A troubling situation developed in Delaware yesterday and more information is needed. I am asking for help from readers if they come across any additional media reports or press releases from relevant parties regarding this story today.
The scattered facts, as I understand them:
Delaware has a law called the Companion Animal Protection Act (CAPA) which requires shelters to give at least 2 business days’ notice to rescuers before killing any healthy/treatable animal.
The Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary in Delaware was set to close on November 30. I do not know the reason why. They previously held an animal control contract but recently lost it. Safe Haven reportedly asked the ASPCA last month to help shut down the shelter in an orderly manner and ASPCA agreed.
Suddenly yesterday, the closing of Safe Haven got moved up – to yesterday. I do not know the reason why.
Safe Haven reportedly posted a comment on its Facebook page last night about what may be the unlawful killing of dogs there:
“Some dogs, due to severe behavior issues, were such a threat to other animals or humans, that they were unsuitable for adoption,” the statement said. “Some dogs were humanely euthanized.”
The Safe Haven Facebook page has since been deleted.
The News Journal also reports:
It’s not clear how many dogs remained at Safe Haven until this week, because the shelter did not post intake statistics on its website for the third quarter of 2013, which the state’s Companion Animal Protection Act mandates shelters do.
The law also requires shelters to maintain “a registry of organizations willing to accept animals for the purpose of adoption,” and are not supposed to euthanize any animal if organizations on the registry are willing to accept it.
[Former Safe Haven volunteer Karli] Swope said rescue groups she is familiar with had not received notices from Safe Haven indicating it was considering euthanizing any of its dogs.
The Sussex Countian spoke with several area rescuers who showed up at Safe Haven yesterday to pull dogs. They claim Safe Haven officials had given them permission to come to the facility and save dogs. But when they arrived, they found the ASPCA’s giant truck and a hostile environment:
However these people were turned away by the ASPCA, who eventually called the Delaware State Police and reported the prospective adopters were trespassing on private property.
Speculations surrounding whether the ASPCA was euthanizing the remaining dogs onsite were discounted by Capt. Sean Moriarty of DSP Troop 4 in Georgetown. Moriarty said he saw the dogs inside a large ASPCA truck, and they were all alive.
“I’m not sure exactly where they’re going; mostly out of state. Some are going to a facility in the state, but we don’t know where,” Moriarty said on Thursday at Safe Haven.
There were an unknown number of dogs, possibly 20, at Safe Haven at the time ASPCA locked the doors and called police to keep rescuers out. I haven’t seen any reports indicating what ASPCA did with the dogs.
I am not an attorney but it appears to me that possibly both Safe Haven and the ASPCA may have violated Delaware’s CAPA law in the handling of dogs at the facility. I hope some clarifications and additional facts come to light today and that the remaining dogs are safe. I further hope the appropriate authorities will investigate to determine if Safe Haven and/or the ASPCA should be charged with violations of Delaware’s CAPA law.
(Thanks Karen for alerting me to this story.)