Thursday, July 18, 2019

July 16, 2019 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

Hello, all. Well, we covered a lot in our July meeting. Here's a wrap up of everything we discussed.
                July 16, 2019  Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

1. Call to Order
2. Determination of a quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Roy Plummer, Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Julie Salter, AND Louis Eguzo. Janice Vincent and Maryanne Bailey joined by phone.
3. Approval of June minutes-Here are the June minutes as approved:

June 18, 2019

The fortieth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in the Main Conference Room of the Drumcastle Government Center. This meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone-Hess. Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone-Hess, Maryanne Bailey, Joy Freedman, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer, Julie Salter, Larry Townsend, and Janice Vincent (by phone)


Minutes from the April 2019 motion for approval.

Motion – 

Motioned by: Roy Plummer
Second by: Maryanne Bailey
Decision:  Approved

Minutes from the May 2019 motion for approval.

Motion – 

Motioned by: Roy Plummer
Second by: Joy Freedman
Decision: Approved

Search for Chief of Animal Service

The job listing for Chief of Animal Services has been posted, then was taken down. There was a candidate chosen who decided the position was not for them. The position has been re-posted. Hopefully someone will be hired soon.

Animal Abuse Team

Animal Abuse Team will be dismantled as of July 1, 2019. Felt the volume of calls did not warrant the unit. If someone calls 911, a patrol officer will start the investigation. Detective Monica Ward, who was a member of the Animal Abuse Team,  will be working as a liaison between BCAS, Police Department and State’s Attorney’s office. We’ll see whether the elimination of the Animal Abuse Team results in fewer cases being sent to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
Joy asked if we can get the stats for a year from the Animal Abuse Team. 
Not sure whether Animal Control Officers will be allowed to attend the academy.

Southwest Area Park Spay/Neuter Center Closure

This center closed on April 30th. Ever since it opened, very few people were making use of its services.

Meeting with Samantha O’Neil

Deborah met with Sam, and Joy joined the conversation by phone. Discussed the search for Chief of Animal Services and difficulties in this process. Joy and Deb discussed the concern that ACOs were not receiving adequate training and that it would be ideal if they attended the. 
Professional Animal Workers of Maryland’s two week training each year in Carroll County. 

Joy suggested to get rid of the affidavit process. 
Sam mentioned that two new commission members will be appointed to take the places of Julianne Zimmer and Gerald Brooks. 
Joy said that Baltimore City holds joint training between their police department and animal services personnel. 
Ann Gearhart said that Dr. Randall Lockwood with ASPCA does trainings in Baltimore City and will be glad to come to Baltimore County to work with police officers and ACOs. Deb would like to reach out to him. Ann to share his contact information. He does not charge for his services.

Joy advised that there is also available training online training through the National Humane Society and FEMA. These classes are free and provide certification.

Ann believes the new Animal Services Chief should be a member of the Professional Animal Workers of Maryland.

Open Position at BCAS

The Chief Veterinarian has been hired. The shelter supervisor position is no longer posted. Will know more information by next meeting.

Rescue Well Grant

Not sure if this has been renewed yet. Will find this out.

BCAS Budget

Unable to access site with this information at this time. Will keep trying.

Adoption Returns/Apartment Leases

Deborah was told that last week there were four animals adopted from BCAS and returned. One dog was adopted and returned twice. The two most common reasons are that they are not allowed to have them at the rental property where they live and inability to handle the pet. 

Joy advised that municipal shelters are not able to ask the questions that should be necessary before adoption. They do background checks, but they are unable to ask many questions perceived as personal or discriminatory questions. They can require proof from landlord that pets are allowed and weight category. The shelter should contact rental agents/landlords to verify if animals are permitted and any restrictions. 

Feeding Schedule

BCAS feeds the dogs once a day. Dr. Donatelli emailed Deb and said adult dogs are fed in the morning and given kongs with food in them in the evening. 

Another shelter told Deb that they feed twice a day, because the stomach is empty in 6 to 8 hours and also that dogs get snappy with treats because they’re hungry if they’re only fed once. Also twice a day feedings provides more enrichment.
In addition some dogs throw up bile if their stomachs are empty, and they don't have access to food. 
Deborah reached out to Dr. Donatelli to ask whether BCAS might consider feeding twice a day, 
Dr. Donatelli said she would discuss with vets about feeding twice a day. 
Roy suggested that the dogs be fed once daily in the evening. 

Drug Addiction and Pets

A woman called Joy and then spoke with Deb. Her neighbor has a serious drug addiction. She has a cat that was in the car all night with a litter pan in the hatchback area. She also has a dog that is sometimes in the backyard that appears malnourished, and it sometimes jumps the fence. This is of concern because it’s not good with other pets or children The Police were called. The cat is now in a screened-in porch. Deb thinks she shouldn’t have pets since she cannot take care of them due to her addiction. Deb inquired with Baltimore City what they would do and was told they would likely seize the animals. 

Kitten Season in Full Swing

BCAS is full with cats. 

Annual Report Committee

Maryanne, Joy and Bob Swensen (who will join the Commission in Joy’s place volunteered to help write the annual report. 

Next Month Chair Election

July 2019 will mark 4 years since the Commission first met. It will be time for elections for chairperson.

Kuranda Beds and Slip Leads

Someone has donated slip leads and someone else will be providing kuranda beds.

Any other business?

There was discussion about the shelter becoming a public/private partnership. That does not appear to be the direction the county is willing to go at this time. 

Volunteer Speaker

A couple people have contacted this volunteer about concern with adoption returns. Would it be possible to put a guide together with instructions about pets? 

Adopters need a two week shutdown presentation, or adoption counselors so that questions can be asked on both sides. No new volunteers will be allowed until the new Chief is hired. Volunteers are in short supply now. 
Joy would like to see a phone app for the shelter. People do not read paper any more, but an app would be helpful. 

When a citizen finds a stray dog, Animal Control is not available to pick it up until the next day. Some people are unwilling to keep a dog overnight and so sometimes they release the animal. 
Some feel the on-call Animal Control Officer should be picking up these stray animals. But the on call Officer is only available for emergencies.
There was a discussion about holding cages that used to be at Police precincts where people could drop animals off. They are no longer available.

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, 2019 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room at 6:30 p.m.


Motion to adjourn:
Motion by: Joy Freedman
Second by: Julie salter
Motion approved.

Adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

4. New Commission Member-Louis Eguzo has joined the Commission as an Administration appointee replacing Gerald Brooks. Commission members welcomed him and he introduced himself. Louis is a PhD student who loves animals. He worked on the Johnny O campaign and they asked whether he wanted to be a Commission member and he enthusiastically accepted.

5. Positions Filled at BCAS-BCAS has promoted BCAS veterinarian Dr. Sandra Andrulis to the Chief Veterinarian position, and  Shannon Lapinsky has been promoted to Shelter Supervisor. Shannon has been with BCAS since 2014, starting as a Shelter Attendant II and working her way to Assistant Shelter Supervisor in 2016.
Congratulations to both.
Because Shannon was promoted, BCAS will be looking for an assistant shelter supervisor and has also finished interviews for the position of Volunteer Events Assistant (Heidi’s assistant). They have selected someone and that is in the process of being approved.

6. BCAS Update from Dr. Lucia Donatelli-Dr. Donatelli attended our meeting and provided a number of important updates. Dr. Donatelli has shown herself to be very dedicated to the welfare of the shelter and the animals in its care. The Commission is deeply grateful for her work and determination to make BCAS the best it can be. Here's a summary of her remarks:
Interviews with candidates for Animal Svcs. Chief are ongoing. The county has interviewed candidates from within and outside Maryland. This is the second round of candidates as the first candidate chosen did not accept the job.
There is a concerning trend that keeps coming up: Numerous candidates have expressed a worry that BCAS will be privatized and that once that happens, they will no longer have a job.
Dr. Donatelli worries no one will take the job if they think they're going to lose it.
She said that privatization, while many in the community have discussed it, is not considered a goal in the Health Dept.
She said what the shelter needs is a stable leader and when someone takes the job, the county wants them to stay and they will have the support of the administration.
She asked those on social media to discontinue talk of a public private partnership.
To allay fears that someone would take the job and down the road find themselves without employment, she pointed to a recent decision to end a program in the Health Dept. where 14 full- time positions were eliminated, and the Department found other jobs in the county for all of those people.

Dr. Donatelli said she expects to have a candidate chosen for the Animal Services Chief job within days and hopes the person will accept the position.
This is obviously extremely important. BCAS needs a new leader. We know of several well-qualified candidates who have applied, and the Commission looks forward to working collboratively and constructively with that new leader.

On other matters,
Dr. Donatelli said BCAS is planning an appreciation event for fosters, rescues, volunteers, and anyone who has helped BCAS. She said they want to make it a red carpet event.

Dr. Donatelli said BCAS has been struggling this summer with help in the shelter because there just aren't enough volunteers and staff and DOC workers.
BCAS used used to have 7 DOC workers but the DOC has not been able to provide 7 in some time.
Another problem is that people don't always show up when they sign up for volunteer shifts.

BCAS is actively recruiting for volunteers. If you would like to volunteer please contact Heidi Griswold.

7. Old Business
a. Feeding Schedule-This next item is a perfect example of Dr. Donatelli's openness to ideas and willingness to find solutions.
Several weeks ago I learned that BCAS feeds dogs once a day and began asking around as to whether other shelters do the same. I learned that BARCS feeds twice a day. When I asked why, I was told that there are several reasons:
When dogs gorge themselves by only eating once a day it puts a lot of added stress on the GI system.
When dogs eat rapidly, as most do even with two meals, let alone one, it greatly increases their risk of gastric torsion (bloat).
An average dog empties their stomach in 6-8 hours so making them wait a full 24 before getting a meal again is unfair.
Having the dogs ravenous can lead to resource guarding and makes dogs pretty snappy for treats.
Although not much, it's still providing more enrichment and stimulation for the dogs, which they all definitely need.
I emailed Dr. Donatelli and asked whether BCAS would consider increasing feedings to twice a day for the above reasons. She promised to speak with the head vet at the shelter and get back to me.
She did.
She explained that staffing levels prohibit the ability to have a second feeding but there was a good compromise solution. The dogs already get kongs with food inside late in the day. Dr. Donatelli ordered larger kongs to accommodate more food and found several freezers so the kongs can be frozen, thereby providing more food and making them more enriching by taking longer to eat what's inside.

7. Old Business
b. Dogs returned-At our last meeting we talked about the issue of dogs being returned because landlords won't allow them. Dr. Donatelli said that when an adopter says their landlord accepts dogs, BCAS doesn't have time to double check whether landlords approve. She brought this issue up to other shelter directors at a BAWA (Baltimore Animal Welfare Alliance) meeting and they also said they do not double check. They found in the past that this kind of effort didn't result in fewer animals being returned to their shelters.

Dr. Donatelli said that BCAS is starting to track returns and is finding that the number of animals returned because of landlord restrictions is minimal. The primary reason for returns is due to behavior issues. The frustrating thing is that these issues are always shared with the adopter before they adopt. Dr. Donatelli says she has instructed Shannon to enrich the adoption program.
Another positive move!

7. Old Business
c. Animal Abuse Team-I spoke on the phone with Capt. Doug McManus of the Baltimore County Police Dept. who is the Commanding Officer for the Property Crimes Section of the Department. He will be the Department liaison with our Commission going forward.
He elaborated on how things are going to work now that the Animal Abuse Team is no longer in existence. Here is some positive news…There is an investigator at each precinct who is designated to handle cases of animal cruelty and neglect and abuse. So when a call comes in to 911, the 911 operator determines whether the complaint should go to Animal Control or whether it appears something criminal is involved and a police officer needs to respond. When an officer responds, if an officer determines that the case warrants an investigation into cruelty or neglect or abuse, it goes not just to the Investigative Services Team, but to one specific member of that team who is designated to handle animal cases. Detective Monica Ward who served on the Animal Abuse Team will be acting as a liaison between police, the shelter, and the State’s Attorney’s office.

d. Hot Car Protocol-We talked at our last meeting about whether police have a standard protocol in handling cases of dogs in hot cars. Capt. McManus told me he would have Detective Ward work with BCAS to create a written reminder for officers on the street about how quickly cars can heat up and how dangerous this can be for pets.

e. Police Holding Cages-At our last meeting, we discussed the problem that occurs when citizens find strays during the off hours when an Animal Control Officer is only available to respond to emergencies. Someone had asked about the cages that used to be located at the police precincts which allowed citizens to drop off strays. Subsequently I heard a great deal about problems with these holding cages being exposed to the elements, being open areas where animals would be put in together, where often water bowls were knocked over and animals had no fresh water to drink. Going forward we hope that we can begin to discuss other alternatives.

f. Annual Report-Deborah, Joy, Maryanne, and Bob Swensen (who will be replacing Joy on the Commission in the fall) held a first meeting to begin planning the Commission's fourth annual report.

8. New Business

a. Shelter door-The door to the shelter will no longer be locked. The public is welcome to walk in. Another positive change at BCAS.

b. BCAS Budget-There has been a cut to the BCAS budget in the new fiscal year 2020 which just began in the month of July. This was not unexpected as the new County Executive faced serious budget issues upon taking office and many budgets in county government have been cut.
Here are totals for the FY 2020 BCAS budget with comparisons to the budget from the last two fiscal years.
                   2020 BCAS BUDGET COMPARISON

        FY 2018            FY 2019        FY 202O
     $4,201,804           $4,099,772        $3,235,083

                       Authorized positions
  FY 2018   FY 2019   FY 2020
Fulltime        13         7         6
Parttime        51        52        48
                   Full Time Equivalents Total
       FY 2018          FY 2019                FY 2020
         62.09            57.86                  51.47

c. Rescue Well grant-The Rescue Well grant was not continued in this fiscal year.

d. 2nd Quarter Stats-Here are the BCAS 2nd quarter stats and a comparison with 2nd qtr. of 2019:

                STATS ANALYSIS-2NDQTR. 2019 
INTAKE:                                                   562
ADOPTED:                                              156        about 26.6%
REDEEMED:                                           190        about 33.8%
TO RESCUE:                                            107        about 19%
EUTHANIZED(owner requested):     37
EUTHANIZED (non-owner request):34         about 6%
LIVE RELEASE RATE:                                 about 94%

INTAKE:                                                     898
ADOPTED:                                                271 about 30%
REDEEMED:                                               24 about 2.6%
TO RESCUE:                                               174 about 18.9%
EUTHANIZED (owner requested)                27
EUTHANIZED (non-owner request)           108 about 12%
LIVE RELEASE RATE:                                      about 88%

            STATS COMPARISON-2ND QTR. 2019 vs. 2018

        2nd qtr. 2019
        2nd qtr. 2018
           156 (26.6%)
             116  (22.4%)
           190 (33.8%)
             172  (33.2%)
           107  (19%)
             146     (28.2%)
EUTH’D (Non Owner Requested)
           34                   (6%)
              23        (4.4%)

2nd qtr. 2019
     2ndqtr. 2018
      271 (30%) 
          209 (22.6%)
       24 (2.6%)
             22 (2.3%)
       174 (18.9%) 
           210 (22.7%) 
EUTH’D (Non Owner Requested)
       108 (12%)
             72 (7.8%)

Owner requested  euthanasia
     2ndqtr. 2019
      2nd qtr. 2018

e. Chair Election-This month marks the Commission's four year anniversary. Each July we must elect a chair. I'm grateful and honored to have been re-elected chair.
9. Next Meeting date and Time-We will not hold a Commission meeting in August because many people are away on vacation. Our next meeting will be held on September 17, 2019 at 6:30 pm in our usual location on the third floor of the Drumcastle Building.
10. Adjournment

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