The First State Animal Center and SPCA has deep roots in our county and a long history of strong volunteer involvement. It is these caring volunteers, along with a dedicated professional staff, who have made our shelter the strong, effective organization it is today.
The FSAC & SPCA and SPCA marked its beginning in Delaware as far back as 1953 as the Kent County SPCA. Despite a series of starts and stumbles, in November 1963 a meeting of about 70 people formed the first well-organized group. They elected Pattie Rau as president and Jean Bradford vice-president. Throughout the period from 1953 to 1963 Jeanetta Irwin provided the perseverance that ultimately brought the organization together. Jeanetta served as shelter manager from its beginnings until her retirement in 1976.
The shelter incorporated in June of 1964 and signed its first contract with the Delaware Game and Fish Commission. The City of Dover donated the Horse Pond Road property where the original shelter was located. The early facility consisted of four concrete kennels that each had one side open to the weather. There were no facilities for felines, so Dr. Spence provided space to care for stray found and relinquished cats.
In 1964 the State of Delaware, under the leadership of Senator James McGinnis, approved a $5,000 grant to the Kent County SPCA for new construction. With these funds, and serious work by volunteers to secure donated materials, a new building was completed in August of 1965. The new building gave the SPCA space for cats and they were moved from Dr. Spence's.
In 1966, Mr. Capaldi donated two small buildings to the SPCA. These buildings were moved to the Horse Pond Road site, providing separate space to handle puppies.
During this same period the Kent County SPCA was struggling just to keep the shelter open. With the help of Dr. Lorin Sebrell, the organization was revitalized. Colonel Bill Richardson was elected president and under his leadership many improvements were made, including a trailer for office space, a security fence and many improvements to the kennels.
Since 1967 the SPCA has maintained a full and active board and has continued to grow and make improvements to the facilities and the services provided to the community. In 1994 the Kent County SPCA was awarded the contract by the State to provide Animal Control Officers for the County, bringing responsibility for animal control and care under one umbrella. This has led to a significant improvement in service and a major reduction in citizen complaints about non-responsiveness to calls for assistance.
The Board of the Kent County SPCA recognized that we would eventually need to enlarge the facilities and began placing all special event fund raising proceeds in a capital improvement fund for that sole purpose. This fund has provided the seed money to purchase a new and better-located property and to draw plans for a modern facility to serve Kent County now and well into the future.
This $2 million+ facility was opened to the public in July 2001. The facility has doubled its housing for canines and felines looking for homes, separate isolation and quarantine rooms, a full medical and radiology suite, and housing for large farm animals.
In July of 2005, The Kent County SPCA was awarded the Animal Control contract for the whole state of Delaware.
In 2013, the Kent County SPCA was officially renamed the First State Animal Center and SPCA, in recognition of its statewide animal welfare focus and to help the public easily identify the full suite of services the organization provides Delaware's pets and the people who care for them
The First State Animal Center and SPCA Board of Trustees and Staff members look forward to providing superior service from a centrally-located facility that can be easily expanded as Delaware's population and the needs of its residents continues to grow.