The Delaware County SPCA said Tuesday that an extension of its July 1 deadline to close its shelter to stray animals was possible if the county agreed to assume costs for animal care and control.

"This is the only way we would be able to go about providing an extension," said Justina Calgiano, spokeswoman for the SPCA. The county has asked for a six-month extension and had said it would help with finances.

A letter from the shelter's executive director, Richard Matelsky, faxed to the county Tuesday, said the group's board had voted to continue discussions with the county. The shelter said it had been in touch with the state Attorney General's Office to review the plans for the extension.

"This is a big turnaround, a really big turnaround," said County Councilman Mario J. Civera Jr. "I think this is positive news, they are moving in a positive direction."

Last year, the small shelter in Media gave notice that it would no longer continue municipal animal-control contracts. Municipalities account for about 66 percent of the strays - nearly 2,000 animals last year - that are brought to the SPCA.

On Friday, the shelter rejected a plea from the county and municipalities to extend the deadline. SPCA officials said they could not legally do so and stay within their charitable mission, nor could they afford it.

At that time, county officials offered to help work out any legal issues the shelter would face, and to provide funds to help with animal care. The cost of that care has not been determined.

Civera said Tuesday that the county was moving ahead with plans to erect a new shelter on a three-acre tract owned by the Darby Creek Joint Sewer Authority on Calcon Hook Road in Darby Township.

The county has also filed the paperwork to form a nonprofit to oversee the shelter. A nine-member board will be appointed by the county, Civera said.

The board, he said, will be charged with finding a group to run the shelter.

"Now we have to finish up what we have started," Civera said. "I am not going to be able to get someone to take care of these animals if we don't provide the facility. This was going to come full-circle back into our lap one way or the other."