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:
                                         AGENDA
                                    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:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES
ADVISORY COMMISSION
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

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 NotesfromtheChair.com

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 NotesfromtheChair.com

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

Adjournment
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:
410-887-5555

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

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