Decommissioned crematorium reflects SPCA’s lifesaving impact

Walt Fenstermacher pauses momentarily after removing the pipe from the decommissioned crematorium. (Submitted photo)

GEORGETOWN — A grisly reminder of animal euthanasia is a thing of the past at the Georgetown campus of Brandywine Valley Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Amid playful puppies, children, staff and volunteers, the Brandywine SPCA ceremoniously decommissioned the campus crematorium Thursday.

“This was here from the previous organization that had this building that we took over last July,” said Maggie Lyon, Brandywine Valley SPCA’s statewide director of development.

The decommissioning reflects the lifesaving impact the SPCA has made in Sussex County since taking responsibility for lost dogs in late 2015. The group acquired the Georgetown shelter off DuPont Boulevard in July 2017.

“We’re really trying to start turning a new chapter to turn what once was an over-crowded shelter into a modern-day facility,” said Walt Fenstermacher, the group’s director of operations for Georgetown. “We believe that the space that used to house the crematorium can be better used and better purposed for a community center to really help educate the children that are going to be the next generation of pet parents, so that they know what responsible pet ownership looks like and that they know that the Brandywine Valley SPCA is going to be here for them at the start when they are children and when they are ready to adopt.”

Mr. Fenstermacher had the task of disconnecting the crematorium’s gas line “so that machine can never be used again …”

In addition to education and training, the converted space will house special events, such as the shelter’s birthday party program and its week-long summer Critter Camp.

“The community center in part houses and facilitates our week-long summer camp for kids. They interact with shelter pets and learn what value shelters bring to the community,” said Mr. Fenstermacher. “Then, we also educate them about responsible pet ownership: spay, neuter, vaccination. And we bring in guest speakers from different fields, whether it is a trainer or a veterinarian and make it as much fun as we can for the kids. They really enjoy it.”

In 2017, Brandywine Valley SPCA statewide achieved more than 13,000 placements, mostly cat and dogs.

The group also has a campus in New Castle, an everyday adoption center in Dover, a cat adoption center at the Rehoboth Pet Smart and an everyday adoption center for cats and dogs at Pet Smart in Dover.

There are other ongoing upgrades at the Georgetown campus, including expansion of the low-cost veterinary clinic and improvements to the cat housing.
The decommissioned crematorium will be removed by professionals. “We’re allowing them to scrap or re-purpose it,” Mr. Fenstermacher said. “We didn’t have any use for it. We’re just happy to get rid of it.”

To contact the Brandywine Valley SPCA Georgetown campus, call 516-1004.

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