The State of Delaware passed the Companion Animal Protection Act in 2010, recommended by No Kill Advocacy Center founder Nathan Winograd and now under consideration in many other jurisdictions, and it has been horrible legislation for the taxpayers and for the animals of our state.
We are a small state that has a population of around 900,000 people, but this legislation still had a significant impact. Here are just some of the highlights of the costs we’ve seen:
• A new office had to be created under public health to clean up the mess that was created by CAPA at a cost of $700,000.
• Per public health, the cost of dog control contracts across the state have increased from
$2.37 million to $3.2 million for a total increase of $830,000.
• At the same time as the costs increased, services have gone down.
• Less hours.
• Shelters no longer handle livestock at large situations, leaving residents handling sometimes dangerous situations on their own.
• Shelters no longer handle cruelty cases in many cases.
• Shelter intake of cats only occurs if a spot opens up, so cat intake rarely happens, even if it is sickly or severely injured cat because of the “irremediably suffering” clause in CAPA that has cost shelters in personnel and attorney costs due to the continual complaints questioning the disposition of individual animals.
• The Kent County SPCA shelter, now known as First State Animal Center, was handling dog control for all three of our counties when CAPA went into effect and faced a financial deficit of $450,000 the first year under CAPA.
• Due to the drama that was created under CAPA, my county of Kent awarded the dog control to a “No-Kill” shelter called Safe Haven that went bankrupt within 18 months and left a slew of businesses with debts in the process, not to mention some horrific conditions for the animals.
• Another shelter, Delaware SPCA, which has been in operation for 140 years is also teetering due to the financial costs of CAPA and becoming “No-Kill”.
Delaware SPCA deficits since No-Kill Effort Began in 2008
Losses going down by taking less animals each year.
2012 ($4,782) *
*(this loss was lowered by the investment returns of $200-300,000 more than previous years, so the shelter was fortunate there was a booming stock market)
• We also have residents that are dealing with large numbers of cats on their properties as a result. Some as many as 30+ cats.
• Within the first months of CAPA, the state was dealing with CAPA complants on a regular basis, including one where a dog was released to a rescue as required under CAPA and 40 days later was found on the streets “emaciated, with multiple bites of unknown origin, possible bait dog.” See these “before” and “after” photos:
I just ask that you consider what has happened in Delaware before you consider passing CAPA.
CAPA is costly, it results in more cruelty by leaving animals on the streets to suffer, and it will affect the quality of life for your residents and their pets.
––J Jacob Carter
Kent County, Delaware
“CAPA should be repealed”
Almost a year before the Safe Haven debacle, I pointed out in public comment to our state animal welfare task force that the 2010 passage of the Delaware Companion Animal Protection Act was likely to bring such a setback.
I testified from a personal standpoint, not to express the official opinion of the State of Delaware or the Department of Agriculture. My concerns are still timely. As a Delaware taxpayer and Spay/Neuter Coordinator for the Delaware Department of Agriculture, I am appalled at the waste of resources that have been expended as result of CAPA, both by the Department of Agriculture and by the Attorney General’s office. CAPA requirements, introduced without funding for additional staff, have added to the workloads of many people, to implement a law that we have all known was unenforceable from the start, with the result that we are less able to implement laws that can be enforced.
I understand that the CAPA shelter standards were well-intentioned, but even with the best of record keeping, a shelter’s choice to euthanize an animal will never be clear-cut. There will always be one person who says an animal was aggressive, and another who says otherwise.
And there will always be someone who claims to have taken a healthy animal into a shelter, and that it is not possible that the animal was so sick as to require euthanasia, but the animal may have been severely ill due to unrecognized symptoms. Since most complaints about inappropriate euthanasia will be based on hearsay, CAPA will continue to waste state resources even if enforcement is adequately funded.
Obviously I support the Delaware spay/neuter program. There should be no doubt that this is the front line in the battle to end pet overpopulation.
To help us make more rapid progress, the shelter standards imposed by CAPA should be repealed, so that we can again have open-access shelters serving homeless former pet cats and owner surrendered dogs should not be turned away and be subject to being dumped on our streets or the dangers of free Craigslist ads.
Random inspections enforcing appropriate health and safety standards should replace CAPA, and should be applied to all shelters and rescues housing animals.
Additional funding should be provided to allow expansion of the spay/neuter program, as the program transitions to the new Office of Animal Welfare, since the program has been operating at a substantial deficit and will be negatively impacted once the funds that built up prior to the program launch have been depleted. Participating nonprofit organizations should renew their commitment to ensuring that all animals are spayed or neutered before adoption, as required by law.