Pet Adoption in Delaware: An Impressive State of Generosity 

Delaware was the first state in the US to establish the so-called “No Kill” laws for animal shelters. According to Delaware Public Media, to be considered no-kill, a shelter or rescue has to have at least a 90% placement rate for the animals in their care. 

The 2010 Delaware Shelter Standards Law was written to ensure shelters follow certain practices and procedures to protect shelter animal health and promote adoption – with the Office of Animal Welfare created about 3 years later to enforce it. 

Other states followed suit, and national statistics have shown that having these benchmark standards is working. There are, of course, occasions of humane euthanizing in cases of severe behavioral or medical issues, but there is no doubt that the benchmark of at 90% placement has increased adoption rates and community awareness. 

Delmarva has several animal rescue organizations that promote the value of adoption. In Sussex County alone, there are two shelters and a few breed-specific rescues, such as Greyhound Pet Adoptions in Bethany Beach. 

The most widely recognized local animal shelters are the Humane Animal Partners (HAP) in Rehoboth, and Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSPCA) located in Georgetown. 

Humane Animal Partners was established in 2022 when Delaware Humane Association and Delaware SPCA merged. Not only does it serve as an adoption site, but it also provides veterinary wellness clinics, low-cost spaying and neutering (a requirement for all adoptions), off-site clinics and vaccinations and free pet food for those unable to afford it.  

Adoption fees  at HAP for cats range from $50 for a senior cat (8 years plus) to $110 for a kitten. Dog adoptions range from $100 for a senior dog to $475 for most puppies (under 1 year). All adoption rates include appropriate veterinary care, vaccinations, tick and flea protection and microchipping (for locating a lost pet). 

HAP also advocates for fostering animals until a suitable home is found, and welcome volunteers and visitors. Donations are necessary, of course, whether monetary or with gently used pet gear such as carriers and leashes. 

Brandywine Valley SPCA (BVSPCA) of Georgetown is one of three shelters in Delaware affiliated with the original BVSPCA in Pennsylvania, presumably stirred by Delaware’s “no kill” regulations. 

BVSPCA has adoption fees similar to those of HAP, although there is an added bonus for Seniors and Military Veterans. Adults 65-plus can adopt senior cats and dogs (8 years old) free of charge. Veterans can also adopt a pet at least one year old for free. This program was developed thanks to a generous donor. 

BVSPCA also has its Second Chance program, which helps other shelters throughout the country by alleviating overcrowding, or responding to a natural disaster, such as flooding or a hurricane. According to their website, BVSPCA helps to place more than 7,000  animals every year. They also have helped a shelter in rural Louisiana promote adoption and neutering, increase its revenue and drastically improve its placement rate from an astoundingly low 22% to 90%. 

All of the local animal rescues I’ve researched are nonprofits, and some are entirely staffed by volunteers. So if adoption is not what you can consider, perhaps you can volunteer or donate to the welfare of our beloved pets. 

Best of all, I learned another interesting tidbit about Delaware. Our “State Dog,” not surprisingly, is the Rescue Dog. 

By Bridget FitzPatrick 

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