Sunday, June 24, 2018

June 19, 2018 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory oOmmission

Here's what happened at the most recent meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission on June 19, 2018


1) Call to Order
2) Roll Call-Determination of a Quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Joy Freedman, Janice Vincent, Roy Plummer, Ann Gearhart, Larry Townsend, and Maryanne Martin Bailey
3) Approval of minutes-I apologize I don't have the final file of the minutes in my computer and our Commission's secretary is on vacation. As soon as she returns I will get the minutes and add them in here.

4) Welcome New Commission Member, Gerald Brooks-Gerald Brooks was not able to attend tonight's meeting. We look forward to seeing him any our meeting in July.

5) Police Unit Q and A
Two members of the new Baltimore County Police Animal Abuse Team attended our meeting. They were Sgt. Sundia Gaynor and Detective Mo Gardner. There are three other members of the team that are on vacation and will attend the Commission's next meeting.
Sgt. Gaynor and Detective Gardner were warmly welcomed by all Commission members. They will be performing such an important duty for our county...investigating all complaints of animal abuse, cruelty and neglect.

Here's the number to call if you suspect an animal is being mistreated:

Here's a summary of our Q and A with Sgt. Gaynor and Detective Gardner:

Q: How are things going since the unit started up at the beginning of May?
A: It's been busy and consistent. Investigations are similar to any other investigation.
You’de be surprised how many witnesses step up.

Q:How many calls have you gotten?
A: To date we’ve investigated 23 cases. Some have been cleared. It's expected to increase over time as we are getting our phone number out.
We get cases from Animal Svcs., veterinarians, the States Atty, and citizens. In addition, sometimes we do our own research into one case that leads to other cases. Also when patrol officers see something that may involve neglect or cruelty, they call the Animal Abuse Team.
Q: Can you tell us about the complaints you are getting most?
A: It's too early to say what issues we’re dealing with more than others. It changes. It's getting hotter outside so we're getting more calls for animals left outside and left in vehicles.
Q: Can you say how many complaints you're getting from citizens?
A:  Ballpark 20-30
Sometimes people get in touch with us after calling 911 because 911 gives out the number.
Q: Have any cases been referred to the State's Attorney's office?
A: Several
Q:Do you refer cases to the Animal Hearing board?
A: No Animal Services does that. The police unit deals with criminal cases. Animal Services deals with civil cases. Civil cases go before the Animal Hearting Board. If we realize we have something that’s not criminal we send things over to Animal Services so they can deal with it civilly if necessary.
Q: Will there be ongoing efforts to increase public awareness of your unit through the school system in the county?
A: eventually that’s part of our initiative.
Q: How many people are in your unit?
A: There are 3 detectives, an Animal Service Officer from BCAS, and Sgt. Gaynor is supervisor. They anticipate their staff will grow.
Q: Are there any changes in the law that would be helpful to you?
A: It’s a little too early know. We’re still learning. We’re working with the States Atty. It would be a collaborative effort to determine that.
Q:Do you do cross reporting with agencies like social services and child welfare?
A: Throughout our investigation if we encounter another crminal act we would not ignore it. We reach out to other agencies.
Q:How is this kind of police investigation different from other different from other investigations?
A: It's not that much different other than working with different entities.
Q: What kind of training are you receiving to help you in this work?
A: We attended a county animal abuse seminar and we did some training at Days End Farm and we have other trainings scheduled.

6) Fred Homan and Gary Klunk Q and A
Here are the questions and answers from our Q and A with Fred Homan and Gary Klunk:
Q: We understand there is a new requirement for volunteers and all those who are not staff to obtain a key from the guard to use the bathroom? Why?
A: Approximately 30-40 times the toilet has been clogged with feminine products, paper towels, real towels anything anyone can shove down there, so the door will be locked. We think it’s intentional and possibly is being done by the Dept of Corrections workers. Now Dept of Corrections workers must be escorted one at a time.
Everyone must ask for a key
The next time the tiolet is clogged we will know who left it that way.
This is not punitive.
We have a unique situation...when the toilet backs up, it causes the back row of kennels to not be functional because the sewer line backs up into the kennels.

Q: what are you doing to inform your employees and others about Oscar's law?
A: Animal Service Officers (ASO's) are handing out literature about it on the street.

Q: Can you send us the flyer?
A: Yes.

Q: How are your workers enforcing the new law?
A: If an Animal Service Officer sees something suspect on the street, they report it to their supervisor.
If a citizen sees something and calls us, they can be transferred to the new police Animal Abuse Team and we give them the phone number.

Q: Is each complaint entered into your system?
A: Yes. We create a complaint and enter it into the system and it will say what the complaint was and where the call was transferred.

Q:If you call the phone number after hours and get a recording does it have the Animal Abuse Team phone number?
A: It gives the 2222 number which is the non emergency 911 line.
They would dispatch to the nearest police precinct.

Q: Is the unit open Monday thru Friday?
A: Yes.

Q: What do you do if you TNR a cat from someone's property and they don't want the cat back on their property?
A:  If people are complaining about the cats on their property we talk with them about how to keep them off their property. We give out deterrents to help them keep unwanted cats off their property. Our goal is to not only return the cat but to mediate the dispute between the neighbors.
We encourage people to allow us to TNR the cat and bring it back to their property.

We loan traps only if someone agrees to take the cat back. We have to have a signed consent to drop them off
If we trap a cat and the property owner doesn't want the cat back on their property, and 
if the cat has a healthy body weight we know someone has been feeding it. We walk the block and we’ll find out where the cat has been eating and return it to them. If we cant find the caretaker we have no right to release the animal on someone else’s property without their permission.
If there's no caretaker and no one wants it back, it could possibly go into the working cat program,
If we cant find a caretaker and a complainant doesn’t want cat back, the only other outcome is euthanasia.

Q: Do you release cats in areas other than where they were trapped?
We don’t relocate animals.
We get complaints about people leaving food out for cats in neighborhoods with rat issues. Cat food becomes rat food. Neighbors complain and call code enforcement who will issue citations and refer the issue to Animal Svcs
We will educate the person leaving the food out not to overfeed but to set out just enough food for that meal and take it back up when the cats are finished. These are best practices.

Q: If you can't release a cat where art was trapped, what's the maximum distance away that you will release it?
A:  id have to ask Rebecca what the distance is.  that we release cats from the trapping location
Q: Would you ask her?
If there is sequestered public prperty away from residnetial or from public activity
sometimes there are places away from residences and parks
it's rare
Q::How would there be a feeding source there?
They’re close enough to a caretaker.

Q: If TNR'd cats need minor medical treatment, do you provide it?
A: It depends on what you mean. If there are wounds of unknown origin, the  cat is euthanized because of the risk for rabies.
We will have to ask the Doctor about any other treatment they might receive.

Q: How long are cats kept after surgery?
A: Cats are trapped one day. We do surgery the next day.
Then they go home the day after surgery. 99.9% of cats are returned after one day.

Q: What about kittens under 6 weeks of age?
A: We encourage people to never separate a mother from its kittens and allow the mother to nurse till 12 weeks of age.
When we get motherless kittens, they go into foster to be bottle fed and foster parent either adopts or has found someone to adopt. We encourage you to take ownership of the outcome of the cat
A mother can be TNR’d and returned to the have to bottle feed the kittens in the interim.

Q: Do you log kittens into your system?
A: Absolutely the mother gets named and the kittens are named.

Q: Are unadoptable litters of kittens euthanized?
A: If there’s no other option.

Q: Do you ever keep friendly cats that come in through the TNR program and put them up for adoption?
A: Never.
Q: Even if there are cages available in the adoption room?
A: Even if there are cages available, the cats go back out and are never put up for adoption.
If the cat came from outside, it goes back outside.

Q: Tell us about the working cat program.
A: It was formed this year. Rebecca Sass-Crews is in charge of it.
This is for commercial places that want rodent control, barns, warehouses. We are unable to provide as many cats as are being requested for this, there’s been so much demand.
It has to be a unique cat and has to have no other possible outcome.
Two of these cats have been placed at the Ag Center.
Becky makes that decision.

Q:Do you take steps to transition them to this environment?
A: Yes.
They’re crated or kept in a small enclosed area for two weeks in the new environment and we give information on how to adapt the cats.

Q:Do you place kittens in barns?
Will you check on that please?

Q: How many have been placed in all?
A: Gary will let us know how many have been placed.

Q: Tell us about Team Shelter USA which provided the 2018 Progress Report on BCAS.
A: The Doctor from Target Zero (Dr. Sara Pizano) spun out on her own. We asked her to come back and look at what we’ve done.
Target Zero is no longer functional.


Q; How much did you pay to have this assessment performed"
A: We think it was 11 or 12 thousand dollars.
Q: Will you check that?
A: Yes.

Q: What is your relationship with Carroll County Humane?
A: We have a couple layers of relationships. They are pulling cats from us.
They are pulling adoptable cats like the SPCA does, etc.
Q: Do they ever take all of the cats in the adoptable room?
A: Sure.
Q: But then you won't have cats available for adoption?
A: Every day we release a new population into the adoptable room.
Q: What does Carroll County do with the cats they pull?
A: We don't know what they do with them.
Q: How many cats do they take?
A: Ballpark 20-25 a month.
Q: Can we get those stats?
A: Yes.

Q: What are the job responsibilities of animal Service officers now that the police have taken over cruelty investigations?
A: Nothing has changed...they are still doing welfare checks, bite issues, etc.

7) Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Time-The next Commission meeting will be held July 17 at 6:30 PM in the usual location on the third floor of the Drumcastle Bldg.
8) Adjourn

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 15, 2018 meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

    The most recent meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission took place in the wake of the shocking and tragic passing of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
    All of the Commission members expressed their sadness and concern for the County Executive's family. We extend our most sincere condolences to them and to all those in County government at this difficult time. 
    Kevin Kamenetz accomplished many things during his tenure as County Executive. One of them was the building of a new animal shelter and a shift toward modern ways of thinking in animal sheltering in Baltimore County. As a Commission devoted to Animal Services, we are grateful for his leadership in this area. 
    This will surely be a difficult time of transition in county government as a result of his passing. We wish all those working in our county the best as they move forward.

Here is a summary of the May 15, 2018 meeting of the Commission:
                                    May 15, 2018 
                 Baltimore County Animal Services 
                            Advisory Commission

1.      Call to Order 
2.      Roll Call-Certification of a Quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Joy Friedman, Janice Vincent, Ann Gearhart, Larry Townsend, and Jon Christiana (by phone)
3.      Approval of Minutes-Here are the minutes from the April meeting as approved:

April 17, 2018

The twenty-eighth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, April 17, 2018 in the Main Conference Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:05 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Maryanne Bailey, Joy Freedman, Roy Plummer, Larry Townsend, Janice Vincent and Julianne Zimmer. Guests that attended were: Candidates for County Executive (Senator Jim Brochin and Johnny Olszewski, Jr.), Gary Klunk, Assistant Director for Animal Services, and Baltimore County Administrative Officer Fred Homan.


Minutes from the March 27, 2018 meeting were motioned and approved as submitted.

Motioned by: Julianne Zimmer
Second by: Janice Vincent
Decision: Approved 

Minutes from the February 20, 2018 meeting were motioned and approved with correction.

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

County Executive Candidates
Senator Jim Brochin spoke first. He has worked with constituents on several animal legislative issues, including puppy mill legislation and tethering laws. Senator Brochin thinks that the Department of Health should not be in charge of Baltimore County Animal Services but be decentralized with an oversight committee or advisory board. He believes that Animal Services and the Animal Shelter should be separate. When animal issues arise, they should be dealt with as soon as possible and be transparent. He says he would be open to an audit of Baltimore County Animal Services and it could be number one on his agenda on December 8th.

Johnny Olszewski, Jr. spoke next. He was a lead sponsor in legislation to create pet trusts where people could set up trusts to care for their animal(s) after they die. He says he wants to partner with the Commission and other animal advocates.  He wants to encourage an environment where volunteers are welcome at BCAS seven days a week. He would like to build on progress that has already taken place. He has no current position on whether Animal Control and the shelter should be separated but promised the decision would be based on feedback from the Commission and other advocates and believes there should be meaningful citizen input and oversight on all the County would do including BCAS. Transparency is key.

Police Animal Abuse Unit
This Unit is not up and running yet but Ms. Stone-Hess spoke with Capt. Mike Cortes who will be leading the unit and he said he hopes to have it going by the beginning of May.

Quarterly Statistics
Quarterly statistics were presented and discussed. All of these statistics can be found on the April post of

Fred Homan/Gary Klunk Q and A
The Commission asked numerous questions of the County Administrator and Gary Klunk. More information can be found on this Q and A on the April post of

New Commission Member
Larry Townsend will be attending in place of Jean Townsend, VMD. 

Administrative Appointment
The Administration had chosen a new member for the Commission but may need to find someone else due to schedule difficulties for the person that has been appointed.

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location 
May 15, 2018 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room

Motion to adjourn

Motion by: Joy Freedman
Second by: Julianne Zimmer
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

4.      Old Business;
a.       Jean Townsend’s replacement-Larry Townsend-Jean Townsend unfortunately had to resign from the Commission for health reasons. Jean was an appointee of Councilman Wade Kach. Councilman Kach has appointed Jean's husband, Larry to be her replacement. We welcome him!
b.      Administrative Appointment-The Administration has named a new at large appointee to the Commission. His name is Gerald Brooks. We don't have any other information at this time., We hope he will be attending our next meeting. 
c.       Interviews with Candidates for Baltimore County Executive (no support by the commission for any particular candidate)-
Since our last meeting, County Council Chair Julian Jones sent a letter to Deborah Stone Hess as Chair expressing concern about the Commission's efforts to learn more about the County Executive candidates' views on Animal Services. The concern was that the Commission might be planning to issue an endorsement of a candidate. The recommendation was that we not engage in any political activity.
Deborah responded with a letter assuring County Council Chair Jones that the Commission has no intention of supporting or endorsing any candidate and was not engaging in political activity, but rather attempting to learn about the candidates' views and simply share them with those on the Commission and those who read this blog. 
Deborah spoke with County Councilwoman Vicki Almond about this issue and asked her if it would be acceptable to merely interview the remaining candidates by phone and report on their responses. Councilwoman Almond seemed to think that was a good compromise and Deborah explained in her letter to Council Chair Jones that the Commission would do that going forward.
Jon Christiana will attempt to reach candidate Tony SOlesky and Janice Vincent will reach out to Kevin Marron and Vicki Almond.
Janice Vincent had already spoken with candidate Al Redmer who provided his answers to our questions. Here they are:

Question: How much do you know or understand about the operations of BCAS?
Answer:I understand the operations at a very high level, but would like to learn more. 
Question: Have you ever worked on animal legislation or animal issues in the past?
Answer: As a member of the House of Delegates, I was the sponsor of legislation that regulated the sale and distribution of ferrets. The legislation was to protect them from being sold at an age that was too young.
Question:  Do you have any plans for change at Baltimore County Animal Services?
Answer: No.
Question: Should Animal Control and the shelter be operated separately?
Answer:I don't know enough about the issue.
Question: Should both or one of them remain under the jurisdiction of the Health Department?
Answer:I don't know enough about the issue.
Question: Should there be an oversight committee for BCAS?
Answer:While I don't know enough about the issue, however, having spent decades leading organizations in both the public and private sector, I always insist on operations that are open, transparent, and collaborate.
5.      New Business
a.       Police unit Update The new Baltimore County Police Animal Abuse unit     
Captain Mike Cortes, 410-887-2150
Lieutenant Matt Smith 410-887-2162

their direct number:

I spoke w/ Lt. Smith who sounds very enthusiastic about the work this unit is doing. 
The police unit was up and running May 1st

They are taking all calls for cruelty and neglect. Some things still go to animal services like cases involving wild animals.

Dispatch comes thru the Police Dept

Officers must fill out a report even if the claim is unfounded

The team is extremely busy…they’ve had way more cases than anticipated.

If a case appears well founded, after investigation they present the case to the States Atty and the States Atty takes care of charging suspects  

The unit is made up of Lt. Smith, Sgt. Sundia Gaynor,  three detectives and someone who was an ACO at BCAS for 5 years named Alan Kolbicki. 

How do they get cases referred to them?
1) about 1/3 of the cases come 911
2) about 1/3 of cases come thru the animal services Officer Kolbicki who is sending everything and anything over to them that they think may involve abuse or cruelty
3) about 1/3 of referrals come through vet offices because last year the general assembly passed a bill requiring veterinarians to report suspected cases of cruelty so reports come thru Pet ER and other vets

They attended a one day training conducted by April Doherty and Adam Lippe of the State’s Atty’s office

b. No posting on Facebook or other social media-Deborah reiterated past concern over the posting of anything that could be deemed controversial about BCAS on social media.
6.      Next Meeting Date, Time and Location-June 19, 2018 at Drumcastle Bldg. 6:30 pm 
7.      Adjourn

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 17, 2018 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

This meeting was chock-full of information.
Here's a summary:

April 17, 2018

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call – Determination of a Quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Joy Freedman, Julianne Zimmer, Janice Vincent, Roy Plummer, Maryanne Bailey, Larry Townsend
III. Approval of March Minutes-Here are the minutes as approved:

IV. Change to February Minutes-There was a sentence in the February minutes we approved that should not have been there. The sentence was removed after the March meeting. This was a vote to approve the removal of the extraneous sentence.

V. County Executive Candidate Q and A-The Commission has invited all candidates for the County Executive seat to come to a Commission meeting to answer questions about their views and plans concerning Animal Services. At this meeting, Democratic Senator Jim Brochin and Democrat John Olsziewski, Jr. attended.

a. Here is a summary of the remarks by Sen. Jim Brochin who is currently serving in his 4th term in the Maryland State Senate, representing Maryland's District 42 in Baltimore County.
Brochin said he has supported a wide array of legislation concerning animals like puppy mill legislation and tethering laws.
     His understanding of issues that are important concerning BCAS is that volunteers need to feel they are wanted and needed which he says is not happening now.
     He believes the shelter should not be micromanaged by Towson but rather decentralized and managed by a corps of committed volunteers and specialists that make up an oversight committee or advisory board. In his opinion, the less micromanaging the better. 
     He says he thinks we should decentralize it under a corps of committed volunteers and specialists that make up an oversight committee or advisory board and says the less micromanaging the better.
     He believes the shelter should be run by the county with citizen oversight where citizens make up the majority of those making decisions about the animals. 
     In speaking about the events concerning Oscar, the dog that froze to death in December 2017, he said he believes the situation could have been handled a lot better internally and gotten a better result with a lot more transparency which was lacking.
     In answering a question about whether the shelter and Animal Control should be operated separately, he said yes and doesn't think they should remain under the Health Dept. because he says he doesn't know what the Health Dept. has to do with issues involving BCAS.
     He says if he is elected he would plan to sit down with members of the Animal Svcs. Advisory Commission to figure out a structure, and would support an oversight committee of committed volunteers and specialists in the field.
     He says he has a strong belief in transparency, and that when issues come up they should be out on the table for discussion. He says otherwise, you lose the confidence of the people.
He said when problems occur, everybody who’s involved in decision-making from the County Executive’s Chief of Staff on down should sit down, go thru the issue and goes thru different areas where we may have failed, get an action plan to move forward, and get buy in from everybody.
     He promises to stay transparent and open
     When asked whether he would be open to an audit of animal services, he said yes and that could be number one agenda item.

b. Here is a summary of the comments made by democrat John Olsziewski, Jr who is a former teacher and also spent nine years representing eastern Baltimore County in the House of Delegates.
     He says he is interested in making Balto County govt open and accessible and that he and his team want to partner with the Commission and other animal advocates.
     In his time in the General Assembly he says he promoted spay/neuter programs, helped go after puppy mills, was lead sponsor of legislation that created pet trusts for older ppl who wanted to leave a trust to care for their pets after they died.
     His dog is a rescue.
     He wants to encourage an environment where volunteers are welcome seven days a week.
     Looking beyond sheltering he would like to create programs partnering in the community, 
making more animal friendly spaces, investing more in dog parks and building on the progress of what’s been done.
     He does not yet have a position on whether the operation of the shelter and Animal Control should be separated but promised the decision will be based on feedback from the Commission and other advocates.and believes we should have meaningful citizen input and oversight on all we do including with BCAS.
     He believes strongly in transparency saying it’s important that people have confidence in the decisions made and the best way to do that is to be transparent.

VI. New Commission Member-Deborah somehow forgot to introduce the Commission's newest member. This was.a major oversight that will be corrected at the next meeting. Our newest Commission member is Larry Townsend who is the husband of former Commission member, Veterinarian Jean Townsend. We are thrilled to have him on the Commission! And we wish Jean the best.

VII. Administrative Appointment-The Administration had made an appointment to replace Jamie DeRita Rodriguez, but it is unclear whether that appointment may have to be changed.

VIII. New Shelter Adoption and Volunteer Hours-As many people have heard, BCAS plans to expand its adoption schedule to 7 days a week. This is something the Commission has advocated since its inception. We are thrilled to see this change which is scheduled to go into effect in September.

IX. Oscar’s Law-Julianne Zimmer and Joy Freedman discussed the Baltimore County Council's April 16th  passage of Oscar's Law which outlaws leaving pets outdoors for extended periods of time in extreme temperatures. It's hoped that this law will help prevent the death of other animals like Oscar. 

X. Police Animal Abuse Unit-The unit is not operational yet. Deborah spoke with Police Captain Mike Cortes who will be leading the unit who said he hopes to have it up and running by May 1st. Once the unit is operational, the Commission will ask representatives from the unit to come speak to Commission members to explain their mission and how they will carry it out.

XI. Quarterly Statistics-Here are BCAS statistics from the first quarter of 2018:

            1ST QUARTER 2018 STATS SUMMARY

DOGS         CATS
439            568

89 (20%)        32 (5.6%)

118 (26.8%)     152 (26.7%)


19 (4.3%)     49 (8.6%)

95.7%         91.4%

Here is a comparison of 1st quarter 2017 stats with 1st quarter 2018 stats:


INTAKE 2018         INTAKE 2017
DOGS: 439                                                                    491
CATS: 568                                                                    709

ADOPTION 2018                   ADOPTION 2017
DOGS: 89 (20.2%)                                                   138 (28%)            
CATS: 132 (23%)                                                     137 (19%)

RESCUE 2018             RESCUE 2017
DOGS: 118 (26.8%)                                                141  (28.7%)              
CATS: 152 (26.7%)                                                 225 (31.7%)

TNR 2018                         TNR 2017
144                                                                                     236

DOGS: 19 (4.3%)                                                             33 (6.7%)                                                   
CATS: 49 (8.6%)                56 (7.8%)

XII. Fred Homan/Gary Klunk Q and A-After Oscar died, Fred Homan terminated the Commission's monthly liaison committee meetings at the shelter. So, this was the first opportunity the Commission has had to ask questions since the Oscar incident. 

Here is a summary of the Q and A with Fred Homan and Gary Klunk:
1) Will you commit to coming to every Commission meeting to answer questions?
Fred: yes.

2) Why were Liaison Committee meetings terminated?
     Fred said that it was because it was clear the liaison committee wanted to ask about Oscar and he is not at liberty to discuss anything concerning the Oscar case because it involves criminal charges. In addition, several BCAS employees have been subpoenaed. 
Commission members said it would have been helpful if he had shared this information with the liaison committee prior to this. 
     Fred gave no indication as to why he would not allow liaison committee meetings to discuss issues other than the Oscar case. He said only that he thought it would be better to meet with the whole Commission to answer questions.
     The Commission has maintained that this was a punitive action after the Commission raised questions about the county's handling of the case. The Commission has requested the resumption of liaison committee meetings numerous times and have been refused. 

3) Who wrote the initial statement that said Oscar had died of natural causes and there had been no wrongdoing in his death?
     Fred did not answer that question but said those who wrote it felt it was justified at the time.
In an apparent effort to indicate why they felt it was justified, Fred indicated that the necropsy report said the cause of Oscar's death was undetermined, and that there was no microscopic evidence of frostbite, but that the doctor who solicited the necropsy gave her opinion that the cause of death was hypothermia. Fred promised to send us the full report.  

4) Animal Control received 22 complaints from citizens concerned about Oscar since 2009. Did Animal Control visit the home every time it received one of those complaints and was Oscar's owner ever given a citation by Animal Control?
     Fred said no to both questions. The Commission asked how many times Animal Control had actually visited the home? Fred did not know but said typically when numerous repeated complaints come in about one address, Animal Control might visit the first several times, then maybe one out of every three or four times. The Commission will request documents showing how many times the county did respond to complaints by actually visiting the address.

5) The day Oscar died, when a citizen called to complain out of concern for the dog, no Animal Control officer went to the address. Instead, Oscar's owner was called. Is this common protocol?      
     Fred said he couldn't say specifically but that Animal Control does receive repeated calls to the same address on many occasions and they do develop familiarity with dog owners involved. He said it's up to the discretion of the individual assigned at the time whether to visit or call. 

6) Oscar was in poor physical condition and was not even up to date on his rabies vaccinations. Did Animal Control handle this case properly in retrospect?
     Fred said he didn't know if the protocol would be to ask if a rabies vaccination was up to date. 
Several Commission members suggested it would seem to be a good idea to do so since the county is so concerned with rabies vaccinations and regularly offers rabies clinics. It would seem to be the perfect opportunity to provide information about these clinics.

7) Why was no officer sent the day that Oscar died.
     Fred refused to talk about it.

8) Who makes the call as to whether an officer is sent when a complaint comes in?
Apparently it depends on the time of day that calls come in, there's an officer on call every night, the officer picks up the call and makes the judgement call as to whether to respond in person. 

9) How many Animal Control Officers are on the street at any given time?
 Monday through Friday,...usually 4-6, weekends there are 2 during the day, on holidays just one. There is an officer on call every night.

10) Doesn't your system indicate whether a dog about which you receive a call is licensed? 
Fred said he didn't know the answer to that.
      He said the county's goal is to increase the number of animals that are vaccinated against rabies and talked about the success of the county's rabies clinics. He lamented that he had not been successful in getting legislation that would have required veterinarians to report to the county which pets were vaccinated and which were not. 
Some on the Commission questioned when an Animal Control officer gets a complaint, why wouldn't the officer ask a pet owner whether the animal is vaccinated against rabies? 
The county appears to be adverse to the idea of issuing citations because the county has no recourse if a citizen does not pay a fine associated with the citation. 
Joy Freedman said that in the city there is followup and enforcement when animals are found to be unlicensed and not up to date on rabies vaccinations. She said she hoped there would be some way to enforce county codes and said that often in the city some of these minor code violation followups have led authorities to learn about fighting rings and other major crimes.
Fred said the county tries to focus on dangerous and menacing animals and that fees are not an ideal way to get people to comply with the law. 

11) Fred answered questions concerning the new Police Animal Anti-Abuse unit.
He said plans for this had been in the works for some time. He said the unit was created to streamline communication in cases involving animal abuse. He said that he sees BCAS's mission as more about adoption and TNR than a public safety organization.
He said the plan now is for the Animal Abuse unit to include four officers and one civilian...that it will be up to the abuse unit to determine when to work with the State's Attorney's office to pursue an investigation. 
Animal Services and the Health Department have a public health role and that role does not include enforcement activities. The Police Dept. and State's Attorney work together on law enforcement and that's why they created the unit.

12) There was supposedly another dog owned by Oscar's owner. Where is the other dog? Could it be in danger?
Fred said the only thing he remembered is that when investigators arrived there was not another dog in the yard. He said it's believed the other dog liked to stay inside while Oscar liked to be outside.

13) What is BCAS’s relationship with the Animal Abuse unit of the State’s Atty’s office?
     Fred: Yes, there's a relationship. Three years ago when Dr. Jones was hired, the county had too many animals held at our facility unable to get out (presumably he was referring to animals being held as evidence in abuse and neglect cases) and the State's Attorney forced us to do that. We made everyone aware we were going to follow the law. It made no sense to hold the animal as evidence. We move them out (through adoption and rescue) as long as there is not a replevin filed. (A replevin is an action by the owner requesting that the animal be returned to them.)  

14) Without talking about the Oscar case itself, can you understand why the community was upset by what they were told and hearing the full story-do you understand that concern? Do you feel there’s a responsibility to be transparent to the extent that people believe that 22 calls means 22 violations?
Fred:I  understand that. Its impossible to explain to the public in all the areas the county is involved when the county investigates a situation and finds what we found. Our history was not a problem with the owner. How would we communicate there had been no problem?
I understand it. I understand how that would be a concern given the ultimate situation.

15) The necropsy on Oscar was performed at Tufts University. Fred says the State's Attorney is working with the Animal Abuse unit to find a pathologist locally that can perform necropsies.

16) Why is the police anti-abuse unit being created?
Fred: We believe that a criminal investigation is more appropriately conducted by police working with the State's Attorney. It's what they do with other criminal activity. We see ourtselves as a public entity not as a criminal justice entity.
Menacing and dangerous dogs will continue to be handled by BCAS.

17) A couple of months ago there was a plumbing problem. Why weren't volunteers allowed to use working restrooms?
Gary Klunk: That's an area of the building where volunteers don't have access. That's why. 
It was a secure portion of the building. There are 75 vols. 
Gary said he would not be responsible for escorting 75 volunteers to the other part of the building to use the restroom.
Many on the Commission said clearly 75 volunteers are never at the shelter at once, and asked asked how many volunteers are in the building at any given time? Gary said he didn't know.
Fred: We had a serious plumbing issue in the building. we have spent a lot of money to resolve that matter. 
He added that there were also problems with the bathrooms in the secure part of the facility and when that happened even the employees had to leave the building to use restroom facilities and Gary said within a day of that there was a port a potty on site.

18) How will the new police animal unit receive calls? They will come thru 911 and also through a direct line to the unit.

19) Will the unit work directly with the States Attorney's office? Yes.

20) Fred seemed to indicate that in abuse and neglect cases, as long as owners don't file a replevin action to gt their animal back, animals will not be kept at the shelter but will rather go to rescue or adopters as soon as BCAS takes photos to document injuries, etc. and then nurse the animal back to health.

21) How long does it take for Animal Control to respond in a complaint about neglect? Deborah mentioned she knows someone in her neighborhood who called BCAS several weeks before about a neighbor who left her dog out in the cold rain all night and this woman took the dog in till morning, apparently trying to reach her neighbor by home phone and cell several times that night with no success. She called BCAS and she never received any indication that they responded. According to Fred and Gary, she must fill out an affidavit to complain about the issue before Animal Control will respond. 
A few days after the meeting, Deborah sent detailed info on this case to Fred and Gary. Gary responded with an email that said an officer did respond and he attached the officer's report which said that upon arrival, the officer left a note and a copy of the laws on the front door. The officer later received a phone call from the occupant of the home who advised that her dog got out by accident and she never stays out for any length of time.The occupant was also told she needed to license her dog.
The officer never talked to the complainant.

22) Do all Animal Control officers attend training at the East Coast Training Academy? No. Some have. But the main training they get is by riding with other ACO's for 2-4 months.

23) Is there ongoing training for officers? Yes. Gary said he had recently gone with three officers to a training in Anne Arundel County on the use of asp batons.

24) How many employees are there at BCAS? 
     Answer: 59. Everyone is now cross trained. They work one month in the shelter and one month in the field. Two shelter attendants have opted not to participate in cross-training. Every employee is now an Animal Service Officer (ASO)
Fred said this was done in part to give everyone an understanding and respect for others' jobs. 

25) A request was made for the budget for BCAS. Fred said he would send it.

26) A request was made for a chart listing the salaiures of those who work for BCAS. Fred said he would send it.

27) A request was made for BCAS Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's). Fred said he would send them. 

28) What happened with the plan to seek a change in county laws to make it easier to seize animals deemed dangerous until their owners comply with necessary corrective steps? That has not happened yet. The timing was deemed not right to move forward with this.
It is still under discussion as to how and when to move forward.

29) How long will BCAS keep animals' bodies in its freezer in cases under investigation?
Fred: It's impractical to do this if you're going to preserve a chain of evidence in an investigation. He said employees go in and out of the freezer and there's a possibility that something could happen that shouldn't happen. The Animal Abuse unit is working this out.

30) In a recent case, Animal Control was called by a citizen who believed a neighbor had thrown the body of his dog into the woods. She was told by BCAS to drag the body to the road side. Is this common practice? Yes.

XIII. Next Meeting Date and Location
a. Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.
b. 6401 York Road, Third floor Main Conference room, Baltimore, MD 21212
XIV. Adjournment

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Baltimore County Animal Svcs. Advisory Commission March 27, 2018 meeting

Here's what happened at our March 27, 2018 meeting

March 20, 2018

I. Call to Order
II. Roll Call – Determination of a Quorum-Attending were Deborah Stone Hess, Roy Plummer, Janice Vincent, Ann Gearhart, Jon Christiana, Joy Freedman, Julianne Zimmer, and Maryann Bailey (by phone)

III. Approval of February Minutes
Here are the minutes as approved:
February 20, 2018
The twenty-sixth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, February 20, 2018 in the Main Conference Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:35 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Maryanne Bailey, Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Janice Vincent and Julianne Zimmer. 
Minutes from the January 16, 2018 meeting were motioned and approved as submitted.

Motion – 
Motioned by: Ann Gearhart
Second by:  Julianne Zimmer
Decision: Approved

Update on Members
Councilman Jones has yet to assign a new person to replace Lavigna Ringgold. Councilman Kach has been notified that Jean Townsend may need to be replaced due to health issues. 

Jamie DeRita-Rodriguez has not attended a meeting in some time and Deborah has been unable to reach her. She is an administrative appointment and Deborah has contacted the county Administration to notify them she needs to be replaced.

Oscar Update
The State’s Attorney’s office is still investigating. The necropsy results have not been released.

Julianne and Joy have been talking with council members about possible changes in county code to deal with the issue of animals left outside in inclement weather. . Julianne talked about the vagueness of Article 12 in the County Code. Joy & Julianne are in process of helping to create legislation. Parts will mirror PA’s Libra law and part will mimic Baltimore City’s code in regards to need of dog houses to be elevated, national weather advisory and access doors. Joy and Julianne’s proposal, which was submitted under ReLove, was sent to David Marks’ office for review. There is a meeting scheduled next Tuesday with Councilmembers David Marks and Tom Quirk to discuss this legislation. 

Question for the County Administrator: Is it a requirement for Baltimore County ACO’s to attend the Maryland ACO academy?  At the Shelter, they are taking shelter workers and front staff and Animal Control Officers and are cross-training. This will help them understand each other. Animal Control Officers are specifically trained and this cross-training is taking them off of the road.

General Update

The County Administrator has halted the Liaison Committee meetings and now wants all questions in writing. Deborah met today with Don Mohler, wanting to know whether he can intercede to see if liaison committee meetings can resume. He promised to look ito this and get back to her.

New Committees

Clear communication is needed between Animal Services, the State’s Attorney’s Office, and the police department. There is a police officer within each precinct to investigate animal issues/complaints.

A new committee made up of Maryanne Bailey and Ann Gearhart will look into communication in other jurisdictions between the State’s Attorney’s Office, the police department and Animal Services. Baltimore City has an Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission that works well with the health department and the police department. It was suggested it would be helpful to have a police officer on the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission. 

Deb would like to invite those running for County Executive to speak to the commission about their views on Animal Services. . Janice to contact and invite them.  The commission will create questions and present them to the candidates in advance. They would only need to talk for 10 minutes or so to answer the questions. Deborah, Joy and Julianne will devise questions, send them to the candidates, and will invite them to the March, April or May meetings in advance of the primary in June. Those who cannot attend a Commission meeting can answer the questions in writing.

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location 
March 20, 2018 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room

Motion to adjourn
Motion by: Joy Freedman
Second by: Maryanne Bailey
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

IV. Old Business
a. Update on Commission Member Appointments
 Councilman Jones has not named a replacement for Lavinia Ringgold. Jean Townsend is still recovering aud we don't know if she will be returning.  
i. New member – Mr. Bradley Organ-The Administration has named a replacement for Jamie Derita Rodriguez. His name is Bradley Organ. He could not attend tonight but should be at our next meeting.
b. Invitations to candidates-The Commission has invited all candidates running to fill the County Executive seat to come to a Commission meeting and talk about their plans for Animal Services.
Delegate Pat McDonough came to this meeting. Here are the questions asked of him and a summary of his responses:
1) How much do you know or understand about the operations of BCAS? He said he knew very little but he loves animals and has always been a supporter of animal welfare legislation in his years as a Delegate in Annapolis.
2) Do you have any plans for change in Baltimore County Animal Svcs? Not at this time...he said he needs to learn more about it but has a fixed commitment to protecting animals. 
4) Should Animal Control and the shelter be operated separately? He said he didn't know enough about this subject and would have to look at that.
He said part of his philosophy as a candidate is to have no special interests and no special agendas....that he is committed to putting people of the county first.
5)  Should there be an oversight committee for BCAS?  He said.that he would take a serious look at that. He promised to have the shelter open on Sundays as well.

c. Oscar Update-As we now know, a necropsy showed that Oscar died of hypothermia,. In addition he was found to be malnourished and suffering from muscle wasting. The Baltimore County State's Attorney's office has filed charges against Oscar's owner. The Commission continues to push for answers to many unanswered questions. See UPDATE ON LIAISON COMMITTEE MEETINGS BELOW

d. Oscar’s Law – Julianne and Joy have been working with Councilmen Marks and Quirk to create legislation to protect animals that are left outside in hopes that there will be no more incidents like the one involving Oscar. The legislation will be presented at the next County Council meeting.
V. New Business
a. New Police Unit-The Country Executive sent out a press release saying the county is creating a dedicated animal abuse unit in the Baltimore County Police Department that will be comprised of a police sergeant, a police officer and three civilian investigators. It should be up and running by the end of March. We know very little about it but will surely have more information by the April meeting. This appears to be a very positive move.
b. Committee Reports –Ann Gearhart looked into relationships between State's Attorney offices, Animal Control and police departments in other jurisdictions and found a wide range of cooperation depending on jurisdiction. 
c. Update on Liaison Committee Meetings-The Commission had been promised that Gary Klunk and Fred Homan would attend this meeting but Deborah received an email Monday saying that Fred Homan was too busy with budget matters to attend. Deborah sent an email to Don Mohler saying this was unacceptable and that it needed to be resolved this week or the Commission would go to the County Council for help with this matter. Don Mohler called Deborah Tuesday afternoon and said the County Executive had gotten involved and met with Fred. But he believed Fred was too overwhelmed with working on the budget to attend and that he would definitely attend the April meeting. Deborah explained that in that case, we need to resume Liaison Committee meetings which were terminated by Fred Homan. Don Mohler promised to work on this and we will keep everyone updated on the progress made concerning this issue.
Many questions need to be asked and answered about the Oscar case and the county response.
d. Next Commission Annual Report-The Commission's next annual report is due in July. We will begin planning for that at the April meeting.
VI. Next Commission Meeting
a. Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 6:30 p.m.
b. 6401 York Road, Third floor Main Conference room, Baltimore, MD 21212
VII. Adjournment