Thursday, March 14, 2019

March 2019 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

Hello, all,
Here is a summary of the Commission's March meeting.

            AGENDA
                                      March 12, 2019

1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call-Determination of a Quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Roy Plummer, Ann Gearhart, Larry Townsend, Janice Vincent (by phone) and Julianne Zimmer (by phone).

3. Approval of minutes-Here are the minutes as approved:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES
ADVISORY COMMISSION
February 19, 2019

The thirty-sixth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 in the Main Conference Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Gerald Brooks, Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer, Larry Townsend, Janice Vincent and Julianne Zimmer (by phone).

Minutes

Minutes from the January 15, 2019 meeting were motioned and approved with changes.

Motion – 

Motioned by: Larry Townsend
Second by: Anne Gearhart
Decision:  Approved

Police/Health Department Meeting

Gerald Brooks was invited to participate in a meeting between the Animal Abuse Team and Animal Services. He was invited as a member of the department and as a commission member.  
The meeting’s aim was to develop a more cohesive relationship and to discuss division of responsibilities. Calls come thru 911, police department and animal services, and the goal is to figure out how to funnel these calls into one place. Gerald said all emergency calls need to go through 911. 
Deb asked if Animal Services is ever the first responder in any of the calls that come in. Gerald said that in most cases, the patrol officer responds to the call first, and a determination is made at that point to have Animal Services respond after an assessment of triage is conducted of the facts and evidence available. 
 If it is not a criminal offense, abuse or neglect, then Animal Services would respond. 
Gerald advised that the meeting lasted for about 30 minutes to one hour and they will meet again. Attendees included Dr. Jones, Gary Klunk, and members of the Animal Abuse Team.
Two members of the Animal Abuse team attended the Commission meeting. Officer Mo Gardner said everything is going well. He did not have statistics (numbers of calls and types of calls that the Team has responded to), as he was notified at the last minute of the meeting. Deb will ask Sgt. Gaynor for the statistics. Officer Gardner advised they are working on creating relationships with patrol units and residents.   
Officer Kolbicki, of the Animal Abuse Team, advised things have smoothed out on their end. 
Joy asked how are hoarding cases are handled. Officer Gardner advised that if the call comes in through 911, a patrol unit would respond first to identify whether Animal Services or the Animal Abuse Team are needed to go in to get the animals, not using forced entry. 

Adopted, then Loose

A German shepherd was adopted from the Baltimore County Animal Shelter (BCAS) on a Thursday, then was seen running loose in Dundalk several days later. The adopter no longer wanted the dog. Someone was able to get the dog into their car and transported it to Dundalk Animal Hospital, which then surrendered the dog back to Animal Services. 

Website Postings Update

Deborah reached out to Donna Metlin who is administrator of a Lost and Found Pets in Baltimore County page. Donna had previously said that BCAS website postings for strays were sometimes delayed. Deborah said Donna advised that website postings for strays has slightly improved.  She said sometimes animals are still posted late, when some of the stray hold period has elapsed, and sometimes after the stray hold is over. 

Baltimore Sun/Towson Times Article

The Baltimore Sun/Towson Times did an extensive article in January about Commission findings concerning owner requested euthanasia.  The Commission learned through interviews with BCAS staff that BCAS pressures owners who surrender pets to request euthanasia, using this to keep live release statistics higher than they really are. The article documented this claim with interviews with BCAS staff.  Deb emailed the article to commission members.

Asilomar Accords

BCAS says that starting in 2015, it began recording data according to the Asilomar Accords. The Asilomar Accords resulted from a gathering of animal welfare industry leaders from across the nation in Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California in 2004. The purpose was to build bridges across varying philosophies, to develop relationships and create goals focused on reducing the euthanasia of healthy and treatable companion animals in the United States. 
They then put forward the Asilomar Accords. Here is what the Accords say about Owner Requested Euthanasia:

“Owner/Guardian Requested Euthanasia (Unhealthy & Untreatable Only): The number of unhealthy and untreatable dogs and cats your shelter or animal group euthanized at the request of their owners/ guardians and the number of dogs and cats ordered to be euthanized by legislative, judicial or administrative action. Do not include any dogs and cats your shelter or animal group euthanized at the request of their owners/guardians and who were considered to be healthy, treatable-rehabili- tatable or treatable-manageable at the time of death. [See M, N, O, P for definitions of healthy, treatable-rehabilitatable, treatable-manageable, unhealthy & untreatable.]” 

The practice of pressuring owners to request euthanasia as a means of influencing live release rates clearly does not comport with the principles of the Asilomar Accords. 

Dog Introduction Video

A video was posted on the BCAS website of a dog named Druzy. In that brief video, the BCAS Behavior Coordinator, was holding a bully breed in a run area. Another staff member introduced Druzy to another dog head-on. Joy freedman who is a Commission member and animal behaviorist said this is not the proper way to introduce dogs to each other. 
That sentiment was echoed by another behaviorist Deborah contacted who said, “They did nothing correctly. You never intro dogs face to face; on a tight leash with corrections. That is setting up the dogs for failure.”

Adopter Returns

Deborah is requesting information from Baltimore County on pets that are adopted from BCAS and then returned. Deborah is interested to learn how many of these animals are returned and whether BCAS learns the reasons why they are returned. If it turns out that the reasons are behavioral, BCAS might want to look into the possibility of offering behavioral resources to adopters. 

Need for TNR Law

Deb talked about the TNR law in Baltimore City which enables BARCS to more easily carry out its TNR program. Deborah would like to examine the possibility of having a similar law in Baltimore County. Deb would like to form a committee to create legislation to aid the Baltimore County TNR program. She believes this may eliminate the problem of owners refusing to accept community cats back on their property as the TNR law would require cats to be returned where they were trapped. This appears to be a reason why BCAS is sometimes returning cats in locations other than where they were trapped. 
Gerald advised that the County Executive Team has a legislature representative, Charles Conner, and we should consider consulting him about this. 
In addition, Julianne expressed concerns that TNR cats at BCAS are not given care for medical conditions they may have.
Several members of the Commission talked about the fact that other TNR programs do provide this care and they are concerned that BCAS does not. In addition, cats brought in for TNR at BCAS are never put in the adoption room even if they are friendly and adoptable and there is available cage space in the cat adoption room.

Upcoming Meeting with County Representative

Joy, Deb and Darla Feeheley, a former member of the commission and who was involved in the drafting of Oscar’s Law, will be meeting with Sam O’Neil. The meeting has been tentatively scheduled for March 5, 2019.  

Any Other Business?

Janice distributed an email about attending one of the County Executive’s Town Hall meetings where she expressed concerns about BCAS. She urged those wishing to contribute ideas or express concerns to email an address set up by the County Administration to take comments. Comments can be sent to Ideas@baltimorecountymd.gov  

Janice talked about a previous visit to Fairfax County’s municipality shelter, and discussed the fact that they, like many other shelters, have a 501C3 group that raises funds for them. Discussion ensued about the possibility of creating a “Friends Of” charity to benefit BCAS.

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 12, 2018 at the Loch Raven Library, 1046 Taylor Ave, Towson, MD 21286, at 6:30 p.m.

Adjournment

Motion to adjourn
Motion by: Gerald Brooks
Second by: Ann Gearhart
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 8:10 p.m.



4. Commission Membership-Our Commission is now down two members. Robert McCullough (Julian Jones's appointee has been promoted to Col. in the Police Dept. and is unable to continue to serve on this Commission. In addition, Maryanne Martin Bailey's work obligations are preventing her from attending our meetings. We'll miss them both and appreciate the contributions they have made.

5. County Responses-The Commission's questions previously had to be directed to Fred Homan. Since his departure from the County, our liaison is now Stacie Burgess, Chief of Communications in the Dept. of Health and Human Services. Stacie has been great. She gets the answers we request and responds quickly back with responses. In addition, when I submitted questions involving salaries at Animal Services, I received a call from Kevin Reed at the Dept. of Health who spent close to 45 minutes on the phone with me, and he responded to followup questions via email.
It appears that Johnny O's promises of transparency are being carried out by those working in the County and we are deeply appreciative.

6. Info on Adoption Returns-One of the questions we have submitted concerns information on animals that are adopted from BCAS and then returned. We're attempting to learn how many animals are returned, and whether BCAS keeps track of the reasons for return. If it turns out that most are returned because of behavior problems, it's clear that BCAS needs to begin offering resources to adopters, including classes on what to expect with a new pet, how to be a responsible and loving pet owner, and classes in obedience training. BARCS offers every dog adopter a free six week course in obedience training.
The goal must always be to not only facilitate adoptions, but to do everything we can to make those adoptions successful, so that animals don't once again find themselves at a shelter.

7. BCAS Salary Information-As mentioned above, I spent a good deal of time on the phone with Kevin Reed of the Dept. of Health and Human Svcs.  learning more about salaries paid to management at BCAS. I appreciate the time he spent to do this,
Salary information is public information. Here is what I learned:
 
The previous Chief of Animal Services, Charlotte Crenson's title was Supervisor Animal Services Division-She was earning an annual salary of $95,467.

Dr. Melissa Jones
While we were told by the former County Administrative Officer Fred Homan that her title is Chief of Animal Services, the salary list we have lists the salary for Chief AS as "0". Mr. Reed confirmed that she is being paid a salary for a position titled,"Senior Administrative Assistant to the CAO (County Administrative Officer)." It appears that title gave Fred Homan the ability pay her a higher salary.
We had wondered whether she was also getting paid as one of the 5 vets at BCAS. She is not.

 (Fiscal year starts on July 1 each year-so July of 2015 was start of FY 2016)

July, 2015 she earned $149,262.
July, 2016 her salary was increased to $172,441. There was a  2% COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) that year. Her salary increase was 15.5%.
July, 2017 there was again a 2% COLA. Her salary went to $181,182. That is just over a 5% increase.
July, 2018 there was no increase. An increase took effect in January, 2019.
January, 2019 there was a 3% COLA which she received and her salary is now $186,617.

Since July of 2015, her salary has increased by 24.8%

Gary Klunk
in July of 2015 Gary Klunk made $82,406
July 2016-his salary increased to $95,171 a year -there was a 2% COLA that year. His pay increase was 15.4%.
July 2017-he was paid $107,105 a year- there was a 2% COLA that year.  His increase was12.5%.
No raise in July of 2018 but on Jan. 1, 2019 everyone in the County got a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 3%. Gary got an additional 1.6% (so a total of 4.6% increase)  and now his salary is $112,065.

Since July of 2015, Gary Klunk’s salary has increased from just over $82,000 to just over $112,000. That’s an increase of 36.6%.

8. Police Animal Abuse Unit Stats-Here are stats we have received from the Animal Abuse Team:
Cases assigned- 186
Cases sent to State’s Attorney’s Office- 29
Animals seized- 25
Cruelty- 18 cases
Neglect- 54
Abuse- 6
Animal complaints- 70
Domestic related- 3

There were a lot of questions about these numbers including:
1.What happens in the cases that are domestic related, i.e. were social workers brought in? 
2. Was the Domestic Violence Coordinating Committee part of that process?
3. If children were involved, what was the followup with Youth Services?
4. What happened to all the cases that were not referred to the State's Atty?
5. What was the outcome of those cases that were referred to the State's Attorney?

I will be following up on these questions with the Animal Abuse Team and will report back to the Commission about what I learn. I'll also request that someone from the Team come to our April meeting so we can learn more. Sgt. Gaynor of the Animal Abuse Team is always responsive to my calls and questions. 

9. Health Dept. Visit to BCAS-We have told by numerous BCAS employees that representatives of the Health Dept. including Dr. Branch have visited BCAS recently. On one of those visits, we were told that Dr. Branch said that the incident involving the guinea pigs almost being taken top a snake farm was untrue. Staff members told us they were very upset about this because they knew the story to be true.

10. Meeting with Administration-Joy Freedman, Julianne Zimmer, Darla Feeheley (a former Commission member) will be meeting with Samantha O'Neill who is Senior Advisor in the
Office of the County Executive on March 14th to learn more about the Administration's plans for BCAS. This meeting was referenced in our last meeting and was scheduled for March 5th but was rescheduled for the 14th.

11. General Assembly Legislation-Here is a summary of Animal Welfare Legislation that has come before the General Assembly in the current legislative session. These are proposed bills that have been supported by MD Votes for Animals.

a) HB 501
This bill would have established minimum, commonsense protections for dogs by ensuring that they are not left outdoors and unattended during temperatures below 32 or above 90 degrees.
Status: Was introduced several weeks into the session by Del. Karen Young of Frederick with good intention but without consulting  any animal groups.
Status: This bill did not make it out of committee.
It looks like this might be better handled county by county rather than through statewide legislation.

b) SB 355/HB 641
It is not currently a crime in Maryland to advertise, traffic, or solicit animals for sex on the Internet.
There needs to be a clear definition in Maryland Law about what constitutes sexual abuse to animals so that perpetrators of these crimes cannot escape punishment due to lack of clarity under the current law.
Moreover, the law needs to penalize individuals involved with animal sexual abuse like those who allow their pets to be sexually abused by others (usually for a profit) or force others to sexually abuse animals.
Animal sexual abuse is the single strongest predictor of increased risk for committing child sexual abuse.
Status: Hearing was held in House and Senate committees.  Waiting to see if it comes out of committee.

c) SB-143/HB-213
Cownose Ray Fishery Management Plan and Moratorium on Contests
In 2017, Maryland passed legislation that prohibited Cownose Ray killing contests and required the Department of Natural Resources to prepare a species management plan.
During these brutal contests, often lasting for several days, hundreds of defenseless Cownose Rays were shot with arrows, hit with bats, and then dumped into the Chesapeake Bay.
Since Cownose Rays migrate to the Chesapeake Bay when they are pregnant, many of the victims of these contests are pregnant.
The deadline for the species management plan has passed and the moratorium on the Cownose Rays Killing Contests will expire on July 1, 2019.
SB 143/HB 213 would extend the moratorium on the killing contests and ensure the safety of the Cownose Rays.
Status: Passed unanimously in the Senate with an amendment saying the ban will continue until and unless the Dept. of Natural Resources passes a Species Management Plan.
House version of the bill also passed.

d) SB-152/HB-135-Costs of Care: Criminal Law - Cruelty to Animals - Seizure and Removal
This bill would establish a legal process for individuals whose animals have been seized due to cruelty.
If a court determines that the seizure was lawful and the costs requested were reasonable, they could be required to pay for the animals’ care while the criminal case is being decided.
This would provide relief to animal control agencies in Maryland from incurring debilitating costs in animal cruelty cases, saving tax dollars and animal lives.
36 states have this law, including: Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Delaware.
Status: Had Senate hearing. Sen. Bobby ZIrkin put forward a different bill that says if an animal is seized and the person is found guilty they must pay restitution.
This is not very different from current law which
Says they MAY pay restitution. This bill says they WILL pay restitution.
Status: The bill passed full Senate unanimously and has crossed over to the House.
Expected to pass.

e) Insurance- Homeowner’s and Renter’s Policies – Breed Discrimination – SB 647
     -This bill prohibits an insurer from discriminating against certain breeds or mixed breeds of dogs in a homeowner's or renter's insurance policy.
    - Insurance companies maintain that certain breeds of dogs create more claims than other breeds. Therefore, there companies exclude coverage, or surcharge homeowners or renters, based upon that information.
    -Getting homeowner's and renter's insurance can be difficult, if not impossible, for Marylanders with certain breeds of dogs. As a result, people sometimes are faced with a difficult decision to surrender their dogs to shelters or rehome them because they can’t get the homeowner's or renter's insurance required by their banks or landlords.
    -Laws in Michigan and Pennsylvania prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to homeowners based upon the dog's breed.
Status: The hearing was held Tuesday, 3/12 in the Senate Finance Committee.

12. Any Other Business? I received a call from a good friend who accompanied someone recently in pulling a dog for a rescue. She said that everything went smoothly and the BCAS staff handled everything professionally.
We often focus on problems at BCAS. It's important to also comment when we hear positive feedback! As we have often said, there are many talented and dedicated staff members at BCAS who are working very hard for the animals there.

13. Next Meeting Date and Location-Our next meeting will be held April 16th at 6:30 PM in our usual room on the 3rd floor of the Drumcastle Building at 6401 York Rd.

14. Adjournment















Sunday, February 24, 2019

February 19, 2019 meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

Hi, everyone. I apologize for the delay in posting this. We covered a tremendous amount in our February meeting.
Here is a summary.

                        February 19, 2019 meeting
                                 Baltimore County
               Animal Services Advisory Commission
                                           AGENDA
                                   

1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call (Determination of a Quorum)-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Joy Freedman, Larry Townsend, Janice Vincent, Roy Plummer, Ann Gearhart, Gerald Brooks and Julianne Zimmer (by phone)
3. Approval of Jan., 2019 Minutes-

Here are the January minutes as approved:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES
ADVISORY COMMISSION
January 15, 2019

The thirty-fifth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 in the Main Conference Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Gerald Brooks, Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer, Larry Townsend, Janice Vincent and Julianne Zimmer.

Minutes

Minutes from the December 4, 2018 meeting were motioned and approved as submitted. 
Ann Gearhart asked for a change of language in the first sentence under the title of Statistics indicating that it is not certain that the statistics are being manipulated but rather that the Commission has information that this is taking place. There was a vote on the motion. 

Motion Failed

Motion to approve the minutes as submitted – 

Motioned by: Joy Freedman
Second by: Julianne Zimmer
Abstained: Ann Gearhart 
The rest of the Commission voted to approve the minutes as submitted
Decision:  Approved

Owner Requested Euthanasia

There was discussion about documents concerning owner requested euthanasia (ORE) that was supplied by BCAS upon the Commission’s request. The Commission requested the documents because of questions as to why the number of ORE had jumped so dramatically. BCAS supplied over 800 documents, so Deborah was unable to review them all. Many of the cases appeared to be as one would expect involving pets that were old and sick. However, some appeared questionable, as did one case concerning an unaltered 2-year old English Mastiff named Cole. Information from Cole’s owner indicated that the dog had playfully bitten a family member when it was one year old, but the skin was not broken. The document later referenced aggression and referred to two bite incidents. But nothing was documented about the second bite. On one form asking whether the owner was requesting euthanasia, the box for “no” was checked, then crossed out and the “yes” box was checked.
There were also cases involving several kittens brought in together that were in very bad health and appeared to possibly be victims of severe neglect. However, the Commission learned that this case was never forwarded to the State’s Attorney’s Animal Abuse Unit. 

Oscar

The Oscar case has been resolved with a plea deal for Oscar’s owner. He pled guilty to one count of failure to provide shelter. He received PBJ, 6 months probation, a $500 fine, a fine of $2300 to pay the forensic vet in the case, and he cannot possess animals for 3 years.

Guinea Pigs

At the Commission’s last meeting, members requested more information on the number of guinea pigs that were euthanized out of a group of 60 that came into BCAS in October of 2018. BCAS had planned to take some of those guinea pigs to a snake farm in Pennsylvania to be used as snake food, but BCAS employees brought the guinea pigs back to BCAS after an outcry from BCAS staff. Of the 60 guinea pigs that were surrendered on October 1, 34 went to a rescue and 20 were euthanized. The remaining 6 were adopted. 

Failure to Quickly Post Photos of Animals on Stray Hold

A letter from Donna Metlin was shared with the commission. Donna administers a Baltimore County lost and found page online. She has documented numerous animals that have not been promptly posted on the BCAS website. This is of concern because there is a three day stray hold period. Any delay in posting reduces the amount of time an owner has to find their missing pet before it goes onto the adoptable floor at the shelter.  Donna has also found cases where the location of where an animal has been found is not correct.

In one case, a woman’s pet Rottweiler went missing. The owner called animal services and employees told her to check the website. There were two Rottweilers at BCAS, and one was, in fact, her dog. But someone at BCAS had mistakenly posted the same picture for both of the. The picture was of the second Rottweiler, not the one belonging to the woman. She asked to see the dogs on stray hold, and was not allowed to do so, as owners are not allowed into the stray hold room at BCAS, nor are they allowed to see the animals on stray hold. After the three day stray hold period, her dog went onto the adoptable floor. Luckily an animal advocate realized what had happened and ultimately the woman did get her dog back.
This could have been completely avoided if members of the public were allowed to see animals on stray hold.
Other shelters in our area allow people to see stray hold animals.

Deb, Julianne and Joy want to find out why there is a policy to forbid the public from seeing animals on stray hold.

Joy again said we need to see all BCAS SOP’s.


Releasing Information to Prior Pet Owner

Management Analyst, for BCAS, called a woman who had adopted a dog from BCAS and told her that the dog’s previous owner had filed a Freedom of Information Act Request to get the information of his dog’s adopter.
Klunk advised her that her personal information was going to be given to the previous owner. 
This contradicts what Commission members have been told in the past which indicated that personal info on adopters would never be given to a previous owner. Deborah reached out to the attorney that works in the County Council office. He then contacted the County Attorney who agreed not to release the information. 
Ann is to check with other agencies within Maryland to see if such information would be released under a Freedom of Information Act request. 

Spay/Neuter on Second Impound

Animals on second impound must be spayed or neutered before BCAS will release them back to their owners, however, the owner of a Yorkie that was on second impound did not want her animal altered and Commission members have been told that she took her complaint to the Director of Health and Human Services, Baltimore County, and he allowed the dog to be released back to her without being altered. There was extensive discussion about this and many Commission members expressed concern about someone being allowed to avoid this rule, which is intended to reduce animal overpopulation. Commission members believe the rule should always be enforced.

Dog Adopted to Elderly Man

A dog at BCAS that was extremely difficult to handle was adopted out to an elderly man who was not capable of handling the dog, He subsequently brought the dog back after receiving numerous bites. 
There was discussion about the importance of counseling adopters to adopt pets that are appropriate for them. 
Commission members want to know more about the number of animals that are returned to BCAS after adoption.

Quarterly Statistics

Commission members reviewed BCAS statistics from the 4th quarter of 2018. 


Meeting with Administration

Darla, Joy, Julianne, and Deb met with Sam O’Neil, administrative senior advisor, from the County Executive’s Office to discuss the Commission’s findings in its most recent annual report and addendum

Volunteers Request

Shelter volunteers requested that the weight of the dog be placed on the kennel cards at BCAS. They were advised by shelter staff that this would have to be approved by the Baltimore County legal department.

Health Certificates for Animals Going to Rescue

When dogs or cats are sent to rescues, Commission members have been told by representatives of rescue organizations, who wish to remain anonymous, that BCAS does not provide a healthy pet certificate. Commission members are checking on this.

Volunteer Question

Can BCAS turn down adopters?
The Commission is checking to find out under what circumstances someone will be refused adoption. 

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 19, 2018 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room at 6:30 p.m.

Adjournment

Motion to adjourn
Motion by: Julianne Zimmer
Second by: Roy Plummer
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

At the start of this meeting, there was once again discussion about obtaining SOP's for BCAS. Last year BCAS provided its SOP's. However, they appeared to be more policies than actual procedures. Gerald Brooks has said on several occasions he would ask for the SOP's for us, but has not yet been able to obtain them. Gerald said he is communicating with Animal Svcs. to see how we can get access to the SOP's.

4. Police/Health Dept. Meeting-Gerald Brooks-Gerald attended a meeting with members of the Baltimore County Animal Abuse Team and representatives of BCAS. Gerald summarized what took place, saying that the meeting's purpose was to go over what some duties were, who was responsible for what and tried to develop a more cohesive relationship with Animal Svcs. and the Animal Abuse Team. They talked about where calls were coming from, how calls were coming in and who would respond to what calls. Gerald said nothing was decided, but some internal issues involving staffing and other things were resolved.
Deborah spoke with Sgt. Sundia Gaynor of the Animal Abuse Team after the Commission meeting. He said, "BCAS and the Animal Abuse Team have been increasing communication and addressing issues that will benefit all stakeholders involved to better care for the animals in Baltimore County."
Sgt. Gaynor and Gerald Brooks say another meeting will be held soon to continue discussions.

Gerald was asked what his title is in the Police Dept. He said he is Assistant to the Chief of Police.

5. Website Postings Update-At our last Commission meeting, Commission members discussed a letter from Donna Metlin who manages a Lost and Found Pets in Baltimore County website. Donna expressed concern that some stray animals' photos are not posted promptly online by BCAS. Since there is only a three day stray hold before stray animals go onto the adoptable floor, this is of real concern because any delay would shorten the amount of time pet owners have to find their missing pets. Deborah provided an update from Donna who says that there are still issues ongoing, that strays are sometimes posted a day or more after they come in to BCAS, and that an incorrect picture of one cat was posted for two days.
These are real issues because the public is not allowed to see animals on stray hold at BCAS and are always told to check the website for photos.
Deborah has requested clarification from Baltimore County officials as to what the policy is concerning stray hold animals and the public and why the public is not allowed in the stray hold room.

6. Baltimore Sun/ Towson Times article-There was an extensive article in the Baltimore Sun and Towson Times in January that lent credence to the Commission's findings that Baltimore County Animal Services pressures those surrendering animals to sign a form requesting euthanasia so that any euthanasia of these animals will not count against BCAS's live release rate.

7. Asilomar Accords-Deborah provided information on the Asilomar Accords. We have been told by Baltimore County that BCAS began recording data according to the Asilomar Accords in 2015. But according to the Asilomar Accords, the only euthanasia that should not be counted against a shelter's live release rate is the euthanasia of animals that are "unhealthy and untreatable." If BCAS is using a request by an owner to euthanize as an excuse to euthanize an animal that is healthy and treatable by definitions provided in the Asilomar Accords, it is not in accordance with the Accords.

8. Dog Introduction Video-A video was posted on the BCAS Facebook page of the BCAS Behavior Coordinator introducing a dog to another dog at the shelter. Joy Freedman who is a behaviorist and dog trainer said the method that was used to introduce the dogs went against everything that a behaviorist would do when introducing two dogs. Deborah reached out to another behaviorist in our area to have him watch the video and comment and he echoed Joy's concerns saying, "Very sad. They did nothing correctly You never intro dogs face to face on a tight leash with corrections. That is setting up the dogs  for failure."

9. Need for TNR Law-Deborah talked about BCAS's policy of returning TNR'd cats sometimes as far as 1/2 to a mile away from the trapping point. It appears this happens in cases where property owners where the cats were trapped  don't want the cats back on their property.
Returning TNR'd cats to the trapping location is critical so that cats can find their source of water, food, and shelter.Baltimore City has laws that require TNR'd cats to be "return the trapped Community Cats to their original location." Deborah wants to explore the possibility of creating legislation for Baltimore County that mimics the city's legislation.
Julianne discussed her concerns that TNR'd cats in Baltimore County's program receive no additional medical treatment beyond the basic TNR package. Very often this means cats are returned with health problems that will cause suffering and possibly death.

10. Upcoming Meeting with County Rep-Deborah, Joy and Animal Advocate Darla Feeheley will meet soon again with Sam O'Neill who is in Johnny O's administration. That meeting will take place in early March after the county has completed its audit of BCAS which is supposed to conclude at the end of February.

11. Any Other Business? Janice Vincent said she spoke at the District 6 Town Hall meeting on February 7th about the "ongoing perceived serious issues at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter."  She mentioned that there are many employees/former employees volunteers and rescue participants who want to share their experiences but feel they need a private environment in which to do so. She said that Johnny O felt they could do so in a private meeting or in private phone calls. He told her she would be receive contact info for someone on his Operation Excellence Team. She reached out to the District 6 Outreach Coordinator  who said he would like permission to share her information with the audit team. He also provided an email that those wishing to remain anonymous could use. The email address is ideas@baltimorecountymd.gov.

12. Announcement of Date and Time of Next Meeting-The Commission's next meeting will not be held on its normal date or in its usual location. It will instead take place on March 12 at 6:30 PM. The Drumcastle Conference Room is not available on that date. We are looking for another location to hold the meeting.

13. Adjournment

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Jan. 15, 2019 meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

     Well, this was quite an interesting meeting. I didn't count, but it appeared there were about 40 members of the public who attended. We have never had such a large crowd. Our meetings are always open to the public and we welcome all who have an interest in Animal Services!
     Not only was there a large crowd, but we covered a tremendous amount of information. Here's a summary of the meeting.

JANUARY 15, 2018 MEETING OF THE BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVIES ADVISORY COMMISSION

1) Call to Order

2) Roll Call-Determination of a Quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Larry Townsend, Ann Gearhart, Gerald Brooks, Roy Plummer, Julianne Zimmer, Janice Vincent, and Joy Freedman.

3) Approval of December Minutes-Minutes from our December meeting were approved. Here are those minutes:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES
ADVISORY COMMISSION
December 04, 2018

The thirty-fourth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Thursday, December 04, 2018 in the Board Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:40 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Jon Christiana, Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer, Larry Townsend, Julianne Zimmer, and Janice Vincent (phone)

Minutes

Minutes from the October 16, 2018 meeting were motioned and approved with corrections.

Motion – 

Motioned by: Julianne Zimmer
Second by:  Joy Freedman
Decision:  Approved

Change in County Government
Plans for the future are to keep asking for remedy, change and transparency.

Guinea Pigs
         61 guinea pigs were surrendered to BCAS in mid October. Within short order, someone at the shelter, either the shelter manager or behavior coordinator, suggested taking them to a snake farm to be used for snake food. Dr. Jones supposedly approved this. While in transit, there was an uproar among shelter staff, so they returned the guinea pigs to the shelter. 26 were euthanized, including all pregnant females, 2 were adopted, and the rest were given to Carroll County Animal Services. 
         Julianne asked a friend, Chloe Waterman, a former lobbyist for the ASPCA, about this and asked whether there are ample rescue options for guinea pigs. She answered yes there are. Joy said that years ago, a large number of small animals were received from a hoarding situation, and an email blast was sent out to BCPS PTA representatives looking for possible adopters with great success. Joy thinks that going forward, BCAS should reach out to schools when small animals come into BCAS in large numbers. Not sure if all rodents are given intake numbers. Larry suggested asking BCAS what happened. Ann said that if BCAS vehicles transport animals across a county or state line, it must be documented. So there may be a paper trail. 

Pigs
There was an incident where a large number of pigs showed up at a wooded lot in Dundalk. People in Dundalk called BCAS. They were told to call the Dept. of Agriculture. DNR ultimately responded and took them to the Ag Ctr. and a farm. Ann said Animal Control should be able to respond in cases like this. 

Plumbing
The bathrooms in the common area was out again. Again, visitors and volunteers were instructed to go off premises to utilize a bathroom. It is not understood why the volunteers could not use the bathroom on the administrative side of the building.  Ultimately they were allowed to access the management bathroom by going outside and walking around the building to enter thru the classroom. . There is no trust to use the restrooms, but volunteers are trusted to take care of animals. It makes no sense. 
Even when the public toilet is working, volunteers must sign a sheet with the guard to use the bathroom. 
Deb is most concerned about attitude issues toward volunteers by BCAS staff. Ann suggested that if the public restroom isn’t working, then the shelter should be closed to the public until the problem is repaired. Several months ago, when the plumbing problem also affected the management bathroom, a port-a-potty was ordered immediately. 

Statistics
BCAS is manipulating its statistics.to make it appear that live release numbers are better than they really are. Deb has spoken with additional staff members who have come forward and learned that employees are being told to pressure owners surrendering their animals to sign a form requesting euthanasia. When that is unsuccessful, staff is instructed to call a supervisor who will exert more pressure. Owner requested euthanasia does not count against the live release rate. 
In addition, cats in the TNR program are given an impound number. This makes it appear that intake is higher and that more animals are having a live outcome. 
Julianne said she believes numbers were fudged to get statistics quickly, rather than being patient and obtaining good live release numbers with good practices. 
Deb has written an addendum to the Commission’s annual report detailing the manipulation of numbers as well as other problems. Deb sent the addendum to the employees that have recently come forward to make sure they were comfortable with it. 
The Commission members in attendance voted unanimously to submit the addendum to the County Executive and Count Council.   

Shelter Visit
Deb and Julianne described an incident over the summer where they went to BCAS after providing the required 4 hour notice to BCAS managers. BCAS Management Analyst Gary Klunk told Deborah he didn’t like her and if he saw her on the street he would walk the other way. He and Dr. Jones indicated they never liked meeting with the liaison committee of the Commission. 
Ann Gearhart told of a meeting she once had with Gary Klunk in which he was very rude to her.

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location
         The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 15, 2018 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rdfloor, Main Conference Room at 6:30 p.m.

Adjournment

Motion to adjourn
Motion by: Marianne Bailey
Second by: Larry Townsend
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 8:21 p.m.


4) Who We Are-We had heard many members of the public would attend our meeting. Knowing that some of those in attendance might not know the background of the Commission, how it was created, and what obligations it has, Deborah gave a brief summary of those points.
The Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was formed by a bill passed unanimously in the County Council in 2015. Each of the 7 County Council members appoints one member to the Commission. The Administration has 4 appointments. We are tasked with acting in an advisory capacity to the County Council and County Executive. We meet monthly, almost always on the third Tuesday of the month at 6:30 PM on the 3rd floor of the Drumcastle Building. We provide reports annually. This year we also submitted an addendum to our annual report.

5) Old Business
a) Owner Requested Euthanasia-At our last meeting, we discussed the large increase in owner requested euthanasia that is reported on BCAS quarterly statistics.
Here is a chart showing that increase by quarter since 2015.



             OWNER REQUESTED EUTHANASIA BY 
                           QUARTER AND YEAR

                                           DOGS


    2015
    2016
    2017
    2018
1STQTR.
      25

      27   
      33
      55
2NDQTR.
      31

      20
      43
      52
3RDQTR.
      40

      27     
      40
    81
4THQTR.
      21

      28
      59
    63
YEARLY TOTAL
117
102
175
   251

                                           CATS


   2015
   2016
   2017
   2018
1stQTR.

      34
      19
      19
      66
2NDQTR

      14
     19 
      43
     52
3RDQTR.

      34
      60
      41
     75
4THQTR.

      23
      23
      40
      62
YEARLY TOTAL
105
121
143
     255

     At our last meeting, Commission members discussed information we received from staffers at BCAS about why that increase has occurred.
     They explained to us that employees at the shelter are instructed to exert pressure on those surrendering pets to sign a form requesting euthanasia. (When an owner requests euthanasia, these animals do not count against the shelter's live release rate.) We also learned that when staffers are unsuccessful in convincing those surrendering pets to sign the form, they are instructed to call a supervisor who can then exert more pressure.
     Deborah had sent a request for documents related to owner requested euthanasia for the third quarters of 2017 and 2018. BCAS provided that information on a disk.
     There were almost 850 files on the disk, including forms fulled out by surrendering owners, physical exam forms, and other documents related to pets surrendered by owners requesting euthanasia.
     Because there were so many files on the disk, Deborah was unable to examine all of them, but as she looked through them, many involved animals that were very old or very sick. These, of course, are the kinds of animals one would expect would be surrendered with a request for euthanasia.
But there were also some that appeared to raise red flags.
     For example, one involved a 2-year-old unaltered English Mastiff. His owner describes him as playful and energetic, and said he can be loving. When asked, "Has your pet ever bitten or injured a person or another animal?", his owner mentions that over a year ago, he "playfully" bit a family member and left a bruise. (That would have happened while the dog was still under a year old.) But someone at the shelter wrote that he was "unadoptable" due to "2 bites."
     On a form asking whether the owner was requesting euthanasia, the no box is checked then scratched out, and the yes box is checked. On another form, someone at BCAS wrote that the owner requested euthanasia for aggression.

     Then there is another case involving an adult cat named Big Guy and 3 10-week-old kittens labeled Big Guy 1, 2 and 3 that came into the shelter in Sept. 2017.
     Big Guy was 6-years-old. BCAS writes on a form that he has a chronic severe upper respiratory infection and is underweight and hairless.
     The kittens are described as having upper respiratory infections, being severely dehydrated and emaciated with muscle wasting.
     It would appear that this owner may have severely neglected these cats. Yet BCAS did not forward this case to the State's Attorney Animal Abuse Unit.

b) Oscar Case Outcome-Almost a year after Oscar died, the Oscar case has been resolved. Oscar’s owner pled guilty on Dec. 17 to one count of failure to provide shelter for which he received Probation Before Judgement , 6 months probation, a $500 fine, he had to pay the fee for the forensic veterinarian which was $2300, and he cannot possess animals for three years.

c) Guinea Pig Tallies-At the Commission's last meeting, we discussed a case involving about 60 guinea pigs that were pets surrendered to BCAS after the death of their owner. We learned that BCAS employees were on their way to a snake farm with some of the guinea pigs that they intended to leave there to be used as snake food. This is a shocking idea and there was such an outcry among BCAS staffers that those driving the guinea pigs returned with them to the shelter.
BCAS has provided the following information on the outcome of all the guinea pigs:
There were a total of 60 guinea pigs surrendered to BCAS on 10/17/2018.
Rescued: 34
Euthanized: 26
We have been previously told by sources that many of those euthanized were pregnant females.

6) New Business
a) Failure to quickly post photos of animals on stray hold (Donna Metlin letter)
     Baltimore County Animal Services is required to hold stray animals for three days to give their owners an opportunity to find their lost pets. Donna Metlin, who administers several lost and found  websites sent a letter to us outlining numerous concerns she has. One is that some animals are being posted late into the stray hold period, giving owners less time to find their pets. Sometimes these animals' photos aren't posted until there is only one day left in the stray hold period.
     Donna also raises concerns that the public is not allowed to go into the stray hold area to find their lost pets. Other municipal shelters, including Howard County and Anne Arundel County allow owners access to animals on stray hold in hopes that lost pets and owners can be reunited ASAP.
     Baltimore County has a rule that says the public cannot enter the stray hold room.
     The problem with this became very evident in a recent case involving a Rottweiler that was missing. Accidentally the shelter posted the wrong photo of this dog when it arrived at the shelter. Its owner called BCAS numerous times. BCAS told her she needed to look at the website photos, and she was not allowed to see two Rottweilers that were currently on stray hold to determine whether one of them was hers.
     Her dog ultimately completed its stray hold, and went on the adoptable floor. Luckily an animal advocate reached out to volunteers to check the adoptable floor and send a photo of the Rottie. Indeed  the woman's dog was at BCAS, and she was reunited with her pet. If it had not been for this intervention, her dog could easily have been adopted by someone and she would have never seen her dog again.
     This raises very serious questions as to why BCAS would have a policy forbidding the public from seeing animals on stray hold.

b) Releasing info to prior pet owners-A dog at BCAS was adopted, and subsequently its previous owner filed a Public Information Act request for the personal information of the person who had adopted his dog. Gary Klunk called the adopter and told her that her personal information was going to be released to the previous owner. Members of the Commission learned of this and Deborah reached out to the County to find out why this information would be released. The County agreed not to release the information. But there are serious questions going forward as to whether adopters can be assured that their personal information will remain private.

c) Spay/neuter on second impound-There was recently a Yorkie at BCAS that had been impounded as a stray for the second time.
     It is a county rule that all animals that end up at BCAS as strays twice must be spayed or neutered before they can leave the shelter. A dog owner who was trying to redeem a dog after its second impound didn’t want the animal altered. We have been told that Dr. Branch interceded and allowed the dog to leave BCAS without being altered.
     This again is of real concern. The whole point of this rule to spay/neuter on second impound is aimed at preventing unaltered animals from contributing to the pet overpopulation problem.

d) Dog adopted to 70-year-old man-There was a dog at BCAS that volunteers described as so active and hyper that it took two volunteers to walk him. BCAS adopted this dog to a 70-year-old man. The man ultimately (and as one would expect) couldn't handle the dog. He returned it to BCAS after receiving numerous bites. Commission members talked at length about the need for adoption counseling so that animals are adopted to owners that are appropriate for their level of activity, etc.

e) Numerous returns by adoptees-need to provide resources to adopters-We have learned that 15 dogs have been returned to BCAS by their adopters in the last 45 days. This raises the importance of providing services to adopters that help them manage their new pets and be good pet owners.  BARCS, for example, offers obedience training classes for every adopter. BCAS needs to examine the possibility of providing services to help keep adopted pets in their homes.

f) Quarterly Stats-Here are the 4th quarter 2018 stats for BCAS as well as a comparison with 4th quarter stats from 2017.

page1image54092880
MARYLAND ANIMAL CONTROL SHELTER SURVEY / 1(Boxes will expand as you enter text)
Name of Shelter/Facility: Baltimore County Animal Services Address: 13800 Manor Road Baldwin, MD. 21013
Name of Shelter Manager: Lauren Pavlik
EMAIL: lpavlik@baltimorecountymd.gov

Name of Person completing this survey: Gary Klunk
Phone: 410-887-7297
Activity for Reporting Quarter: October-December 2018
DOGS CATS
page1image47199552
A. Live Animal Count at Beginning of Qtr
45
page1image54085152
158
B. Stray/At Large
325
page1image47324480
403
C. Relinquished by Owner
page1image54099376
107
200
D. Owner Requested Euthanasia
page1image54088736
79
77
E. Transferred in from another Agency
page1image54095680
0
page1image54089296
0
F. Other Live Intakes (impounds, births, animals placed in foster care, brought in for TNR, etc)
11
357
G. TOTAL LIVE INTAKE DURING QTR (B+C+D+E+F)
page1image54136768
522
page1image54134976
1037
H. Adoption
page1image54135648
139
348
I. Returned to Owner
page1image54146960
165
25
page1image47446464
J. Transferred to another Agency
125
190
K. Other Live Outcome (includes TNRs released)
page1image54136432
0
300
L. Died/Lost in Care
page1image54139456
0
6
page1image47264320
M. Euthanasia- at Owner’s Request
63
62
N. Euthanasia-All other than owner request
page1image54161440
28
107
O. TOTAL DISPOSITION DURING QTR
page1image54161328
520
1038
page1image47700928
P. Live Animal Count at End of QTR (includes Fosters). (A+G - O)
47
157
page1image47706304
In order to better understand to what degree unowned cats are a source of intake and euthanasia, we need your help. To the best of your abilities, please indicate what percent and/or how much of CAT intake would you consider unowned (i.e. feral, or community cats) animals:
How many of the euthanized cats would you guess are unowned:
1/Pursuant to section 2-1602(H) of the Agriculture Article which states: “Beginning January 14,2014, each county and municipal animal control shelter and each organization that contracts with a county or municipality for animal control shall report quarterly to the Department on a form prescribed by the Department describing for the previous 3 months: (1) The number of cats and dogs taken in; (2) The number of cats and dogs disposed of, broken down by method of disposal, including euthanasia; and (3) Any other relevant data the Department requires.”Please return completed survey by email attachment tomda.spayandneuter@maryland.gov or by mail to Maryland Department of Agriculture, Marketing Department (Spay and Neuter Program), 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401. Questions call Jane Mallory 410-481-5766 email: Jane.Mallory@maryland.gov .
page1image47701312page1image47701504


                       STATS ANALYSIS-4TH QTR. 2018 VS 4THQTR 2017 STATS


              DOGS
            CATS
INTAKE
               522
            1037
ADOPTED
               139
            348   
TO RESCUE
               125
            190
EUTHANIZED AT OWNER REQUEST
                 63
              62
EUTHANZIED OTHER THAN OWNER REQUEST
                 28
             107
OTHER LIVE OUTCOME INCLUDING TNR

            300   
LIVE RELEASE RATE 
         OVER 94%
      ALMOST 85%


                                                         4THQTR. 2017


              DOGS
               CATS
INTAKE 
               486
              1043
ADOPTED
               121
               292
TO RESCUE
               128
               257
EUTHANIZED AT OWNER REQUEST
                59
                40
EUTHANIZED OTHER THAN OWNER REQUEST

               42
               107
OTHER LIVE OUTCOME INCLUDING TNR

              424
LIVE RELEASE RATE

        OVER 94%
         OVER 95%

     Again we raise the concern that the live release rates presented here are not accurate, due to the influence exerted on those surrendering animals to sign a form requesting euthanasia. As mentioned earlier, if an owner requests euthanasia, that does not count against the live release rate. If these owners did not sign this form, and these animals were euthanized, these euthanasias would go into the category of "Euthanasia Other Than Owner Request"  and would count against the live release rate. This would lower the Live Release Rate for BCAS. 

g) Meeting with Administration/One Page Summary-Deborah Stone Hess, Julianne Zimmer, Joy Freedman, and Darla Feeheley met recently with Samantha O'Neill who is in the Johnny O Administration. We discussed many of the concerns about BCAS that were brought to light in the Commission's most recent annual report and addendum.
Here is a one sheet summary we provided to Samantha O'Neill.

                                              SERIOUS PROBLEMS AT BCAS

This is about the welfare of animals and the wasting of taxpayer dollars.

·     BCAS is in crisis. 
o  The work environment is described by staff as toxic. They tell us morale is virtually non-existent. 
o  Dr. Jones and Gary Klunk rule by intimidation. 
o  Volunteers feel unappreciated and unimportant.
o  The animals are at risk. 

·     Statistics that BCAS submits in its quarterly reports are manipulated and inaccurate.

·     In July of 2018,BCAS, in effect, dismantled its Animal Control Division, pushing almost all of its duties onto Baltimore County Police.

·     BCAS is not following best practices in its TNR program often abandoning TNR’d cats and kittens.

·     BCAS fails to promptly post photos of impounded animals on 3-day stray hold.

o  Sometimes photos are on the site for only one day before animals are placed on the adoptable floor.
o  Management doesn’t allow the public into the stray hold room to see if their pets are there. (This is not the rule at other shelters.

·     BCAS provides little enrichment (walks, play, socialization, etc.) for animals designated as “rescue only” or those held pending legal proceedings (which can take weeks or months.) 

·     Despite all BCAS failures, taxpayer-funded salaries for BCAS management are much higher than in other jurisdictions. This is a waste of taxpayer money.

The Commission requests:
1)           Complete Management Change at BCAS-We have recommendations
2)           New management must have autonomy to make appropriate changes. Without Fred in charge, now BCAS managers must go to supervisors at the Health Dept. for approval of new plans and protocols. People at the Health Dept. have no understanding about Animal Sheltering.
3)           Transparency-There is currently no transparency at BCAS.
4)           A concrete plan going forward

     We want to be part of the solution. What can we do to help you?

     Our meeting with Sam O'Neill lasted an hour and a half and was very pleasant and open. The Administration has important work to do to examine all of the issues and interview all involved as it determines how to move forward at BCAS. We look forward to working with the new Administration.

7) Any Other Business?
8) Date and Time of Next Meeting Our next meeting will be held on February 19 at 6:30 PM.
9) Adjournment