Monday, February 26, 2018

Feb. 20, 2018 meeting Baltimore County Animal Svcs. Advisory Commission

Here's a summary of the Feb. 20, 2018 meeting of the altimore County Animal Svcs. Advisory Commission.

                                     FEBRUARY 20, 2018 AGENDA

2) ROLL CALL-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Janice Vincent, Joy freedman, Julianne Zimmer, Ann Gearhart, Maryanne Bailey
3) APPROVAL OF MINUTES-Here are the Jan. minutes as approved:

January 16, 2018

The twenty-fifth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, January 16, 2018, in the Main Conference Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:41 p.m. by the Chair, Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Jon Christiana (by phone), Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer, Janice Vincent (by phone), and Julianne Zimmer.


Minutes from the October 18, 2017 meeting were motioned and approved as submitted.

Motion –

Motioned by: Ann Gearhart
Second by:  Joy Freedman
Decision: Approved

Old Business

Cuddle Shuttle

Cuddle Shuttle is in action and looks great.

Bathroom Issue

The bathroom issue at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter seems to have been resolved since the port-a-potty is no longer there.

New business

BCAS Statistics for 4th Quarter

Live release rates for both dogs and cats is over 90%. Here is a comparison between fourth quarter 2017 and fourth quarter 2016.
                   4TH QUARTER 2017 VS. 4TH QUARTER 2016

              2017                                                     2016
Dogs     486   509
Cats      1043 846

Dogs     121 (24.8%)                                         160 (31.4%)
Cats      292 (27.9%)                                           377 (44.5%)

                             TRANSFERRED TO RESCUE
Dogs     128 (26.3%)                                     156 (30.6%)
Cats      257 (24.6%)                                     220 (26%)

Cats          424                                                   177

                   (OTHER THAN OWNER REQUESTED)

Dogs        42 (8.6%)                                           47 (9.2%)
Cats        107(10%)                                           152 (17.9%)

Joy mentioned, and Deborah agreed, that the Commission needs to request the list of all rescues that are working with Baltimore County Animal Shelter and a list of the most active rescues, possibly during the next Liaison Committee Meeting.

Oscar’s Death
The death of a dog named Oscar over the New Year holiday became an explosive story on social media.
The details of the case as explained in the police report are confusing.
Don Mohler released a statement that on December 30th, the dog named Oscar, died of natural causes.

However, the State’s Attorney’s office is conducting an investigation and a necropsy is being performed so it’s unclear whether the dog died of natural causes.

This started when police and Animal Services received information that a dog in a yard had died of exposure to the cold.  It appears an animal control officer was not dispatched at the time, but did respond on 1/2/18, with Dr. Jones, when requested by the police.

Deborah, Joy and Julianne have requested call logs from Animal Services for the range of December 28, 2017 through January 2, 2018. They also requested a meeting with representatives from Animal Services to discuss what happened.

E-mail to Fred

Deborah read a draft email that she would like to send to Fred in reference to Oscar’s death. The interest of the Commission is whether Animal Services responded properly to the phone calls they received.

Through discussion, the email was revised. There was a motion to send the email:

Motion: Joy Freedman
Second: Jon Christiana

If there is no response within a week, Commission members decided to then contact County Council members to raise concerns.

Letter to Councilman (woman)

Joy will be rewriting the letter and then will send it to Commission members for review.

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location
February 20, 2018, 6:30 p.m., at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room


Motion to adjourn –

Motion by Roy Plummer
Second by Ann Gearhart
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

At the February, 2018 meeting Deborah made this opening statement:
     I just want to make a few remarks in light of recent events.
     This Commission has been meeting for 2 and a half years now after being created by the Baltimore Council. The Council acted because of a long history of complaints about BCAS. These complaints filled social media, and led to protests outside the County Courthouse as well as reports on local news.
     Our County Executive, to his great credit, came to realize that a new era of sheltering had left BCAS behind.
     He had already planned to build a new facility, but also announced plans to open the east and west side spay/neuter clinics, to create volunteer and rescue coordinator positions, to conduct a TNR pilot program, and to join social media by creating a BCAS Facebook page.
     So when the Commission began its work, positive change was already underway.
     When I was elected Chair, I felt it was important for the county to know that we wanted to work constructively with the shelter.
     There was definitely tension early on. Fred Homan used to attend every meeting to observe what took place.
Many of you here remember those days.
     But over time, the Commission developed a positive relationship with BCAS.
     In early 2016 we created a liaison committee to meet regularly at the shelter.
      The liaison committee, which is now made up of Joy, Julianne and me, met almost every month at the shelter with Fred Homan, Gary Klunk, and Dr. Jones. The meetings were friendly and open.
     We regularly supported BCAS decisions and reported back positively on all that was happening at the shelter.
     We communicated all of this positive news to the public and the County Council, cheering amazing quarterly statistics, the clear dedication of BCAS staff, the transformation of the volunteer program, and other great achievements.
     But the Commission is not here just to cheer or agree with the shelter. We represent the citizens of Baltimore County.
     So, when the recent story of Oscar blew up on social media, it was important for the liaison committee to understand what took place and ask questions about Animal Control’s response to this incident so that we could report back to you.
     We were refused a meeting. We requested certain materials and they were not sent to us.
     We subsequently sent a letter to the County Council raising questions and concerns. We never blamed Animal Control or determined that officers had done anything wrong. But we did feel that a conversation was warranted about whether all proper procedures were followed, and whether policies needed change.
     Since then, Fred informed us he would not hold our regular liaison committee meeting this month, that he plans to begin attending Commission meetings once again, and will once again require us to submit our questions in writing.
      Despite all the many ways we have shown our support for the shelter, despite our two annual Commission reports that highly praised all of the shelter’s achievements, despite always being available whenever our help was requested, our decision to ask necessary questions has resulted in punitive measures.
     To say I’m disappointed in this turn of events would be an understatement.
     I can only say that the Commission must continue to perform its duties, do the right thing and hope that the county reaches out its hand to us once again.
     We are still here. Nothing has changed. We believe in the shelter. We believe in its staff.
     And we believe in transparency.
     These things are not mutually exclusive.

4) UPDATE ON MEMBERS-COUNCILMAN JONES’S APPOINTMENT, JAMIE DE RITA, AND JEAN TOWNSEND-Councilman Jones has not yet chosen a replacement to serve on the Commission after the departure of Lavinia Ringgold. A County Council staff member has reached out to him to encourage him to make a new appointment as soon as possible.
Jamie DeRita Rodriguez who was an Administration appointee to the Commission has not attended several meetings and attempts to reach her have been unsuccessful.Deborah has notified the Administration so they can determine whether Jamie will return or whether a replacement will be necessary.
Jean Townsend had a fall and is in rehab. It's uncertain whether she'll be able to return to Commission duties. We wish her well.

5) OSCAR UPDATE-The State's attorney has not yet issued a report or necropsy results. Julianne and Joy have been working with County Council members on drafting proposed legislation to augment the county code that would prohibit pets from being left outside in dangerous weather.
Ann Gearhart raised concerns about posts she saw and heard about on social media that were threatening to shelter employees. If, in fact, threats were made, this is obviously of great concern and harms all efforts by the Animal community to be seen as a partner with the shelter.
There is no place for threats of any kind. The Commission condemns this in the strongest possible terms.

6) GENERAL UPDATE-There was discussion about concern that there may not be a lot of coordination between police, Animal Control, and the State's Attorney's office.

a) Animal Control, States Attorney, police cooperation in other jurisdictions-Maryanne and Ann will look into cooperation between Police, Animal Services, and prosecutors in other jurisdictions
b) Invite candidates to Commission meetings-We will invite the primary candidates for County Executive to attend a Commission meeting to discuss their views on the future of Animal Services in Baltimore County. Janice Vincent will work on this after we devise questions for candidates in case they would like to respond in writing rather than attend one of our Commission meetings in person.
9) ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEXT MEETING DATE AND TIME-The next Commission meeting will be held on March 20, 2018 at 6:30 PM on the third floor of the Drumcastle Building.

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