contract believed to be $830,000 a year)
§ 904. Specifications for the humane handling, care and treatment of dogs.
(3) Shelter from sunlight. -- In addition to the shelter structure, 1 or more separate outside areas of shade shall be provided to allow the dogs to protect themselves when sunlight is likely to cause overheating or discomfort.
Title 11 - Criminal Code - Cruelty To Animals
(Kent County SPCA & Delawrare SPCA are authorized by state to investigate - Unpaid)
§ 1325. Cruelty to animals; class A misdemeanor; class F felony.
(5) "Cruel neglect" includes neglect of an animal, which is under the care and control of the neglector, whereby pain or suffering is caused to the animal or abandonment of any domesticated animal by its owner or custodian. By way of example, cruel neglect shall also include allowing an animal to live in unsanitary conditions, such as keeping an animal where the animal's own excrement is not removed from the animal's living area and/or other living conditions which are injurious to the animal's health.
(6) "Cruelty to animals" includes mistreatment of any animal or neglect of any animal under the care and control of the neglector, whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain or suffering is caused. By way of example this includes: Unjustifiable beating of an animal; overworking an animal; tormenting an animal; abandonment of an animal; failure to feed properly or give proper shelter or veterinary care to an animal.
Are You Thoroughly Confused? - Welcome Our Post CAPA World!
I thought it would be helpful to provide a graphical representation of which shelters handle Title 9 dog control contracts to show just how insane our world is. Currently not one shelter is located in the jurisdiction they handle dog control contracts for. Those contracts are paid by the counties and the city of Wilmington. Kent County SPCA and Delaware SPCA also handle cruelty investigations, but receive don't receive payment for those services from any level of government. The cruelty investigations are entirely paid for by donations to the shelters, which needless to say are a limited resource.
|Shelters Handling Title 9 Enforcement - Dog Control & Humane Care|
For those that want to follow the chaos in progress, here are some links to those discussions.
- Delaware State News Forum - 22 pages of comments to date - includes comments from Commissioner Sweeney
- KCSPCA Facebook Page
- What Really Happened With The SPCA- Commissioner Sweeney's Re-Election Site
- Kent County Levy Court Points Finger At KCSPCA - KCSPCA Email Response
- You Decide - Commissioner Sweeney's Re-Election Site
The last of the links goes to the issue discussed at the top of the page. The county commission wanted KCSPCA to provide a clear cut accounting of time and money spent under their contract. Now they've had the opportunity to see that short of documenting every minute which would create more costs, many cases fall under both statutes. Despite the commissioners claim below, that has always been the case.
"You Decide: Who is the first agency that should respond to cruelty? In the past, it has been the SPCA under Title 11, calling on the County when violations of Title 9 occurred. With a new Vendor for Kent County Levy Court’s enforcement of Title 9, should this position have changed?" - Jody Sweeney Campaign SiteThe logical argument is that lack of shelter from heat first causes "discomfort", and later leads to "pain and suffering". According to our commissioner, there appears to be a belief that a dog will first suffer from heatstroke and then miraculously downgrade to discomfort. It's like saying a homicide division is responsible for a murder when the rookie patrolling officer doesn't respond to an assault complaint before the victim is dead. It just doesn't make sense.
The tragedy is that animals in Delaware will die due to the "no-kill" agenda that brought us CAPA. To call CAPA "shelter standards" under these circumstances is utterly insane.