Brandywine Valley SPCA bringing Kent facility back to life

DOVER — A major facelift is under way at 1757 Horsepond Road in Dover.

That’s where the Brandywine Valley SPCA is in the process of transforming the former and long-abandoned Kent County SPCA facility into a full-service Pet Resource Center.

The group had planned on opening its Kent County Campus last November. However, officials with the organization decided to expand plans for services to bring its newest SPCA up to the level of its Pet Resource Centers in New Castle and Georgetown.

That will give Delaware pet owners options for the same level of animal services in all three counties.

For now, workers from Chatham Bay Construction Services in Wilmington are working diligently to resurrect the main white-painted 1,800-square-foot building that sits on two acres in a wooded area off Horsepond Road.

Once bustling with activity from 1964 until 2001, the former Kent County SPCA building — with several kennels located behind it — served as that organization’s longtime home. Then it moved to a more modern facility in Wyoming 17 years ago and eventually became the First State Animal Center and SPCA.

The property in Dover has sat virtually untouched ever since.

A worker with Chatham Bay Construction said the building was filled with black snakes, squirrels and other animals when they began work on the reconstruction of the facility. He said he expects the construction work to continue until about mid-summer.

“We’ve actually decided to expand the operation at our upcoming Kent Campus a little bit,” said Linda Torelli, director of marketing for the Brandywine Valley SPCA. “It’s going to be a full-fledged campus. This will give the Brandywine Valley SPCA full-service campuses in each county, which we are very excited about.”

Once open, the Brandywine Valley SCPA Kent Campus in Dover will provide such services as:

• Adoptions of cats and dogs

• Low-cost veterinary services, such as preventive care, sick visits and spay/neuter

• Intake intervention programs, such as a pet food pantry and behavior counseling for owned pets

• Humane education initiatives, such as Critter Camp, a summer day camp for kids

• Stray dog holding as part of the BVSPCA contract with the Delaware Office of Animal Welfare (OAW) to provide statewide animal services

For now, the BVSPCA property off Horsepond Road is home to around five dogs who were lost and have been found in Kent County.

Kennels restored

The facility’s 10 holding kennels have been restored and have both indoor and outdoor cages, as well as a play area for the dogs, who were inside on a chilly Monday afternoon.

“Work on the Kent Campus property has so far been focused on the dog area,” Ms. Torelli said.

“Actually, we have brought in some stray dogs from around Kent County that are there at the facility right now. We also have play yards set up for them, so they’ve got an area to go outside.

“We’ve got someone there every day. They make sure the dogs are getting fed, getting exercise and are in good health. Anybody who has lost a dog in Kent County can go there now and reclaim them if they find them there.”

A $500,000 grant presented by the Petco Foundation last July helped the BVSPCA bring back animal activity to Horsepond Road.

Ms. Torelli said that generous seed funding from Petco Foundation helped secure the facility. She said the BVSCPA still needs assistance with the renovation and fit-out costs to the main building. The public can make donations online at https://bvspca.org/adopt/kent/.

Last July, Adam Lamb, CEO of the BVSCPA, said he cannot wait to get started with the new Pet Resource Center in Kent County. He said it is something that Dover-area residents are in desperate need of.

Offering ‘intake intervention’

“We’ll be offering intake intervention, which would mean if an owner wants to surrender their pet, they would be able to come to the facility and meet with a staff member who would try to find them resources to keep their animal,” said Mr. Lamb. “If they aren’t able to keep it, then we would be able to take that animal in and make sure that we’re able to place it in a forever home.

“We’ll also provide low-cost pet services, which would be spay and neuter services or low-cost vaccines, and general practice work, which there is a lack of that here in this community, so we feel like that is attributing to the amount of animals that are being surrendered into shelters.”

He added, “Then we’ll also have the housing piece for the stray animals that are coming from Kent County. They’ll be housed in the location so that their owners can come and reclaim them.”

The Pet Resource Center will also feature a pet food pantry and offer behavior counseling for owned pets, as well as humane education initiatives, such as Critter Camp, which is a summer day camp for kids.

However, Critter Camp won’t be available for the Kent County Campus this year since it’s not sure when it will be able to officially open all its services.

Mr. Lamb said stray cats won’t be forgotten about, either.

“We love cats,” he said. “We just worked on legislative work to help impact the life of a cat here in Delaware, which we’re really excited about. We have a program statewide that does TNR (trap-neuter-return) Return to Field program for cats, so it’s a big focus for us.

“Among the animal population across the nation the animals that are dying in shelters is usually the feline population.”

As for bringing the former Kent County SPCA building back to life, Mr. Lamb said its’ history has been a help toward reaching to the future.

‘Today’s expectations’

“It was already a shelter facility, so it was fantastic for us to go in and bring it back to today’s expectations of a shelter,” he said. “It was pretty run down, and they’ve already demolished everything and started the framing. It’s definitely going to be a project, but that’s why this $500,000 is going to be able to help us do that.”

While the black snakes, squirrels and other animals that had been living in the BVSPCA’s Kent Campus now have to find homes elsewhere, other domesticated animals such as cats and dogs will have a new place for them.

“It’s been a long time coming and the building on Horsepond Road was not in great shape,” Ms. Torelli said. “There was a lot of work that needed to be done and still needs to be done before we can fully expect to open it up. I will say one thing about the building, it’s got good bones and strong shoulders after being vacant for so long.

“It will be great for both the BVSCPA and Kent County to add a third Pet Resource Center in Kent County to the state of Delaware.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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