Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October 2018 meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

The Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission met for its October monthly meeting on October 16, 2018. Here is what happened.

     AGENDA

1) Call to Order
2) Roll Call-Determination of a quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Joy Freedman, Janice Vincent, Larry Townsend, Gerald Brooks, Major Robert McCullough, Ann Gearhart,
Jon Christiana (by phone), and Julianne Zimmer (by phone)
3) Approval of minutes-Here are the minutes from the September meeting as approved:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES
ADVISORY COMMISSION
September 20, 2018

The thirty-second regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Thursday, September 20, 2018 in the Main Conference 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, Gerald Brooks, Joy Freedman, Roy Plummer, Larry Townsend, Janice Vincent, Maryanne Bailey, and Julianne Zimmer.

Minutes
Minutes from the July 17, 2018 meeting were motioned and approved as submitted.

Motion – 

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

New Business
Update on Members – Major Robert McCullough
He has been appointed by Councilman Julian Jones. We now have a full cointingent of 11 members. Deborah said she has spoken with Major McCullough and he should be able to attend our next meeting.

Meeting with Baltimore County Executive and Subsequent Meeting with Baltimore County Chief of Staff
Julianne, Joy, and Deb met with some members of the county council, then met with the County Executive, his Chief of Staff and Councilwoman Cathy Bevins. They met subsequently with Mr. Mohler’s Chief of Staff as well as Major McCullough and Gerald Brooks. 

On July 1st most animal control duties were reassigned to the Baltimore County Police Dept. This is in addition to the creation of the Animal Abuse Team. That Team is an investigative unit. The duties now being transferred to the police in general involve most Animal Control duties. This is causing serious problems. One involves a woman who agreed to care for her neighbor’s cats while he was hospitalized and in rehab. He had 16 cats and when she entered the home she found it filled with feces and urine. She contacted Animal Services and was not able to get help. (See “Guest Nina McFadden,” below.)

Issue about a lack of transparency on part of the shelter
A volunteer at BCAS spoke about an 8-year-old dog that was in the shelter. This dog was very quiet and not very responsive. He had no reaction to lawn mowers or other dogs, yet he appeared to be scared when placed in the BCAS Cuddle Shuttle to be transported to an adoption event. . When the volunteer asked BCAS staff about this dog the next day, they told her the dog was no longer at the shelter. His picture came down from the Available for Adoption list on the website the next day. The volunteer assumed that he had been adopted, but there was no Happy Tails photo. Then the volunteer heard through another source that this dog had been euthanized because he had bitten a member of the public at the adoption event. Another volunteer present advised that she believed this dog was definitely euthanized. A second incident was discussed about a dog named Suebee, euthanized about a year ago after a similar incident. A third incident was also discussed about a cat that got loose in the Cuddle Shuttle and had to be retrieved after becoming trapped There are reports that the same staff member of the shelter was involved in all these incidents.  

Joy asked the five volunteers present, what do red, yellow and green tags on the dogs mean? A current shelter volunteer, responded that a new volunteer at first authorized only to walk green dot dogs, which are easier to handle. After 20 hours of walking green dot dogs, volunteers may elevate to a yellow dot dog. Volunteers said that not all volunteers are not abiding by this system. 

Annual Report

Motion to accept: Joy Freedman
Second to accept: Maryanne Bailey

Motions were made to amend various elements in the Commission report. Some of those amendments were approved. 
The final vote to approve and submit the report as amended was taken.

Motion to accept the amended report was made by Julianne Zimmer
Second: Joy Freedman
Abstain: Jon Christiana (via e-mail), Gerald Brooks (present)
Ann is on vacation without email access.
Vote: 7 in favor and 1 abstention present

Guest Nina McFadden

Nina was involved in an incident involving her neighbor’s cats. Her neighbor was hospitalized for an extended stay. He asked her to care for his 16 indoor cats. The house was full of urine and feces. Nina called animal control and they said for her to pack up all 16 cats and bring them to the shelter. She called 911 who advised that because she is feeding these cats, they are not in harm’s way. Animal Services said they couldn’t help. Nina went to the hospital and got her neighbor to sign a form giving her control of the cats and also videotaped him. Ultimately, the Animal Abuse Team responded, entered the home and trapped 5 cats. BCAS had refused to help but finally sent a vehicle to the location. BCAS employees would not enter the home but did transport the cats to the shelter. Afterwards, Christine Sandberg of Rescue Well (which receives a grant for work Rescue Well does with BCAS) got involved with Susan Reaver to trap cats in the home and also community cats the neighbor was feeding.  

Deb advised that these are citizens turning to our county animal control but are not able to get BCAS to perform Animal Control duties. 

Nina was told if she trapped the cats, Animal Services will not pick them up, this is in Woodlawn, and she would have to take the animals to the shelter. Julianne, pointed out that animal control is being overseen by the health department, and yet this is putting citizens’ health at risk. 
Deb asked her to speak with the County Council on Oct 1. Deb is asking as many commission members to attend as possible. 

Gerald said that policies have been drawn up for the Animal Abuse Team, police and Animal Control. 

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 16, 2018 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room at 6:30 p.m.

Adjournment

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

Adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


4) Events Since Submission of Commission Third Annual Report-
We submitted the Commission third annual report on September 21, 2018. A lot has happened since then. A number of people spoke before the Baltimore County Council about the report and the Commission's concerns at the Oct. 1st County Council meeting at at the Oct. 15 Council meeting.

a) County Council appearances
Among those who spoke at the Oct. 1st meeting was Nina McFadden who struggled for weeks to get help dealing with a hoarding situation in her neighbor's home. Her neighbor had been hospitalized and asked her to care for his cats. There were 16 cats and the home was in terrible condition, filled with feces and urine. When Ms. McFadden discovered this, she contacted BCAS. BCAS refused to help, and told her she was responsible for bringing the cats to them. She ultimately went to see her neighbor in the hospital and obtained his written permission for BCAS to take the cats, but BCAS still would not assist. The Baltimore County Police Animal Abuse Team came to her aid, even though this type of problem is not one that they are supposed to address. The Animal Abuse Team requested assistance from BCAS, and again, BCAS said no.
Finally BCAS did send a vehicle to the neighbor's home, but refused to enter. The Animal Abuse Team trapped 5 of the cats and they were transported to the shelter in the BCAS vehicle.
Subsequently Christine Sandburg of Rescue Well and Susan Reaver of Pits and Rotts for Life began helping Ms. McFadden trap the remaining cats. Ms. McFadden made three trips to the shelter in Baldwin to deliver cats that were trapped.
Four days after Ms. McFadden spoke to the County Council about her struggles with BCAS, Ms. McFadden called Joy Freedman to tell her that Christine Sandburg had threatened her, saying that Animal Control was going to investigate Ms.McFadden because she had testified at the Council meeting.
    As Ms. McFadden spoke to Ms. Freedman on her cell phone, she walked to her neighbor’s house. When she arrived, Ms. Sandberg and Ms. Reaver were there.
    With the phone on Bluetooth, Ms. Freedman heard all of the conversation that followed between Ms. Sandberg, Ms. Reaver and Ms. McFadden, and Ms. Freedman took contemporaneous notes of what was said.
    Ms. Sandberg spoke about Animal Services and used the word, “we”, implying that she was acting as a representative of BCAS. She said the County would now investigate Ms. McFadden because she had spoken at the Council meeting in a manner critical of BCAS. She told Ms. McFadden that she could go to jail.
    She said Ms. McFadden didn’t get proper paperwork to remove the cats, and added that she could be in “a lot of trouble.”
    She also said that prior to Ms. McFadden’s speaking out, Animal Services was arranging for the cats to go to rescues, but because this had become such a big deal, Animal Services now wants nothing to do with the cats.
    She warned Ms. McFadden that if her criticism should go any further, the Health Department might investigate the neighbor’s living conditions, implying that Ms. McFadden’s neighbor could suffer as a result.
    Ms. Sandberg warned Ms. McFadden that the neighbor might commit suicide, claiming this often happens to people when their pets are taken away in hoarding situations.  
At the time, Ms. Freedman heard Ms. Reaver verbally concurring with all that Ms. Sandberg said.
    In addition, Ms. Reaver posted about this situation on her Facebook page, writing, “When you go after a county/government organization for something that one person says, you should check your source and also speak to the others involved. Because of this person not telling the full truth and because of advocates not getting the full truth, the person thinking she’s making a difference may end up in jail and the other people involved may have to bale (sic) on helping the animals left.”
      Ms. McFadden refused to be intimidated. She spoke again at the October 15th County Council meeting about this.
   
     In addition, eight other citizens spoke to the Council on Oct. 15 about problems they have had with BCAS.
     A recurring theme concerned the BCAS requirement that all those who want to make a complaint must provide a signed, notarized affidavit for any investigation to begin.
The citizens explained that this delays reporting and sometimes causes people to fail to report problems entirely.
One speaker, Cathy L'Altrelli explained that when a neighbor's dog was killed by two other dogs in the neighborhood, it took her neighbor three weeks to provide the notarized affidavit. In that interim, she came very close to being attacked by the same dogs.
   
     Another speaker, Peggy Riston, told of a vicious attack on her and her dog by a neighborhood dog. Her dog received multiple stitches and a drain, and incurred one thousand dollars in vet bills. Ms. Riston suffered bites on her hands, one of them down to the knuckle.
She too had to provide a notarized affidavit. Once BCAS received the affidavit, the attacking dog was not impounded, and was allowed to serve out its 10 day rabies quarantine in its home. The case never went before the Animal Hearing Board. The owner of the attacking dog was issued citations only.

     Another speaker, Adam Zimmerman, said he had a dead deer in his yard and called Animal Services. When BCAS responded, they informed Mr. ZImmerman that BCAS policy only allowed BCAS to pick up a dead animal within 10 feet of the BCAS vehicle. So Mr. Zimmerman had to drag the dead deer close enough to the vehicle for the Animal Control Officer to retrieve it. This is not the Officer's fault. It appears this is BCAS policy.

The final speaker that evening was Commission member Julianne Zimmer.
Here are her remarks:

Good evening, I’m Julianne Zimmer. I serve on the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission as an appointment of the Baltimore County Administration.

The citizens you heard from tonight are just SOME of those who have contacted us. There are many more who are having terrible problems dealing with Baltimore County Animal Services.

These problems are reaching a crisis point, since BCAS, in July of this year, transferred almost all of its responsibilities for Animal Control to the Baltimore County Police Dept.

The Police have no training for this and should not be first responders for such problems. They already have a full plate of responsibilities in keeping our communities safe.

I’m sure each of you wants your constituents and all county citizens to feel protected from aggressive animals, and believes the county should have a fully functioning and well- trained Animal Control Division within its Dept. of Animal Services.

Please demand the restoration of our Animal Control Division to a fully functioning, well-trained operation. 

At your last meeting, we summarized the Commission’s findings in its most recent annual report.

Since then, BCAS representatives have said we are misinformed.
But they have yet to present one piece of real evidence that disproves any of our findings. All they say is that we are wrong.

     At your last Council meeting, County Administrative Officer Fred Homan said he was open to an audit of BCAS by the county auditor. This is unacceptable.

Mr. Homan has placed himself fully in charge of everything that happens in Animal Services. And he has control over every aspect of this government. 

A county audit could not possibly be truly independent.

In addition, a financial audit is only part of what is called for here. We also need an investigation, a performance audit of BCAS. This too must be independent. Those who work for BCAS have told us they are fearful of Mr. Homan and Gary Klunk, son of George Klunk, who is Baltimore County Property Manager. Gary Klunk is second in charge at BCAS. 

We ask that you move immediately to hire an outside organization with expertise in Animal Services that has never had any connection or relationship with BCAS or Baltimore County, to perform a financial and performance audit. An organization like Best Friends Animal Society would be ideal.

Everyone you heard tonight spoke on different topics. But it all leads to the same place.
There are serious problems at BCAS that demand immediate attention.

c) Letter to County Council and County Executive concerning Citizen Complaint-
Deborah Stone Hess sent an email to the County Council members and the County Executive about what happened to Nina McFadden.

d) Shelter water temperatures-We have been told there has been an ongoing problem with water at BCAS running very hot out of the taps. The problem has been remedied.

5) Third Quarter Statistics
Here are the BCAS statistics for the third quarter of 2018.
page1image5025872
DISPOSITION DURING QTR:
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: July 1-September 30 2018
DOGS CATS
A. LiveAnimalCountatBeginningofQtr
48
page1image5001008
105
page1image5013104
page1image3776720
LIVE INTAKE DURING QTR:
page1image3777760
B. Stray/At Large
page1image5014112
355
page1image5024304
449
C. Relinquished by Owner
111
209
D. Owner Requested Euthanasia
94
page1image5007056
114
page1image5009968
E. Transferred in from another Agency
0
page1image5013216
0
page1image5015232
F. Other Live Intakes (impounds, births, animals placed in foster care, brought in for TNR, etc)
16
159
G. TOTALLIVEINTAKEDURINGQTR(B+C+D+E+F)
page1image5006608
576
page1image5007840
page1image5009072
931
page1image5011088
H. Adoption
127
365
I. Returned to Owner
page1image5019936
191
page1image5005376
page1image5005488
25
page1image5006720
J. Transferred to another Agency
153
137
K. Other Live Outcome (includes TNRs released)
0
page1image5024864
188
page1image5013216
L. Died/Lost in Care
0
11
M. Euthanasia- at Owner’s Request
page1image5010192
81
page1image5011200
75
N. Euthanasia-All other than owner request
page1image5012208
27
page1image5025200
77
O. TOTAL DISPOSITION DURING QTR
579
878
P. Live Animal Count at End of QTR (includes Fosters). (A+G - O)
45
158
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 .
page1image5774656page1image5774864

Here is a comparison between 3rd quarter 2018 stats and 3rd quarter 2017 stats.
STATS COMPARISON 3RD QTR. 2018 VS. 2017

INTAKE
3rd Qtr. 2018                                    3rd Qtr. 2017
576 dogs                                              498 dogs
931 cats                                               1097 cats

REDEEMED
3rd qtr. 2018                                   3rd qtr. 2017
191 dogs                                            154 dogs
25 cats                                                 18 cats

TO RESCUE
3rd qtr. 2018                                    3rd qtr. 2017
153 dogs                                             140 dogs                    
137 cats                                               199 cats

EUTHANIZED BY OWNER REQUEST
3rd qtr. 2018                                     3rd qtr. 2017
81 dogs                                                  40 dogs                               
75 cats                                                    41 cats

EUTHANIZED (OTHER THAN OWNER REQUEST)
3RD qtr. 2018                                     3rd qtr. 2017
27 dogs                                                  40 dogs   
77 cats                                                   127 cats

LIVE RELEASE
3RD qtr. 2018 3rd qtr. 2017
Over 95% of dogs                           Over 91% of dogs
Over 91% of cats                              Over 88% of cats

     We have noticed a large increase in the number of animals listed as "Euthanized at Owner's Request." Here is a comparison by quarter of those stats. I've included intake numbers for those quarters as well. 

                  OWNER REQUESTED EUTHANASIA AND 
                         INTAKE BY QUARTER AND YEAR

                                           DOGS


    2015
    2016
    2017
    2018
1STQTR.
      25 euthanized at owner request

Intake:
317

      27 euthanized at owner request

Intake: 410
      33 euthanized at owner
request

Intake: 491
      55 euthanized at owner request

Intake:
439
2NDQTR.
      31 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 403
      20 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 
446
      43 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 443
52 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:
417
3RDQTR.
      40 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 447
      27   euthanized  
at owner request

Intake: 523 
      40 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:
498
81 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:
576
4THQTR.
      21 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 412

      28 euthanized 
at owner request

Intake:
509
      59 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:
486




                                                      CATS


   2015
   2016
   2017
   2018
1stQTR.

      34 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 492
      19 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 534
      19 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 709
      66 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:
568
2NDQTR

      14 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 783
     19 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 874
      43 euthanized
at owner request

Intake: 890
52 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:
923
3RDQTR.

      34 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:838
      60 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:953
      41 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:1097
75 euthanized
at owner request

Intake:931
4THQTR.

      23 euthanized
at owner request


Intake:792
     23 euthanized
at owner request


Intake:846
      40 euthanized
at owner request


Intake:1043




6) Letter to Dr. Jones-The Commission voted to send an email to Dr. Jones, Gary, Klunk and Fred Homan requested all of the data for owner requested euthanasia for the third quarter of 2017 and 2018, requesting that information to be delivered by November 17, 2018.

7) Announcement of next meeting location, date, and time-The next meeting is on an unusual day because our regular meeting date was during Thanksgiving week. The Commission will meet instead on Dec. 4, 2018 at 6:30 in the Boardroom at the Drumcastle Building. This room is also different from our usual meeting room.

8) Adjournment