Wednesday, July 15, 2020

June 2020 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Svcs. Advisory Commission

Hi, everyone,
Well, COVID has gotten the way of everything, including meetings of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission.
We took several months off while we were all in lockdown mode, but decided we would do a virtual meeting for the month of June. We were going to use Zoom but Baltimore County has another provider called WebEx, and we used that.
Here is a complete transcript of the meeting. It includes information on stats we discussed at the meeting. I'm sorry for the delay.
(By the way, we plan to hold our July meeting virtually as well.)

                                          June 16, 2020 meeting

                                               Baltimore County
                            Animal Services Advisory Commission

1. Call to Order
2. Roll Call (Determination of a Quorum)
3. Approval of January, 2020 Minutes

Meeting called to order
In attendance on Web Ex:
 Deborah Stone Hess, Louis Eguzo, Roy Plummer, Mary Ann Bailey, Janice Vincent

Dr. Andrulis is joining us from BCAS which we will get to in just a moment.
We need to approve our minutes from our January meeting. Did you all receive those today?
Minutes motioned and approved.
(This was an error on my part. The minutes we approved were February’s minutes, not January’s.)

Minutes as approved:

February 18, 2020

The forty-sixth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 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, Louis Eguzo, Anne Gearhart, Roy Plummer (by phone), Julie Salter (by phone), Bob Swensen, Larry Townsend (by phone) and Janice Vincent.


Minutes from January 2020 were approved. 

New Assistant to Commission: 

Deana Gunto is replacing Ellen Blake as our Commission Assistant.  Deana works at BCAS as an Office Assistant, so her knowledge about the things that we discuss will no doubt be helpful to her and to us.  We welcome her.    

Old Business: 

a. Website-Has been out of date for some time, Deborah has spoken to the County to update the website which list the Commission members, and she has been assured the site will be fixed. 

New Business: 

a. Kevin Usilton-Chief of Animal Services attended meeting, his 2nd time here.  

Meeting with County to discuss Commission’s 2019 Annual Report: 

Deborah meet with Kevin and Dr. Donatelli about 2-3 weeks ago to talk about the County response to the Commission report.  This is the first time ever to have gotten a response to one of our commission reports, positive response and discussion of what the County wants to do to reply.  
Dept. of Health response:
93 rescues currently pull animals regularly from BCAS. 
BCAS ‘s goal is to grow that number by 12 over the next year. 
Want to increase the number of rescues that pull pittie breeds as BCAS gets so many of these dogs. 
According to Kevin Usilton, rescues are often enthusiastic about pulling from BCAS because they spay/neuter prior to leaving BCAS, as well as provide required meds.
Adopt a Homeless Animal (AAHA) not pulling same quantity as in the past due to limited boarding.

Dept. of Health response:
Cat adoptions are going very well. In 2019, BCAS facilitated the adoption of:
1242 cats 
514 dogs 
Sent 547 cats and 345 dogs to other agencies and rescues.  BCAS has set a goal of growing that number by 5% in 2020.
In addition, the shelter is increasing efforts to more effectively use social media.  Some volunteers and employees attended a photography and social media seminar, learning the prime time most people are on social media to target greatest number of views.  
Quality of animal photos has improved because Animal Services won a camera and backdrop at a recent event (via Maryland SPCA).

Dept. of Health response:
The Cuddle Shuttle attended 27 off-site events in 2019, facilitating 144 adoptions. 
BCAS says it hopes to utilize the Cuddle Shuttle more to help it reach its target of growing adoptions by 5%. 
Logistics on staffing need to be considered. 
Also need to continue and expand educational use of Cuddle Shuttle (schools, libraries, etc.). 

Dept. of Health response:
When shelter is full, The Health Dept. allows BCAS to waive adoption fees and promote on social media. BCAS would welcome the Commission’s assistance in reaching out to the media to help increase community response. Deborah has offered to do this if BCAS notifies her.
Kevin will reach out to Deborah and she will contact TV stations through her contacts.  Janice or Julie volunteered to create a list of contacts to reach out to radio, media, etc.

Dept. of Health response:
Weekly meetings occur between the Police Dept., State’s Attorney’s Office, and BCAS to ensure smooth investigation and prosecution of cruelty cases. Overall, the collaboration is working well and there are no plans or need to change current policy.

Dept. of Health response:
BCAS states its officers are sufficiently trained to accomplish their job duties. 
Three have attended the East Coast Training Academy, one attended Animal Control Training in Florida, six have attended Tactical Baton Certification, Officer Safety Course, and Pepper Spray Certification through ACTS. 
Those who did not attend East Coast Training Academy received training in investigative techniques for Cruelty and Neglect Complaints and Equine Cruelty/Horse Handling 101. 
Six officers have completed the FEMA sponsored training on Animals and Disasters and training on Safe Handling of Aggressive and Dangerous Dogs. 
Two BCAS staff members will be attending PAWS training in April.   East Coast Academy new ACO’s will attend at the appropriate date/time.
Moving forward, BCAS may stagger staff to participate in other training efforts and expect attending staff to share information/experiences with other team members.


Dept. of Health response: 
BCAS provided in service training to the Baltimore County Police Dept. on   Sept. 9, 2019. 
Baltimore County Health Dept. is not able to speak to the training needs and/or duties performed by the Police Dept.  
Deb to check with the Police Dept. to find out about if new officers receive training to recognize signs of animal cruelty, neglect and abuse. And if part of ongoing in-service training.  

Dept. of Health response: 
A notarized affidavit is only necessary in cases that go before the Animal 
Hearing Board, this is due to legal reason.
An affidavit is not required for Animal Control to investigate.  
Dept. of Health defers to the county attorneys. 

Dept. of Health response:
When a stray animal is impounded and an owner comes forward to redeem their pet, they are encouraged to allow the shelter to Spay/Neuter the animal, and are told if impounded a 2nd time that it would be mandatory.
There is an incentive for the owner to allow surgery after first impound they are offered a smaller fee $20.00 versus $39.00 and a violation fee of $30.00.  

Dept. of Health response: 
BCAS is currently running the program as efficiently as possible with one staff member assigned to the program.  
Unknown at this time if more funding will be made available to support enhancements to the TNR program for next fiscal year.
BCAS is trying to ensure that every cat picked up for TNR has a caretaker to return to rather than the previous policy to return cats after surgery to county property as far as ½ mile away from trapping location. 
Kevin Usilton stated that more and more animals are coming in already altered that are strays.  
Deb met with Caroline Griffin and Michelle Gatos and we are working on developing wording for legislation for a TNR law in Baltimore County. The Commission discussed a plan to take proposed legislation to each Council member to encourage the Council to introduce and support such a bill. 

Dept. Of Health response: 
Dept. of Health has posted for a new Volunteer/Events Coordinator as the former coordinator, Heidi Griswold resigned.
Deb recently completed a volunteer video, during volunteer orientation the video will be shown. 

Dept. Of Health is looking forward to having a Communications liaison for BCAS that will develop a plan for marketing campaign.  

C)  General Assembly Bills-Maryanne Martin Bailey spoke about the upcoming Humane Lobby Day in Annapolis which is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States.  Everyone is encouraged to attend.  Humane Lobby Day takes place on Wednesday, February 26, 2020. One of the bills being consider by the Maryland General Assembly this year is HB406 in the House and SB627, these bills mirror Oscar’s Law to protect animals that are outside from extreme weather. 

Any Other Business?
      None at this time.

Visitor Remarks:

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room at 6:30 p.m.

at 7:50 p.m.


4. New Business
a) Kevin Usilton resignation

The first item on our agenda is the resignation of Kevin Usilton who was only at BCAS for 9 months. It was a surprise to me when I heard he was leaving. I don’t know all the details around it and frankly it doesn’t probably really matter much at this point.
We are where we are and the important thing is we keep moving forward and now they’re going to have to search for a replacement for Kevin.

b) Dr. Sandra Andrulis welcome and discussion
In the interim Dr. Sandra Andrulis is acting as Chief of Animal Svcs. And as I said she’s joining us tonight and I really want to welcome her to our meeting and also to the hot seat of BCAS (laugh).
So I thought perhaps Dr,. Andrulis you could tell us a little bit about where we are currently after this crazy COVID quarantine that has caused all kinds of disruptions to everything and maybe you could just bring us up to date.

Dr. A:
Sure I can do that. There will be a press release hopefully or a Facebook post coming out soon. We didn’t expect that Kevin was going to be leaving this soon so that was a surprise to all of us but in light of this unprecedented time anything goes. So we did have three staff members test positive. Luckily the outbreak stopped at that. It’s not truly an outbreak because we didn’t have 5 people but three was enough. So since that time we had multiple staff members quarantined and we haven’t had any new cases.
No shelter pets were involved. All the animals are healthy and all the employees are pretty much back to work right now so we’re looking at slow reopening to get back to where we were before but in light of COVID we’re still going to be doing curtbside appointments to try to keep the staff safe. So we’ve implemented additional safety measures to keep that from happening again so hopefully no one will test positive again at Baltimore County Animal Svcs.
In regards to Kevin leaving I’ve been at Animal Svcs for the last 5 years so I have a good idea of how things are supposed to run. We have a very strong group of supervisors right I don’t think its going to really affect what we do on a day to day basis.
We’re just looking forward to getting back to business and continuing to further our mission.

When you say curbside does that mean for people who are redeeming pets or…

Dr. A: We’ve been doing redemptions the whole time so if there’s a stray pet we try to get them reunited with their owner as soon as possible. They’re still being placed on the website.
As far as curbside services. it would be for owner surrenders right now. We’re not taking strays…we’re not letting the public in the shelter . But for people who find strays, Field Services is picking them up…so it’s not that we’re not picking up strays. And then public surgeries have been suspended for spay/neuter so that’s going to be started again as well and TNR.

Is that also at the Dundalk facility?

Dr. A:
The Dundalk facility is going to take a little longer to open up. We have curbside pretty much to a science at Baldwin because we have a large parking area so people can just drive up. At Dundalk it’s going to be a little harder…there’s only a small waiting area and the way it’s set up everyone drives in at the same time. There’s not even enough parking for the staff and the public so it’s going to be a little trickier so we’re going to wait a little bit to implement that.
Plus the county is requiring us to get sneeze guards which you see in most grocery stores and hopefully that’ll be installed within the next couple weeks but we’re waiting for that as well.

You mean at the front desk?

Dr. A:
Yes at the front desk to protect the receptionist.

So adoptions I guess are not happening is that right?

Dr. A:
Right. So this week we implemented curbside foster-to- adopt, and finders could come in and we’re contacting and have been in contact with a few other shelters in the area to get their process for curbside adoptions because it’s a little tricky you know. Most people come in they meet a bunch of dogs you know or meet every cat and we can’t have a lot of people coming into the shelter.
People have been using Zoom meetings actually to meet and greet animals before they come to the shelter and then do outside one on one meet the dogs sort of thing.

You’ve been doing zoom meetings?

Dr. A:
Oh no we haven’t but they’ve been doing that at the SPCA.

Oh! I was going to say wow.

Dr. A:
Yeah and so I thought that was interesting and we’re getting more information…just learned about that yesterday so…

Deb: And when you say you’re doing foster to adopt that’s not really a policy that we’ve had prior to this is it?

Dr. A:
A lot of times people will foster an animal and then fall in love and end up adopting it. Most;l for kittens because people take these underage kittens and then they just can’t part so then they end up adopting them. We were getting a lot of kittens in and then the foster will want to adopt and they have friends who want to adopt too. So those are low contact because the people have only seen the animal outside the shelter.

Deb: Are you doing foster to adopt dogs?

Dr. A:
 If we had fosters for dogs then sure they could adopt.

Deb: Do you have any fosters for dogs?

Dr. A:
It’s a lot less. The only things I could say that need to go to foster are medical cases so and those are hard to find a foster for.

I just had someone reach out to me this afternoon with a question and I thought I would bring it up at the meeting.
Apparently there was a feral…a community cat
One of the cats got into a fight with another cat
He ended up at BCAS.
And now because he has a wound he has to be quarantined. That quarantine can’t be done at the shelter right? It has to be done by the individual?

Dr. A:
It can be done in either location. The problem with the quarantines is that they’re so long. The rabies quarantine can be 45 days to 4 months so…

Are you willing to do quarantines like that?

Dr. A:
We do typically but right now we have 7 cats like that and so as the number grows. That’s a cage we can’t use for another pet for 4 months.

So you’re trying to get people to do it on their own. If they can’t, will you take the cat?

Dr. A:
Within reason. We can’t keep taking them. Right now we have a number of them and we’re trying to find people who will quarantine them because it’s really not fair for the cat to live in a cage for three months either.

Me: Does anybody else have any questions for Dr. Andrulis?

I have a concern. I was part of an erroneous complaint made against me. We had caught a squirrel in our attic. He was in there for like 2 days. I finally got him to go into a trap I borrowdd.
I took him down to Peninsula Hwy…
I came home the next day and had a note on the door from Animal Svcs. and had a note on my door asking me to call about a complaint against me.
I went on the county’s citizens access website which anybody can get on really. My name address everything was on there. And the complaint was that I had (INAUDIBLE…BUT THE PERSON WHO HAD COMPLAINED THOUGHT THAT ROY HAD DUMPED A CAT WHEN IN FACT IT WAS THE SQUIRREL FROM HIS ATTIC THAT HE LET LOOSE.)

I talked to a girl there
II worries me that my name and address was on your website for something that was under investigation.

DR. A:
That’s not something I could speak to. Clearly I could bring that up.
How those things get posted…I have to get more information about that.
That’s something that should come from Johnny O…

I’ll reach out to Sam

Deb: Have you guys been notified at all about funding changes because of all the funding cutbacks during the quarantine??

Dr. A:
Haven’t heard anything

What’s happening medically at the shelter? Amy McGurik who is one of the volunteers who formed Friends of Baltimore County Cats raised enough money to buy you guys a dental machine. Tell us about that and what it’s used for and how it changes your ability to care for the animals?

Dr. A:
It’s wonderful actually because it’s a pretty expensive piece of equipment that we would never be able to afford.
The idea right now with the capacity we have and the number of animals that come in is not to do a dental prophy or scale and polish every cat that comes in. But before we were sending medical cases out to rescues because they had such severe dental disease and we couldn’t address it.
By having this dental machine we’re able to help all those cases and there’s a lot geriatric cats and dogs their  mouth infection is just horrendous.
So far we’ve probably done 15-20 dentals and it’s allowed us to put more animals up for adoption and more rescues want to pull because they don’t have to use their own funds to pay a vet to do a 700 dollar dental we can do in the shelter.

It’s amazing. To have raised enough money to do that it was quite a huge wonderful thing.

Dr. A::
It definitely is.

Right now you said you’re not doing spay/neuters is that right?

Dr. A:
We are doing spay/neuters for the shelter pets.

Deb; Oh ok.

Dr. A:
It’s just not for the public. People are calling about our healthy pet package but that’s not opening up until Monday.

This coming Monday?

Dr. A: Yes well we already had a lot of animals on the schedule we were waiting to see if we could do them or not. We’re booked out till the middle of July already and we haven’t even called anyone yet.

Is there anything we can do to help you?

Dr. A:
I think you’re doing a good job.
I would like to know the concerns you have. Because some things that have come up before we could probably put to rest right away by giving you information.

Like I think I heard you talking about owner requested euthanasia before and I personally look at every single euthanasia as far as the paper work comes onto my desk and I review it so I have an extremely good understanding of where those numbers come from.

From what I’ve been told anytime someone comes in and says they want to have their pet euthanized, you take that pet and realize it’s adoptable you don’t put it down.

Dr. A:
Exactly. Every animal that comes in gets an exam by a vet. And then they determine =whether or not they think it can go to rescue.

Bob  Swensen joins  Web Ex meeting

Dr. A:
I’m the Veterinary Svcs supervisor Instead of just directing I also practice every day I do surgeries and I do exams so I’m doing the job I was doing before plus making decisions at a higher level.

c) 1st Quarter 2020 Statistics
The next thing we have is the first quarter 2020 statistics which I have emailed to you all.
Plus analysis
Review of stats
Live release over 90% for both dogs and cats
Anytime we hit 90% I’m feeling pretty good about things

(The format on the county's statistics won't copy and paste here properly so here is my analysis of the numbers)

                   1ST QUARTER 2020 BCAS STATISTICS

         DOGS            CATS
Intake           572             692
Adoption      171 (24.7%)       245 (35.4%)
Redeemed by owner           173               37
Pulled by rescue       114 (19.9%)       166 (23.9%)
Non-owner requested euthanasia         51 (8.9%)         64 (9.2%)
Live Release Rate            91.18%%         90.8%

5. Old Business
a) Website membership list updated
The website has been updated so all of the appropriate names are there for members of the Commission.
It was a very outdated list.

b. Media contacts committee
Who were you going to work with, Janice, to work on some media contacts?


Oh Julie Salter, right.

I’ve sort of let that slide. But we can start again on that.

Deb: If there’s every any crisis like you have a lot of cats that come in because of a hoarding situation and you need help from the public we would like to be able to reach out to the media to engage the public
So let’s see if we can get that rolling again Janice.

I’ll have that for the next meeting.

d) Balto Co Police Training-does it include training in
recognizing signs of animal cruelty, abuse, and neglect as part of the police academy curriculum and also in ongoing service training for police officers?

I’ve reached out to Capt. McManus about HSUS free training for police officers for animal control duties.
I gave him the contact name.
HSUS offers a free training course
He was going to follow up on that and then covid happened
I emailed him today to see if we can get that rolling.

Also said I was waiting to find =out if ongoing police training includes signs of abuse or cruelty.

e) TNR legislation
Deb: The last item is TNR legislation
Dr. Andrulis and I talked about that yesterday on the phone and so now that things are hopefully starting to get back to normal we can begin again to look at that.

That’s all I had to report

6. Any Other Business?

7. Announcement of Date and Time of Next Meeting
8. Next meeting will be July 21, 2020 discussion on whether it should be zoom.
‘If anyone is uncomfortable we’ll do it online.

8. Adjournment

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