NEW CASTLE — The first Intensive Care Unit for shelter animals in Delaware will be opening in New Castle in the spring.
The Brandywine Valley SPCA celebrated the groundbreaking for its new center on Tuesday afternoon. It will become the region’s largest and most comprehensive animal welfare facility.
The BVSPCA is not just an adoption resource, but an organization that cares for the wellbeing of all animals in its community. It bought the former veterinary clinic late last year and will be able to double its surgery capacity for spay, neuter, and specialty surgeries, as well as for seeing pet patients for routine wellness and sick visits.
The ICU will also be available for pets needing critical care when families can’t afford private specialty hospital services.
Chief marketing officer Linda Torelli said many families are struggling to find veterinary care, but the SPCA is a great place to look.
“Right now we actually have a lower wait time than other clinics to get in for appointments,” she said. “We’re going to be doubling our clinic space here and we’re going to be doubling our spay and neuter space, so come spring, folks are going to have a lot more resources at a really affordable price.”
The BVSPCA works closely with Tangipahoa Parish Animal Services in Louisiana, implementing life-saving programs that have transformed their live release rate from 20 percent to 90 percent by the end of the year. Many animals from that area have already been brought to Delaware, including a swarm rescued ahead of Hurricane Ida in September.
“We are lucky here in the Northeast that spay and neuter is stemming the influx of animals quite a bit and adoption is becoming very popular,” said Ms. Torelli. “But there are animals all over the country that are being euthanized, highly adoptable puppies and kittens that really just need to be in another community to find a home.”
The new location at 290 Churchmans Road in New Castle will be named The Copeland Center for Animal Welfare to honor Tatiana Copeland, a longtime advocate for animals in need, who provided a “generous lead gift to make this center possible” and has also supported the BVSPCA’s Reggie’s Fund, to cover critical medical needs when families cannot afford it.
“We have adopted dogs for the last 30 years from shelters and given them a loving home but that’s nothing compared to the love they give back,” Ms. Copeland said.
The center will expand community engagement opportunities with nearly 20,000 square feet, including the existing 12,268 square foot facility and an additional 7,658 square feet of state-of-the-art space for shelter animals currently under construction. Hailey Marcus, director of community engagement, said the center runs a summer “critter camp” for kids to learn about animal sheltering and education, hosts birthday parties and groups and organization events which will now be held in the new community room.
“The space that we have currently is very small,” Ms. Marcus said. “It was always a challenge to do that humane education in that space. We’re excited about being here because we have more outdoor space for the kids to run because they really enjoy that and they love our field days too.”
The BVSPCA has invested more than $5 million from private donations and grants in its infrastructure in Delaware, resulting in a shelter and veterinary clinic in each county. The BVSPCA cares for more than 9,000 animals annually in Delaware, which amounts to more than 60% of the shelter animal intake in the state. The BVSPCA has raised $3.5 million in private donations and foundations so far for the new facility, which is estimated at $7 million in total cost.
“There is nothing more important than the bond between a family member and a dog or a cat or other animals,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long. “We have a wonderful, unique opportunity by expanding the services that are here today. I have seen the impact of pet therapy on persons struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. I have seen the impact on depression and anxiety and I’ve seen the impact on humanity.”
County Executive Matt Meyer said that among several focus groups with people who are homeless, time and again, many asked for a place to bring their animals.
“Animal health is also about human mental health,” he said. “We really appreciate the work that the SPCA has done partnering with the county and the state. They are really leading the nation in terms of making sure that animal welfare is taken care of and hoping that across this nation we can one day say, we are a no kill nation.”