Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Feb. 21, 2017 Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission Meeting

Hello! Here's a summary of the Commission's meeting on Feb. 21, 2017

                             ADVISORY COMMISSION
                          AGENDA FOR FEB. 21, 2017

1) Call to Order
2) Roll Call-Determination of a quorum
In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Roy Plummer, Joy Freedman, Dr. Jean Townsend, Julianne Zimmer, Jon Christiana, and Jamie DeRita-Rodriguez
3) Approval of minutes
Here are the minutes as approved:
Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission Minutes

The fifteenth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, January 17, 2017 in the Executive Conference Room on the second floor of the Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212. The meeting was called to order at 6:38 p.m.

BOARD MEMBERS PRESENT: Chair, Deborah Stone-Hess, Jamie DeRita-Rodriguez, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer (by phone), Lavinia Ringgold, Jean Townsend, VMD, and Julianne Zimmer.

MEMBERS ABSENT: Jon Christiana, Joy Freedman, Janice Vincent

I. Reading and Approval of the Minutes

Motion: To approve the minutes of November 15, 2016, as presented.

Motion by: Ann Gearhart
Second by: Jean Townsend, VMD
Decision: Unanimous Approval

II. Old Business

Adopt Till You Drop

On November 19th, 181 adoptions occurred at the mega adoption event that was held at White Marsh Mall. The event was very organized and the BCAS volunteer coordinator, Heidi Griswold, did an amazing job. This was the second mega adoption event and a third is scheduled for June 10, 2017, at the Timonium Fairgrounds. BARCS has applied for a grant through PETCO, which will help with the cost of having the event at Timonium Fairgrounds.

III. New Business

Commission Member Changes

As of December 31, 2017, Leslie Kaminski’s commission term expired and Michelle Guarino resigned.

The County Executive appointed Jamie DeRita-Rodriguez to complete Leslie Kaminski’s term.

Fourth Quarter Statistics

Fourth Quarter Statistics were distributed. Intake was substantially higher than during the 4th quarter of 2015, and the number of dogs that went to rescue were up for the fourth quarter over the 3rd quarter and euthanasia numbers were down for cats. (See attached)

Summary of Liaison Committee Meeting

Currently there are 70 active volunteers at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter (BCAS). There is a comradery between the volunteers and employees. Heidi Griswold, volunteer coordinator, sends information   on a regular basis to the volunteers. The Facebook page for BCAS Volunteers is on point. The training class with Will Webster went well and more training classes will be offered in the future.

As discussed at a previous Commission meeting, Baltimore County is working with a group called Foxy G, which is a horse rescue organization in Carroll County, to build a facility with an arena to work with veterans that have PTSD. Now, the expected State funding is not going to happen but the project is expected to move forward without it.

When there are space issues for animals that are rescue only, even if there is room in the adoptable area, they will not be moved there. All animals in the adoptable area must be those that can be walked by volunteers and introduced to possible adopters.  That said, even after final rescue pleas go out, the shelter does not euthanize right away. The goal is to avoid euthanasia whenever possible.

The West Side Spay/Neuter Clinic is open. The County is trying to reach out to people about the services through community associations. There was recently a large flyer distribution in the zip code areas that are offered free services through a state grant.

BCAS performed 177 Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) procedures in the last quarter of 2016. There are some difficulties with colonies on business property. Unless the property owner agrees to the cats being returned, BCAS is unable to put traps out.

1) Baltimore County is moving forward with re-writing the county code dealing with dangerous and menacing dogs.  This is an issue of semantics…and very often there’s little or no distinction between whether a dog is categorized as menacing or dangerous. If it’s determined to be menacing, there is just a $500 fine, and the county cannot take any other action to prevent another incident. Once a dog is deemed dangerous, the county has ability to seize the animal or take it to BCAS until the owner takes corrective action.
The wording change would eliminate the “menacing” category to give the county more ability to prevent aggressive dogs from harming other dogs or people.

There is a bill being introduced to the General Assembly that would require veterinarians to provide rabies vaccination data to their local jurisdiction. Jean mentioned that animal owners would object to this because it would cause owners to reveal the number of animals they have. The state believes that veterinarians would object to this because more paperwork and record keeping is involved.

A technical writer has finished writing the shelter’s Standard Operating Procedures (S.O.P.’s). They are still in review. The county has asked the Liaison Committee to review them and provide feedback.

Opening of General Assembly – Upcoming Legislation – Statewide Oversight Bill

During the upcoming session of the General Assembly, the ASPCA will be supporting several different bills, one of which would provide for state oversight of all shelters in MD.

How You Can Make a Difference in Legislation

Your voice matters…call and write your legislators.


New commission member Jamie DeRita-Rodriguez was introduced. She formerly worked at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter and now works at Johns Hopkins.

Ann plans on speaking with the new police chief about the possibility of having the Baltimore County Police Department trained with animals. Ann also spoke with Dr. Jones about posters that she has for people to sign saying that they take animal abuse seriously. She would like to have them put up at the fairgrounds for the June 10th event.

IV. Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 21st at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, on the Third Floor in the Main Conference Room at 6:30 pm.

V. Adjournment

Motion to Adjourn: Ann Gearhart
Second motion: Lavinia Ringgold
Decision: Unanimous Approval

Meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

4) New Business
a) Volunteer Update
Volunteer Program Update

When you first become a volunteer you have to go through an orientation with basic information. Once you complete orientation, you request your first training day when you will have one half hour to one hour training session about the area you are interested in.

Some of the areas volunteers can choose are:

Working with dogs or cats
Tour Guide (leading shelter visitors through the shelter)
Off-site counselor for off-site events
Groomer (can just involve bathing dogs-not major grooming)
Photographer and/or videographer for Facebook page and website

If the volunteer chooses to work with cats or dogs, they can become:

Cat Cadet (beginning position)
Cat Captain (more advanced)
Canine Cadet (beginning position)
Canine Captain (more advanced)

Dot System for Volunteers

Dots of different colors go on your name badge showing the level of training that you have accomplished and whether you have been trained for cats, dogs or both.

Green dots are for beginner levels. These are the volunteers that are starting with the easy to handle dogs and cats. For dogs, you would learn how to teach and practice ‘sit’ and ‘no jumping’ commands. You have to spend at least 20 hours in the Green position and you need to come to the shelter to volunteer pretty regularly. When you complete the 20 hours, you can request to become part of the enrichment team for cats or dogs.

Yellow dots are for those who are a part of the enrichment team. At this point you would either meet with Heidi or Will, the behaviorist, for a one-on-one training. You would learn about training tactics for additional obedience commands such as how to teach dogs in the agility yard and work with dogs to sit in the kennels as you go by. Dogs are given a treat afterward. Volunteers are working to increase the presence of the dogs in the front of the kennel so when adopters go by, the dogs come right to the front and sit.

Volunteers are being given much more responsibility and are doing more than just walking dogs. They are always looking for new classes and trainings for volunteers.

There are 120 people listed as volunteers in the system, but about 60 are coming in to the shelter to volunteer regularly.

b) Summary of Liaison Committee meeting
                     Meeting held on Feb. 16, 2017

1) Standards of Care
BCAS has completed a document on its Standards of Care. This was done in compliance with a bill that passed last year in the General Assembly requiring this of all shelters in MD. You may recall there is another bill before the MD General Assembly this year that seeks to expand on last year’s bill by requiring the Dept. of Agriculture to inspect shelters and ensure that they’re following the standards of care they established. BCAS asked members of the liaison committee to review their standards. We did and were very impressed. Anyone can get a copy of these standards by request.
2) Sunday hours
While we continue to push for Sunday adoption hours, there are no plans to open the shelter for adoptions on Sunday.  Staff members are currently given one w/e day off…they eitherwork Tues-Saturday or Sunday through Thursday.
3) Donations
There has been some confusion about whether the shelter can accept donations of money. Yes, they can. They just cannot solicit them.
4) County Code Changes
We previously mentioned that Baltimore County is working on changes to the language of the county code concerning Animal Control violations. This effort is ongoing. The county is trying to allow pets to be seized from those who commit violations. Their pets would be placed in Administrative Hold until those owners comply with changes they’re required to make. For example, if there’s a hole in their fence and their dog keeps getting loose, they would not get their dog back until the fence is secure. What this will ultimately do is increase the number of dogs in Admin Hold but they will stay there for shorter periods of time. It will force owners to comply with the law if they want to get their dog back.
5) Jackson Galaxy Program
Jackson Galaxy is the host of Animal Planet’s my cat from hell and two-time new york times best-selling author. He has a new research project and BCAS has been chosen as one of 9 shelters to participate for part of this year. It is a cat enrichment program using techniques that encourage cats to come to the front of their cages to greet those who visit the shelter. This program started last year and the MD SPCA participated. Will Webster at BCAS found out about it and reached out asking to be considered as a participant.  The program just got underway and we’ll keep you updated on its progress.
Talk about helping BCAS! The MD SPCA pulled over 700 animals from BCAS last year!
7) Great Story!
There was a missing 16-year old German Shepherd that was ultimately found in a storm drain after people heard noises coming from the storm drain.  The dog came to BCAS and the owner was found and reunited with the dog. It turns out that the owner had adopted the dog from BCAS 16 years ago.
8) TNR
The TNR program continues. Theere have been 169 cats TNR’d and returned to the field since the start of the year.
9) Newspaper for TNR
The county needs newspaper to use for the cages used in TNR. If you have newspapers, please bring them to the Commission meetings. I will take them to BCAS.
10) Rabies Bill
Baltimore County is hoping for passage of a bill in the General Assembly that would require veterinarians to provide documentation of every rabbies vaccination given. Each county could determine whether nit would want to implement that requirement. The bill has been heard in committees in the Senate and House of Delegates. Having this documentation could be very helpful particularly in bite cases.

c) Ann Gearhart Assignment
Commission member Ann Gearhart will be attending BCAS Volunteer workshops and special trainings and will report back to the Commission about them.
d) USDA Update
Some of the animal welfare documents that were abruptly purged from an Agriculture Department database early this month were restored Friday, days after animal rights groups filed a lawsuit to make the records public again.
The documents that were restored to the database include inspection reports for research institutions and certain federal labs that work with animals. Similar reports on the treatment of animals by zoos, breeding operations and animal transporters — which represent the vast majority of facilities that the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service oversees — are still unavailable.
The database is maintained by APHIS, in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.
In a statement, APHIS noted that reports on some enforcement actions — when the agency moves against violators of animal welfare law — are available on the website of the USDA’s Office of Administrative Law Judges.
In the past, animal welfare advocates and journalists have used APHIS’s searchable database to monitor government regulation and expose abuses at circuses, zoos and research labs. Members of the public could also use the records for information about dog breeders and pet stores.
This week, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other animal rights groups filed a federal lawsuit arguing that the removal of these records violates the Freedom of Information Act.
[USDA removed animal welfare reports from its site. A show-horse lawsuit may be why.]
APHIS spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said that the restoration of records was not a response to the PETA lawsuit. The inspection service said that the reports were taken offline early this month for review and are being added back to the database once agency officials have determined that they are “appropriate for reposting.”
Until all the reports are back, the missing information can be accessed only through a Freedom of Information Act request, a process that can take weeks, months or years.

e) Lobby Day and Bills Before General Assembly
The ASPCA held its annual lobby day in Annapolis and Deborah Stone Hess attended. It was an opportunity to lobby MD legislators for bills supported by the ASPCA. Deborah's blog OH! SNAP covers the event if you would like to read about it and see a video. Here's the web address (It won't allow me to make a link so just copy and paste into your browser:

7) Any other business?
No further Commission business discussed
8) Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location
Our next meeting will be held on March 21, 2017 on the third floor of the Drumcastle Building at 6401 York Rd. Meetings are open to the public.
9)  Adjournment