Outside the Delaware SPCA joined by shelter representatives and dogs up for adoption, Governor Jack Markell signed into law today new first-of-their kind animal shelter standards for Delaware. The law puts Delaware in the forefront of shelter standards in the country by ensuring that shelters provide proper veterinary care to animals, take reasonable steps to increase the likelihood of animal adoption, and address euthanasia procedures and methods.
"Up until now, we have had no state standards of operation for animal shelters. Today, that changes, " said Governor Markell. "These standards put Delaware shelter regulations among the most comprehensive in the country, a legislative accomplishment we should all be proud of -- we did this together. This new law protects our shelters, our pets and the people who love them, pet owners."
All five animal shelters in the state-- Delaware SPCA, Kent County SPCA, Delaware Humane Association, Faithful Friends and Safe Havens Shelter - support the new standards. Representatives from each shelter attended the bill signing today.
Senate Majority Leader Patricia Blevins (D-Elsmere), the primary sponsor of the legislation, said the law was drafted to ensure uniform standards for shelters, previously unregulated. Representative Melanie George (D- Newark) led the effort in the House.
"Before today, anyone could say they're a shelter," Blevins said. "Now, they will have to meet standards for humane care and treatment of animals. This is something that was supported by our animal shelters and it is something that should give animal lovers some peace of mind."
The new law requires that shelters vaccinate an animal within 8 hours of entry; provide an exam within 72 hours of entry; improves online lost and found capabilities; ensures that properly trained individuals provide veterinary care; reduces the number of animals that are brought to our shelters for adoption from out of state shelters; and establishes requirements for vet care to make shelters more willing to adopt from one another without fear of significant treatment costs.
The Delaware Department of Agriculture will handle regulation enforcement.