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Sussex Countian
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  • Kent County citizens vent frustrations over Safe Haven dog control issues

  • Dog control wasn't even on the agenda, but was the reason several people came to the Kent County Levy Court meeting held Tuesday night in Dover.
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  • Dog control wasn’t even on the agenda, but was the reason several people came to the Kent County Levy Court meeting held Tuesday night in Dover.
    Remarks on the subject came during the public comment session at the end of the 70-minute meeting, which had an uncharacteristically late start.
    Levy Court President P. Brooks Banta, known for gaveling in the meetings at “7 p.m., sharp” was delayed three minutes by the late arrival of Vice President Brad Eby. The delay was the subject of good-natured ribbing among the commissioners and audience, with Banta noting it was the first time he had ever started a meeting after 7 o’clock.
    Eby’s presence was needed because commissioners Allan Angel, Glenn Howell and Eric Buckson were unable to attend, and a fourth person was needed on the seven-member panel to enable it to do business.
    The discussion on dog control came on the heels of a statement by the Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary that it had deferred its previously announced Aug. 30 closing. Commissioners learned of the delay just before the start of the evening’s session.
    Levy Court signed a one-year contract with Safe Haven on July 1, turning down what it considered a more expensive contract with the Kent County SPCA for the same services.
    Support for both animal control agencies has been vocal and sometimes acrimonious. Safe Haven has been accused of overcrowded conditions and financial mismanagement, while officials at the SPCA have been accused of using emails and social media to ostracize their critics.
    Charles Wolfe of Dover told commissioners he considered Safe Haven’s actions, particularly its on-again, off-again statements about whether it can keep its doors open, “outrageous.”
    “It just seems like a horrible mess of a situation, and the dogs are caught in the middle,” Wolfe said.
    Commissioners also heard from Cathy Samardza of Hartly, who claims SPCA director Kevin Usilton has attempted to ban her and others from the shelter’s property.
    Samardza accused shelter leadership of “arrogance, bullying and unprofessional and spiteful behavior.”
    “The biggest thing is they refuse to be accountable to anyone,” she said. “Their behavior indicates as much a problem with leadership as Safe Haven’s problems do.”
    Because they were made during the meeting’s public comments session, commissioners did not reply to the remarks.
    On an unrelated note, Banta appointed County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange to represent Levy Court to coordinate with New Castle and Sussex counties on a state-mandated dog control panel. The panel, which apparently has been inactive for some time, is tasked with hearing cases regarding dangerous or harmful canines.
    Page 2 of 2 - In other actions, commissioners set a public hearing for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 20, to hear comments for or against a plan to authorize up to $325,000 in additional debt for the East Dover Wastewater Construction Project.
    The hearing will be held in Levy Court chambers at 555 Bay Road, Dover.

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