As the state searches for candidates to fill positions at its new Office of Animal Welfare, there have been a couple of changes to the original job posting.

On the state's official website, the job was posted on Aug. 17, the initial closing date was Aug. 23 and the job's location was Dover. However, yesterday the job posting changed, extending the closing date a week and the location moved from Dover to New Castle County, facility to be determined.

Delaware's Office of Management and Budget Director of Policy and External Affairs Bert Scoglietti says the changes are the result of an error in the original posting. Scoglietti says the job was supposed to be listed in New Castle County, but it was mistakenly posted in Dover. As a result of that error, Scoglietti says the state decided to extend the position for another week.

As for all of the applicants who had applied under the original posting, Scoglietti says the state contacted them to make sure they knew the job would be based in New Castle County.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Those interested in applying for the executive director position of the state's new Office of Animal Welfare have four more days to submit their applications.

According to the state's official website, the position's closing date is now Aug. 30, a week later than the original posted closing date of Aug. 23.

The Office of Animal Welfare is a newly created state-run, state-funded office "responsible for coordinating programs, standards, and oversight to protect our state's animals and ensure best practices with public health and safety."

The executive director's duties include acting as a liaison to members of the General Assembly on behalf of animal welfare organizations, researching best practices for animal control management, establishing Trap-Neuter-Return protocols for the state's cat overpopulation and establishing education initiatives. The job pays anywhere from $66,175 to $99,263.

For Kent County SPCA Executive Director Kevin Usilton, the state's initial posting of the job for just one week raised some red flags.

"In order to attract a qualified individual, you need a lot more time than just a week in order to get a successful candidate," Usilton said. "It tells me that Sen. Blevins knows who she's appointing to that position and that they've created a job description and the office so that that person will get that position."

President Pro Tempore Sen. Patty Blevins, D-Elsmere, chaired the Animal Welfare Task Force that created the Office of Animal Welfare. Sen. Blevins responded to Usilton's statement by saying, "I'm not involved in the hiring," adding posting a position for a week is standard protocol for the state.

Including the executive director, the state is trying to fill five positions for the Office of Animal Welfare.

Mixed feelings

While the Office of Animal Welfare is expected to consolidate all animal welfare-related issues, Usilton fears the only thing the office will do is crank out more regulations and standards for animal shelters to comply with, without any additional funding.

Usilton says efforts to comply with the state's shelter standards law, passed in 2010, resulted in $450,000 in debt for Kent County SPCA.

"The Office of Animal Welfare is kind of like the police for nonprofit organizations, but it doesn't give the nonprofits any money," Usilton said. "I don't think a nonprofit sets itself up to fail, but nonprofits are going to fail in Delaware if they're not allowed funding to go with the mandates that the state comes up with."

"Right now, we're not looking at putting more requirements on shelters," Blevins retorted, adding she would like to see more funding go to the Kent County SPCA and the Delaware SPCA. "We do not give any state money or county money to the two nonprofit SPCA's that do cruelty investigations. And they do that as part of a public service and I really think that they should help them with that."

Nuts and bolts

The Office of Animal Welfare was allocated $300,000 from the state as it works to establish itself. That money will carry it through the end of the fiscal year, June 30.

"As the hiring finishes, and as there will possibly be a need to contract with a veterinarian if a veterinarian is not hired through the process... once all of those budget items are laid out, then we'll be able to tell the budget office how much the office will cost for fiscal year 2015," Blevins said.