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Delaware Humane Association, SPCA to merge

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Anne Cavanaugh of Delaware SPCA and Patrick J. Carroll of Delaware Humane Association pose with adoptable dogs. | PHOTO COURTESY OF DHA

Two of the state’s largest animal welfare organizations, the Delaware Humane Association (DHA) and Delaware SPCA, announced Tuesday that they plan to merge their operations.

The merger, already approved by both of the nonprofits’ boards, is expected to be completed by this fall. The organizations have not yet decided what its future combined name will be.

The Delaware SPCA, founded in 1873, is the state’s first animal shelter and one of the oldest animal welfare agencies in the country, while the DHA, founded in 1957, is a nonprofit animal care and adoption center. Both operate no-kill shelters and will continue to do so. They have already been collaborating for many years on animal transports, pet food pantry events, and sharing resources.

Officials said that operations will continue at each of the organizations’ current locations in Wilmington, Stanton/Newark, and Rehoboth Beach. During the transition period, both Delaware SPCA and DHA’s day-to-day operations, programs, and services will continue as normal, without interruption.

After the merger, DHA’s Executive Director, Patrick Carroll, will serve as CEO while Delaware SPCA’s Executive Director, Anne Cavanaugh, will serve as chief operating officer.

Left to right: Michele Ahwash (DHA Board President), Anne Cavanaugh (Delaware SPCA Executive Director), Patrick J. Carroll (DHA Executive Director), Kim Williams (Delaware SPCA Board President). | PHOTO COURTESY OF DHA

“I am incredibly honored to lead this combined organization, which, collectively, has served people and animals in Delaware for more than 200 years. We will bring together our strengths and resources and continue to do great things throughout the state and region,” Carroll said in a statement announcing the merger. “I look forward to working with Anne and the Delaware SPCA board and team to continue ‘giving a paw a hand’ and ‘making friends for life.’”

“We couldn’t be more excited to combine our experience and resources with the DHA team to continue our lifesaving work,” Cavanaugh added in a statement. “By coming together as equal partners offering complimentary services, we expect to multiply our collective impact, ultimately helping more animals and people in Delaware.”

The merged organization will bolster its standing in a market that also has similar high-profile organizations, such as the Faithful Friends Animal Society, Brandywine Valley SPCA and First State Animal Center and SPCA, operating in it. 

According to the organizations’ Fiscal Year 2019 tax returns, the most recent publicly available, both were operating at net losses. Together they would hold total assets of more than $13.5 million though and produce annual revenue of nearly $3 million.

The merger will result in a “greater ability to innovate, centralize, and reduce duplication of services; produce greater programmatic impact; and simplify access to services,” officials said.

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