Delaware's latest First State title: Only no-kill state for shelter animals

Marina Affo

WILMINGTON, Del. — Gillian Barthe was going through a rough time a couple of years ago.

"The dogs are really honestly what got me through that rough time," said the commercial credit analyst.. 

The mom of two humans and six animals says her three dogs, Phoebe, Alex and Bear offer unconditional love. 

"They're always there for you. They always want to be with you. They're sweet and they're caring." 

Barthe, 49, also has three cats, Hennessy, Molly and Loki. Five of her animals she got from the Brandywine Valley SPCA and one she got from the Delaware Humane Association. 

"High-fiving cats" The next animal empowerment movement

Enthusiasm for saving animals like hers is one reason Delaware became the country's only no-kill state in July. 

The designation came from the Best Friends Animal Society at its annual conference. The nonprofit tracks kill shelters throughout the country and hopes to have all states be no-kill by 2025. Delaware is the first to reach this status. 

This is due in large part to no-kill shelter Brandywine Valley SPCA, said its director of marketing Linda Torelli. 

The shelter takes in 60 percent of the state's homeless animals and finds them homes. It also works with the state's animal control to take any cats and dogs it picks up. 

'Storm our shelter' Oklahoma animal shelter uses Area 51 craze to its advantage

The shelter has been tracking cat and dog euthanizations throughout the state for the last few years, and realized last fall that the state had reached a no-kill status. However, the official designation came at the BFAS annual conference this year. 

She credits the state's culture of dog and cat adoption, along with policy measures and the economic stability needed for animal adoption.

Delaware is far ahead of other states, regardless of their size, she said. The amount of money spent on animals has grown, too, she said. 

Although she wouldn't provide an exact budget, the shelter's budget has grown in the last five years, she said. Tax filings from 2017 show the total revenue for the shelter was just over $7.5 million from grants and community support. 

Follow Marina Affo on Twitter at @marina_affo.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware officially nation's first no-kill state for shelter animals