Wednesday, October 20, 2021

October 2021 meeting of the Baltimore COunty Animal Services Advisory Commission

 Hi, everyone,

The October meeting was an important one. The Commission approved our annual report which will now be submitted to the Baltimore County Council; and the County Executive. The report will be included ion this post.

Here is the agenda form our meeting: 

OCTOBER 2021 AGENDA

1. Call to Order

2. Roll Call-Determination of a quorum-Members in attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Rene Varela, Roy Plummer, Bob Swensen, Chris Shaughness, and Sarah Hardy. Also attending were Chief of Animal Services Dr. Sandra Andrulis and two members of the community: Jen Lavin and Anne George.

3. Approval of September 2021 minutes-Minutes were approved as follows:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES

ADVISORY COMMISSION

September 21, 2021

The fifty-ninth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 via GoogleMeet.

Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone Hess, Chris Shaughness, Sarah Hardy, Bob Swensen, Rene Varela, and Roy Plummer.

Other attendees: Jonny Akchin, Anne George

This meeting was called to order at 6:32 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone Hess.

Minutes

July minutes were approved with correction that this meeting is being held virtually instead of at Drumcastle.

Old Business:

The Commission Annual Report is almost finished. Should have draft complete first week of October. The draft will be sent to Commission members as soon as it’s finished and will be voted on at the October meeting.

Deborah has finished a video for BCAS about how to Introduce a Second Cat to your home.

New Business:

Assistant Shelter Supervisor Dave Ledford and Anna Battle (Foster and Rescue Coordinator) have resigned. Lindsay Jacks is the new Volunteer Coordinator and Deb has met her. She was very impressed and has heard good things about her.

Space for “Working Cats” will be reduced from 16 to 8 cages. Jonny said that BCAS may use the Dundalk location for additional space for these cats. 

There are lots of kittens available at BCAS right now.

The County continues working on a TNR law.

Maryland's ban on the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores has been upheld in court. Just Puppies tried to have the courts knock down the ban but was unsuccessful.

There was a discussion about the use of padlocks on kennels at BCAS. Sarah Hardy has expressed concern that they would be difficult to open in the event of an emergency like a fire. Deb called some other shelters to see what they use. Sliding locks/carabiners were favored as they can be opened quickly in the event of an emergency. This issue will be included in the Commission’s annual report.

Introduction of Anne George, visitor to this meeting. Question of how others would be able to attend/observe this meeting. Those who are interested should contact Deb for the link.

Discussion of when to resume meeting in person. At this time, meetings will continue to be virtual until January. Then we will revisit.

Next meeting scheduled virtually for October 19, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

Adjournment at 7:00 p.m.

4. Old Business

a. TNR bill (Joy Freedman Care for Cats Act) and Work Session-

The Administration of Johnny Olsziewski introduced the Joy Freedman Care for Cats Act to the County Council. This bill would codify the current pilot TNR program at BCAS. The County Council will hold a work session where this bill will be discussed on October 26, 2021 at 4pm. Deborah and Chris Shaiughness will testify in favor of the bill as will several others. The County Council is slated to vote on the measure November 1st. We are very gratified that the Administration has taken this step as the main recommendation of the Commission's last annual report was the creation of a TNR bill. 

b. Annual Report-The Commission voted to submit our annual report. This report was compiled by Chris Shaughness, Rene Varela, and Deborah Stone Hess. The report can be found at the bottom of this post.

5. Other Business? Anne George asked if the Commission members had heard of the Haas model. She just discovered it. It’s an emerging new model of animal sheltering. She said it';s being used in pilot programs in 30 shelters across the country including some municipal shelters. 

She will send links so we can learn more about it and there is a presentation  about the Haas model on Thursday at 2 pm. She will send a linker it as well as a link to a presentation about transparent sheltering.

6. Next Meeting Date and Time-The next Commission meeting will be held via GoogleMeet on November 16, 2021 at 6:30 PM.

7. Adjournment


Here is our annual report. Unfortunately the charts on the stats don't reproduce very well in this blog program. Feel free to reach out top me if you would like me to send you a copy of the report in its proper format.


                               Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission


                                                                   2021 Annual Report


       Commission Members:

    Deborah Stone Hess (Chair)

      Maryanne Martin Bailey

                Louis Eguzo

                Sarah Hardy

                Steve Malan

                Roy Plummer

            Chris Shaughness

               Bob Swensen

             Larry Townsend 

                Rene Varela


      Table of Contents


I. Introduction Page 3

II. Statistics Pages 4,5

III. Large Animal Seizures Pages 6,7,8

IV. Staff Changes Page 9

V. Pandemic-Related Issues Page 10

VI. Program Changes Pages 11. 12, 13

VII. Volunteer Program Pages 14, 15

VIII. Fire Safety Pages 16, 17

IX. TNR Program Pages 18, 19

X. Conclusion and Recommendations Page 20



I. Introduction

   This past year has been extraordinarily challenging for Baltimore County Animal Services. In addition to coping with the ongoing pandemic, several animal seizures brought large numbers of pets into the shelter, some of which were suffering from highly contagious distemper.  

     Managing these large, unexpected intakes placed a heavy burden on shelter supervisors, staff, volunteers, and, of course, Chief of Animal Services Dr. Sandra Andrulis. 

     Nonetheless, Dr. Andrulis has managed with a steady hand through these difficulties.

    She and (now former) Deputy Chief of Animal Services Jonny Akchin worked diligently over the last year to manage problems, hire good personnel, and work for live outcomes for every adoptable animal.

     That said, there are some issues facing BCAS that warrant attention and they will be addressed in this report. 

     As for the relationship between BCAS and the Commission, all is well. There has been excellent ongoing communication. Dr. Andrulis and Mr. Akchin have regularly attended Commission meetings, have routinely made themselves available, and have provided information requested. They have always been open to discussion and new ideas. This cooperative teamwork is deeply appreciated.

     The County Administration has also communicated with the Commission. When our last annual report recommended the creation of a TNR law for Baltimore County, Administration representatives reached out and began discussing what such a law might entail.   

   In fact, the Administration has drafted a TNR bill which has been submitted to the County Council.  Along the way, the Administration encouraged our input and have shown a willingness to pursue modern-day solutions to age-old problems.

      This report will provide information on BCAS live release statistics, pandemic-related issues, the recent large animal seizures at BCAS, staffing concerns, the state of BCAS programs, and recommendations for the year ahead.

     The Commission’s members submit this report respectfully to the Baltimore County Executive and members of the Baltimore County Council.

II. Statistics

      Baltimore County Animal Services compiles quarterly statistics and submits them to the Maryland Department of Agriculture.  Our last annual report was issued before the end of the 4th quarter of 2020, so we’ll provide 4th quarter 2020 stats, as well as stats for the first three quarters of 2021.

      There are differences in ways to calculate live release rates. For the purposes of this report, we’ve calculated them by computing the percentage of intake that is euthanized (not at owner request).


      4th Quarter 2020 Statistics


Dogs Cats

Intake 395 695

Adopted 87 369

Sent to Rescue 102 251

TNR 92

Non-Owner requested Euthanasia 31 68

Live Release Percentage 92.2% 90.3%


    1st Quarter 2021 Statistics


Dogs Cats


Intake 381 453

Adopted 82 129

Redeemed by owner 105 19

Sent to rescue 107 141

TNR 56

Non-owner requested euthanasia 35 58

Live Release percentage 91% 87.2%


       2nd Quarter 2021 Statistics


Dogs Cats

Intake 570 706

Redeemed by owner 183 22

Adopted 108 295

Sent to rescue 121 106

TNR 92

Euthanasia (other than owner requested)

59 58

Live Release Percentage 89.7% 91.8%


       3rd Quarter 2021 Statistics


Dogs Cats

Intake 493 923

Redeemed by owner 135 18

Adopted 138 490

Sent to rescue 111 150

TNR 64

Euthanized (not at owner request) 79 126

Live Release rate 84% Just under 87%

      It’s important to note that the two major seizures that included animals suffering from severe illness took place at the end of the 2nd quarter and during the 3rd quarter of 2021.  

      The necessity to euthanize a number of these very sick dogs obviously had an adverse effect on dog euthanasia statistics and corresponding live release rates for the third quarter of the year. That does not indicate failure on the part of BCAS but is simply the result of so many sick animals impounded at the shelter.      

The next part of this report explains the seizures in more detail. 

III. Animal Seizures

      BCAS is an open admission animal shelter. It must accept all animals that arrive either through owner surrender or through Animal Control. It’s a fact of life in an open admission animal shelter that large numbers of animals may arrive at any given moment. When this happens, the shelter must accept the animals, create appropriate cage space or dog runs, handle additional cleaning requirements, provide food and medical care, and find either adoptive or rescue placements for as many of the animals as possible.  

      As mentioned earlier, BCAS dealt with extremely large animal intakes due to three animal seizures in recent months. 

       The First Seizure

The first seizure on March 4th was unique, not only for the kinds of animals involved but their large number as well. It resulted in impoundment of over three hundred mice, rabbits, pigs, chickens, turtles, tortoises, hamsters, geckos, bearded dragons, and fifty-nine snakes, including two anacondas, three reticulated pythons, and six Columbian red-tail boas.

      BCAS is most accustomed to caring for dogs and cats, so managing the animals from this seizure presented an unexpected challenge. 

In addition, the seizure took place while Dr. Andrulis was on vacation and Commission members have heard that the seizure created some chaos and stressful conditions in the shelter. That said, BCAS created good outcomes for many of these animals. 

All four turtles and both tortoises found new homes. 

So did four of the seven rabbits (one was euthanized and two are being held pending the outcome of court proceedings in this case.)

Three dogs were seized. One of those was rescued and two are being held subject to court outcome. Of those two, one had two puppies while in care, so BCAS is caring for four dogs from this seizure in all. 

Of three pigs seized, one was adopted, one was euthanized, and one died in foster care.

360 small mammals were rehomed, most of them pulled by rescue organizations.

The other two large seizures

      The next two seizures both took place at a rescue in Baltimore County called “Don’t Be a Bully”. 

     The first seizure on June 28th involved forty-eight dogs that were living in terrible conditions. Many were sick and one required humane euthanasia while BCAS was on site. It wasn’t known at the time that many of the dogs were infected with highly contagious and potentially deadly distemper. 

     BCAS originally housed the dogs in an area with other shelter animals, and two shelter dogs were infected with distemper as a result. Both ultimately recovered. 

The Quarantine

     When testing revealed the seized dogs were infected with distemper, Dr. Andrulis implemented quarantine procedures, ongoing testing, and treatment of infected dogs. BCAS implemented use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and disposed of all contaminated materials used in the animals’ care.

The quarantine forced BCAS to temporarily suspend owner surrenders, spay/neuter, TNR services, and vaccination clinics. 

     Next BCAS needed to protect new arrivals from infection, so staff moved stray dog intake and redemption to the BCAS Dundalk facility, which, before COVID, was used as a spay/neuter location. Having this location was helpful but not ideal, as Dundalk was equipped with cages but no runs for the dogs. 

     Then came the second chapter in this story. The “Don’t Be a Bully” rescue’s operators acquired more animals after the seizure. BCAS returned to their premises on August 3rd and brought forty-four more dogs to the shelter. 

      BCAS knew these newly seized dogs presented contagion risk and immediately created a quarantine area in a storage room at the shelter. 

     The arrival of these last animals added to a heavy and stressful workload for shelter staff and volunteers and brought important issues to the fore:

The need for better coordination between Animal Control (which carried out the seizure and brought the animals to BCAS) and those working at the shelter, as well as the need for a designated authority on site to smoothly handle intake of large numbers of animals.

The need for protocols when animals in a seizure are sick so that illness does not spread to the general shelter population.

Lessons Learned

    Dr. Andrulis has put systems in place for future seizures, designating herself and the veterinary medical supervisor on staff as Incident Commanders to coordinate the intake process. In addition, a new policy prevents sick animals from being placed with the general population, with a specific storage room to be used to house animals from seizures. 

     The shelter’s hard work during this time paid off in lives saved.

In the two seizures from Don’t Be a Bully”: 

Two dogs died.

Twenty-seven had to be euthanized due to severe illness.

Thirty-seven went to rescue. 

Eighteen were adopted.

Seven are in foster care being treated for heartworm.

One is still in shelter care.  

So many lives saved! This is an important accomplishment.

     Still, it became very clear that sudden large intakes at BCAS create stress and heavy workloads for administrators, shelter employees and volunteers. 

     Unfortunately, this is just one more layer on top of what is already a stressful working environment; one where animals’ lives are at stake, and where the proverbial “faucet” of incoming pets never stops running. It’s common knowledge that burnout is a problem in the shelter and rescue world. 

     The Commission recommends a Health Department discussion about how to better enable shelter staff to cope with highly increased workloads after large animal intakes. 

     Psychological and emotional support may be warranted to equip employees with additional coping tools and the knowledge that their mental health is valued. 

     This may be an important ingredient to help staff remain motivated and productive and to prevent burnout. 

IV. Staff Changes and Challenges

     There have been numerous staff changes at BCAS in recent months. The Volunteer Coordinator resigned. Many of the volunteers were not happy with her leadership, and so, this gave BCAS an opportunity to find someone more suited to the position.

      In late September, Deputy Chief of Animal Services Jonny Akchin was reassigned to a new position in the Health Department. 

     In addition to these changes, two resignations reverberated loudly within the shelter. 

The Assistant Shelter Supervisor and the longtime Foster and Rescue Coordinator chose to leave. Both were very well-respected, well-liked, and hardworking, and it was widely believed that they contributed greatly to the success of BCAS. 

     We don’t think it’s appropriate for the Commission to insert itself in personnel issues. However, it seems warranted to register concern, as these two resignations happened within a short period of time. 

     BCAS is not unique among area shelters in its loss of valued staff members but maintaining good staff is an important concern and one that should always be a high priority.

     Therefore, the Commission recommends that the Health Department examine: 

what led these employees to resign 

whether any changes in policies, procedures, salaries, or workplace environment are warranted/ feasible to prevent future staff losses.

whether new efforts toward team building could make the staff more cohesive.

     As mentioned earlier in this report, burnout is a significant issue in the animal welfare field. Perhaps psychological support could be a helpful tool in reducing burnout and stress and therefore help in maintaining valuable staff.

There is one more staff issue of concern. BCAS currently has only a part-time behavior expert. Shelter dogs frequently arrive with behavior issues. These animals need help in resolving these problems if they are to become more adoptable.  

     We recognize there are always fiscal concerns, but the Commission believes BCAS needs a full-time behavior expert on staff.

V. Pandemic-Related Issues

     Over the course of the pandemic, BCAS has worked to keep operations functioning as normally as possible. 

     For a period in 2020, the public was not allowed in the Baldwin shelter facility. All meet-and-greets between adoptable dogs and potential adopters took place outside the shelter, and cat meet-and -greets were moved temporarily to the Cuddle Shuttle vehicle.

     The Dundalk satellite facility, where BCAS performed many Trap Neuter Return (TNR) surgeries, was closed. 

     Until COVID, inmates from the County Dept. of Correction (DOC) participated in a work program at BCAS and performed many cleaning duties at the shelter. That program was suspended because of the pandemic, and, because of issues within the DOC, it has not resumed. 

     Some temporary employees have been hired to assist in cleaning duties.  

     Hopefully, the DOC program will soon recommence. 

     Pet surrender policies were also affected by the pandemic. BCAS implemented an appointment policy for those wanting to surrender pets, making exceptions when pet owners were in crisis.

     This policy continues and, because of its success, likely will become standard even when the pandemic is no longer a factor.

     Over the summer months, with COVID numbers dropping, BCAS operations resumed some sense of normalcy, but the COVID Delta variant brought new county government mask mandates, as well as requirements for vaccination or weekly routine testing for county employees slated to begin on October 15, 2021.  

     For now, the pandemic continues to cause problems for everyone, but BCAS is managing the situation as best as possible.

VI. Program Changes 

Due to continued restrictions from COVID and the recent large seizures, expansion of programs was challenging over the past year. Below is a summary of the achievements and enhancements to shelter programs during this period.

1. Rescue 

     BCAS partnered with over 100 approved rescue organizations in 2020. 

In the last quarter of 2020 and in the first three quarters of this year, 441 dogs, 648 cats, resulting in more than and at least 200 exotics were pulled by rescue organizations.  

2. Foster

     The foster program has grown steadily since it was created in 2016, and consistently sends more animals to foster each year than the previous year. The majority of animals in foster care are underage kittens. They continue to present the most need. 

     BCAS has expanded the foster program to include dogs and exotics. At this writing, animals in foster include seven dogs being treated for heartworm, two puppies, and thirty-three exotics (many of which are being held as part of an administrative case pending court proceedings).

     BCAS has begun a pilot “alternative placement” program for dogs. These are dogs that, have behavior or medical issues. Because of these problems, they previously would have been available only to a rescue organization, not to adopters.  

     This program allows these dogs to go to adoptive homes but involves screening and extra adoption counseling to ensure that they’re a good fit and that the adopters are fully aware of the pet’s behavior or medical issues and can handle them.

     Additionally, BCAS has initiated a foster-to-adopt program for heartworm-positive dogs. These dogs would also have previously been designated “rescue only”. The dogs are treated while living with their adopters, but the adoption is not finalized until after heartworm treatment is successfully completed.

     BCAS also piloted a program to place FeLV (Feline Leukemia) positive cats in homes. Previously these cats would have been euthanized or sent to rescue, although even rescue placements were challenging.  A decision was made to pilot a program because shelters in other parts of the country have been successfully able to adopt Leukemia cats to the public.  

This is not a foster-to-adopt program. The cats stay in foster and are on the BCAS website until a suitable adopter is found. The length of stay is very long so BCAS can only accommodate one Leukemia cat at a time.      

This program’s existence is contingent on being able to find fosters willing to take a cat with leukemia.

3. Medical Programs

     Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions, BCAS cancelled its rabies clinics that were held in public parks. 

     Instead, the public could schedule appointments online for Wednesdays and Thursdays where a veterinarian, technician, and office assistant provided rabies vaccinations, microchips, and county license applications/renewals.

     Spay/neuter surgery appointments were closed for several months. When BCAS was able to reopen, these surgery appointment numbers were increased to almost double that of prior capacity.  

     However, due to an increase in animal intake, the number of public appointments was adjusted to avoid over-booking the surgical staff.

4. Trap Neuter Return (TNR)

     In September 2020, BCAS began TNR walk-in clinics every Friday. 304 cats were TNRd during the 4th quarter of 2020 and through the third quarter of 2021. 

     Due to COVID restrictions, surgery intake and discharge were changed to curbside, with customers remaining in their cars, which proved to be safer and more efficient. 

     These public TNR clinics have been well-utilized by County residents and have kept pace with the yearly surgeries required by a Department of Agriculture grant. That grant has been renewed for another 600 cats.

5. Working Cat Program 

     The Working Cat program is an alternative placement program for cats that aren’t suited for traditional adoption. 

These cats are semi-friendly or are friendly cats with behavior concerns. 

     They can be well-suited to living in non-traditional adoption settings, like barns or businesses and often provide a natural solution for rodent control. Some working cats are best suited to live outdoors or be indoor/outdoor, while others are best suited to live indoors only, with cat-savvy adopters (who are experienced working with cats with behavior concerns, using positive reinforcement techniques and patience.)

Cats selected for the Working Cat program have had excellent live results. 

     Of 272 cats categorized as Working Cats, only ten did not have live outcomes (nine were euthanized and one died while in care). 

     Of the 272 cats, 193 were adopted as working cats, seventy-seven were placed in rescues, and two were returned to the field. 

     Staffing for the TNR and Working Cat program consists of just a single coordinator and a dedicated group of active volunteers and volunteer cat trappers. A significant amount of coordination time is required, especially with helping caretakers negotiate issues with county animal control codes and neighbor disputes over free-roaming cats. 

     Next year, the shelter plans to seek separate physical space in the shelter for working cat enclosures. This would free up space in the adoptable cat room. 

     Working Cats also could benefit from a more socially conducive space which would facilitate needed behavioral improvements. 

     The Commission recommends that efforts be made to accommodate the growth of this program and the designation of additional space to house “Working Cats.” There are many cats that don’t quite fit the definition of adoptable but can lead healthy, happy lives and can enrich the lives of their adopters. BCAS must do all it can to help them find placement.

6. Play

BCAS has a number of staff and volunteers signed up for dog playgroup training with the Shelter Playgroup Alliance. This is expected to happen over the next few months and will mark the first time BCAS has begun a process to implement playgroups for dogs. This is huge. Play can provide so much enrichment while dogs are in the shelter, and enrichment is critical to their mental health and well-being. A dog with good mental health is a dog that is likely to be adopted!

 The Commission recommends that BCAS move forward with training and implementation of dog playgroups. 

VII. Volunteer Program 

  A dedicated team of volunteers has spent approximately 6100 hours at BCAS this year performing myriad duties including:

Clean/reset cages and feed cats in the Adoptable Cat Room

Walk adoptable dogs 

Help with Friday TNR clinics 

Dishes and laundry

Cleaning dog kennels

Preparing food for the dogs

     Historically, BCAS has struggled to grow its volunteer program, and the pandemic has certainly made things more difficult.  

     While 2021 saw a continuation of COVID-19 and all its associated challenges, the volunteer program managed to maintain ninety-seven active volunteers, forty-two trainees, and twenty-five applicants. Eighteen volunteers remained inactive. 

     During this year, the program received eighty-nine new applications (up from seventeen in 2020), thirty-one of which became active and fully trained to a specific role. Thirty-three remain trainees, and twenty-five applicants are awaiting orientation. 

     Deborah Stone created a series of volunteer training videos to assist BCAS in making training more uniform. 

     Naturally, with the continuing pandemic, indoor capacities were intentionally kept minimal, but as COVID vaccination expanded, so did permission for increasing indoor work for the volunteers. 

     Of special note is the way volunteers supported BCAS during its quarantine to prevent the spread of distemper in the shelter.  

     Numerous volunteers stepped into roles for “Dundalk Dog Service”, feeding and walking the stray dog population at the Dundalk facility, while also tending to cleaning areas where the most recently seized animals were housed. It was quite an accomplishment.

     In addition, volunteers bought flowers and supplied many meals and treats to the staff to help with stress during this time. They also helped raise funds for some of the sick puppies to help rescue organizations that pulled those puppies from the shelter.

     Yet some volunteers have expressed dissatisfaction with the way the Volunteer Program has been managed at BCAS.

     The arrival of a new Volunteer and Events Coordinator has raised great hopes for the program.

     The new Coordinator, Lindsay Jacks, has served as Volunteer Coordinator at Baltimore Center Stage. She has a degree from Towson University in Animal Behavior and spent years as a bird keeper at Baltimore-DC zoos and aquariums. 

     She arrived with great enthusiasm and a friendly demeanor.

     The excitement of this new beginning is matched with an urgency of getting the new Volunteer Coordinator quickly up to speed, accelerating volunteer orientations, instituting a higher training requirement for expert dog walking, fostering more community and in-person interactions, and adding regular appreciation events. 

     Additionally, BCAS is exploring the addition of a new Assistant Volunteer/Event Coordinator position. 

The Commission supports that staff expansion. 

     While the future can never be certain, there is reason for great optimism with the BCAS volunteer program. 

VIII. Fire Safety

  One of the Commission members who is a volunteer at BCAS raised the issue of fire safety at a recent Commission meeting. She was concerned that the dog cages are padlocked at night and would be difficult to open in the event of a fire. We checked with four other local shelters to find out their policies on locking dog kennels and learned the following:

1. BARCS

BARCS does not lock its cages because of concern about accessibility in case of fire.

BARCS uses slide locks on the cage doors. Some dogs jump against the cage door so much they can push these open. In these cases, BARCS uses carabiners for this purpose because they can be opened more easily and more quickly than padlocks.  Below is a picture of a carabiner.

2. MD SPCA

The MD SPCA also uses carabiners on its dog enclosures and keeps the enclosures locked with carabiners at night. 

3. Baltimore Humane Society 

They do not lock the cages at night. There is a combination lock at the main entrance to the kennel area and everyone knows the combination. 

4. Harford Humane

The Humane Society of Harford County uses padlocks but does not lock the dog cages at night.

     Fire, of course, is everyone’s worst nightmare. 

     Since many other shelters do not lock cages at night, the Commission recommends a discussion about whether BCAS should adopt the same protocol if it might be lifesaving in the event of fire. In addition, would carabiners be a better alternative than padlocks? 

     These are questions to be examined.

IX. TNR Program  

BCAS has conducted TNR under the auspices of a pilot program since 2015. The major recommendation of the Commission’s 2020 annual report was the creation of a Trap Neuter Return (TNR) law in Baltimore County to codify that TNR pilot program.  

Shortly after our report’s release, members of County Executive Johnny Olszewski’s staff reached out to us to discuss the issue. 

 Over the next several months, the Administration drafted a TNR law which was introduced at a meeting of the Baltimore County Council on October 4, 2021 with a vote scheduled for November 1, 2021.

  The law is named the “Joy Freedman Care for Cats Act” in honor of one of our Commission’s original members, Joy Freedman, who died this year. It’s a tribute to the memory of a woman who worked tirelessly for animal welfare.

  Commission members are thrilled to see this legislation and to know that it honors Joy.

Here’s a quick recap on TNR  and the reasons why so many support Trap Neuter Return as the best solution for free-roaming cats.

     What is TNR?

TNRd cats are trapped, sterilized, given vaccinations against rabies and FVRCP (to protect against feline herpes and feline distemper), and returned to the neighborhoods from which they came. 

 With these cats unable to reproduce, cat colonies begin to dwindle in size and eventually die out.

Are there other benefits of TNR?

Yes! TNR benefits people. Because the cats are vaccinated against rabies, TNR protects human health as well as that of the cats. 

      Another benefit is that, over time, TNR programs can reduce the number of cats entering animal shelters.

How widely used is TNR?

 TNR is used in many communities. These include conservative jurisdictions like Colorado Springs, Colorado as well as in liberal ones like Berkeley, California. They include large areas like New York City and Cook County, Illinois, as well as tiny Elko New Market, Minnesota with only fifteen hundred residents.

 Numerous major organizations support TNR including the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).     

What about the concerns of those who oppose TNR because cats kill many birds?

It’s true, cats can prey on birds. But these cats exist, regardless of whether they are TNRd or not. At least with TNR, the number of cats will diminish.

Are there any other options for getting rid of free-roaming cats?

No. There is no real alternative to TNR. For many years, communities (including Baltimore County) tried trapping and killing cats. Besides being inhumane, it was ineffective.

Trapping and euthanizing (besides being inhumane) cannot get rid of the enormous number of free-roaming cats that are constantly reproducing. 

How many cats does BCAS TNR? 

Since the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2020 through the third quarter of this year, BCAS has TNRd 304 cats. This is great, but those numbers need to be vastly increased if we are to see a real reduction in free-roaming cats, as well as fewer cats coming into the shelter. The Commission recommends examining ways to augment the TNR program. 

     In addition, some residents complain about free-roaming cats that come onto their property. BCAS used to offer deterrents to help solve the problem.

     Deterrents included a motion-activated sprinkler and a device that emits an ultrasonic sound that cats don’t like (and humans cannot hear). 

     Unfortunately BCAS no longer has funds to provide these devices.

     The Commission recommends finding a source of funding for this, as it will aid in the community’s acceptance of TNR.

 What difficulties does the TNR program face?             

BCAS cannot go onto private property to return a TNRd cat if a property owner refuses to sign a form allowing them to do so. Without a property owner’s permission, BCAS attempts to reach out to people close to the trapping location to ask for their permission to return the TNRd cat on their property. If this is unsuccessful, BCAS is forced to identify county property (usually within a quarter mile) where they can release the cats. This is not ideal because at this distance, there’s no guarantee a cat will find its way back to its source of food, water and shelter.  

Another problem occurs when cat caretakers find themselves in conflict with neighbors who consider the animals a nuisance. BCAS offers guidance in resolving disputes by offering ways to deter cats from roaming onto a particular property. 

     The Commission recommends County Council passage of the Joy Freedman Care for Cats Act which will lay the groundwork for resolving some of the difficulties faced by the TNR program at BCAS.

     In addition, the Commission is concerned that the BCAS TNR department is made up of only one staff member. There is no one to assist citizens in trapping or transport of TNR cats to BCAS.

      The Commission highly recommends the increase of BCAS TNR staff. 

X. Conclusion and Recommendations

Baltimore County Animal Services has accomplished a great deal over the course of the last year.

We are indeed lucky to have Dr. Andrulis as Chief of Animal Services. She has proven to be a competent and caring leader who has worked diligently under very difficult circumstances created by the pandemic, three large animal seizures, and the outbreak of a potentially deadly illness at the shelter.

   

      Each year brings new opportunities to grow and improve. The Commission recommends the following as we move ahead.

1. Further discussion about how best to handle large animal intakes, as well as how to provide support to staff when large intakes occur.

2. An examination of what led to the resignation of two of the most respected members of the BCAS staff and a determination of whether changes should be made to help ensure staff retention.

3. Efforts to accommodate the continuation of the Working Cat program. 

4. Implement plans for dog playgroups. 

5. Continued growth in the volunteer program. 

6. The addition of a new Assistant Volunteer/Event Coordinator position. 

7. Turning the current part-time Behavior Expert position into a full-time position.

8. Examination of locks and locking policies for dog kennels, particularly at night.

9. Growing the BCAS TNR program. This should include the addition of more staff positions for TNR to assist the public in trapping and transport of cats for TNR. 

It should also include finding a source of funding for cat deterrents to provide to citizens who complain about free-roaming cats on their property. 

10. County Council approval of the TNR bill created by the Olszewski Administration as well as approval of regulations to accompany this law.

      The Commission recognizes fiscal constraints in Baltimore County that may preclude the staff additions that we recommend in this report.

     This is a reality that we face. But as we move forward and funding becomes available, we hope that Baltimore County will provide additional funds to BCAS. 

     In summary, this past year has been challenging, but BCAS is weathering the storm with many positive advances and a passion for saving lives.

     Staff is working diligently under the leadership of a caring and dedicated leader. 

     We look forward to BCAS meeting the challenges in the coming year while growing its programs and continuing its lifesaving mission.



Thursday, September 23, 2021

September 21, 2021 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

 Hi! Here's a recap of all we covered in our September meeting.

    SEPTEMBER 2021 AGENDA


1. Call to Order

2. Roll Call (Determination of a quorum)  Members in attendance were Roy Plummer, Sarah Hardy, Bob Swensen, Deborah Stone Hess, Rene Varela, and Chris Shaughness  Also attending was Deputy Chief of Animal Services Jonny Akchin

3. Approval of July 2021 minutes-Here are the minutes as approved:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES

ADVISORY COMMISSION

July 20, 2021

The fifty-eighth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, July 20, 2021 via GoogleMeet.

Members in attendance were: Maryanne Bailey, Louis Eguzo, Sarah Hardy, Deborah Stone Hess, Steve Malan, Roy Plummer, Chris Shaughness, Bob Swensen and Dr. Rene Varela.

Other attendees: Dr. Andrulis, volunteer Jennifer Lavin Pruitt, and Anne George.

This meeting was called to order at 6:32 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone Hess.

Minutes

June minutes were approved.

Old Business:

TNR Law – An email was received this week that the effort is moving forward. 

Annual Report – Committee is working on the annual report. The subjects will be sent to the commission members for their input.  

Deb will write the introduction, a section on on shelter statistics, a section on TNR law, and the conclusion.,

Chris Shaughness will write about programs that have grown or changed over the last year, services to the public and the need for other programs to help the public after they adopt.  

Bob Swensen will write a portion on large seizures over the last year. 

Rene Varela will write a portion on the Volunteer Program.  

New Business:

Dr. Andrulis update:

She discussed the recent large scale seizure of 48 dogs, including 3 litters of puppies, from a rescue organization. Their conditions were deplorable. Multiple dogs were sick, the air conditioning was broken, and there was overcrowding. Within a week of this seizure, dogs were showing signs of distemper which triggered a quarantine. Fluids and antibiotics were given, but twenty percent were initially lost. At this point, the population is stable and all adults appear to be recovering. There were two dogs tested for antibodies that did not have any and are getting sick. Testing will occur again to see which dogs do not have distemper, and their titers are zero. Trying to isolate those that are sick.  

Strays are being held at the Dundalk satellite site and redemptions are taking place there as well. 

Animals are in crates or cages as there are no runs. These dogs have to be walked several times a day and volunteers have been coming to walk dogs. Cat adoptions are open and they are doing well. 

Great confidence that most of the dogs will pull through. One is not in good condition, but was emaciated to begin with.

One dog pulled by Baltimore Humane Society has also tested positive for distemper and Bmore Humane is also quarantined as a result.

The shelter on Manor Rd. is not taking surrenders at this time and the capacity at the Dundalk satellite location is too small to take surrenders.  

Many dogs that come into the shelter have never had any vaccinations which makes them susceptible to illnesses like distemper. The quarantine will continue until the quantitative PCR test comes back zero, which could take six to eight weeks. Baltimore County has been helpful, delivering additional equipment, as needed. 

Baltimore County is publishing the openings at the shelter. There were two permanent positions that have been filled. There are three temporary positions, a vet tech position and a volunteer coordinator position that need to be filled.  

Donna Metlin who has been posting photos of strays at various shelters on her Facebook page will be leaving the area soon. There are volunteers wanting to take over this responsibility. Waiting to hear further. 

The Chair position is up for nomination. This is the sixth year for the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission. Roy Plummer nominated Deb Stone for this position and the motion passed unanimously.

In August, the BCASAC does not meet and will resume meeting in September. Meetings were supposed to return to in person meetings at Drumcastle Government Center, but not sure with the Delta variant of COVID-19. Deb will contact everyone if this changes. 

Steve Malan mentioned that the State of Delaware has transferred all companion animal issues from the Department of Agriculture to the three counties of Delaware. This is a pilot program that may give other states an initiative. The Delaware Department of Agriculture will now only be in charge of issues involving food/farm animals.  

Dr. Andrulis mentioned that the Baltimore County Animal Shelter is in need of facilities to house the food/farm animals that they receive.  

Next meeting scheduled for September 21, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. 

Adjournment at 7:08 p.m.

4. Old Business

a. Commission Annual Report-Our annual report is almost complete. Chris Shaughness, Rene and Deborah have been working on it. We are waiting for a few bits of additional information we want to include, especially shelter stats from the 3rd quarter of the year which should be available in early October. The hope is to vote on acceptance of the report at the COmmission's October meeting.

b. Video on Introducing a Second Cat-Deborah has completed another video for the shelter...this one about how to introduce e a second cat to your home.

5. New Business

a. Staff departures-Both Dave Ledford (Assistant Shelter Supervisor) and Anna Battle (Rescue and Foster Coordinator) recently resigned. Both were well-liked and well respected and it's a shame that BCAS must now find people to fill these posts. 

b. New Volunteer Coordinator-BCAS has hired a new Volunteer Coordinator named Lindsay Jacks who Deborah met last week and was very impressed. She is enthusiastic, warm and friendly, and comes with a great resume...

 She has called Baltimore home for 15 years, moving here to be the Volunteer Coordinator at Center Stage. She has a degree from Towson in Animal Behavior and spent years being a bird keeper at Baltimore-DC zoos and aquariums. Her personal time is spent running a nonprofit called Lights Out Baltimore, which rescues injured migratory birds and bats that collide with glass buildings then transports them to Phoenix Wildlife Center for rehabilitation.

She is also  a mom to many special needs pets, a MAS rescue pup, two cats, 10 birds and a tarantula. She also volunteers at Phoenix Wildlife Center, and at Center Stage.

The Commission is very excited to have a new Volunteer Coordinator in place and can't wait to see all the great things she accomplishes with the volunteer program.

c. Working Cat Program-BCAS has been using 16 of its cat caves in the adoptable room for working cats. The plan is to reduce that number to 8. They’d like to grow their capacity and may decide to utilize the Dundalk location for that, but right now they want to get as many adoptable cats in front of the public as possible.

d. TNR law-The County is finishing up work on its proposed TNR law.

e. Puppy Stores-Maryland's ban on the sale of puppies and kittens in pet stores has been upheld in court. just Puppies tried to have the courts knock down the ban but was unsuccessful. Awesome. 

6. Cage Locks-Sarah hardy expressed concern about the locks on dog kennels at BCAS in the event of fire. Deborah did some research on what other shelters in our area do and plans to include this issue in the Commission's upcoming annual report. Here's what several shelters in our area do:

BARCS does not lock cages because of concern about accessibility in case of fire. They have slide locks. Some dogs bounce against the cage door so much they can push these open so in these cases, they use a carabiner. 

Md SPCA also uses carabiners on its dog enclosures.

Baltimore Humane Society does not lock the cages at night. There is a combination lock at the main entrance to the kennel area and everyone knows the combination. 

7. Any Other Business?

8. Visitor Input? Anne George attended the meeting. She said she's found it difficult to find out how to observe our meetings. Antyone who wants to attend our virtual meetings is welcome to do so. All they have to do is reach out to Deborah at debstone01@comcast.net or message her on Facebook and she will send a link. 

Anne said that she sat in on animal hearing board and was impressed by the questions they asked and the suggestions they gave to people involved in cases there.

She’s interested in interfacing the community with the shelter and hopes that can facilitate more education on animal care and behavior issues.

She asked if there is a policy and procedures manual at BCAS. Jonny answered that there are internal documents, all of which are available through Public Information Act request.

9. Next Meeting Date and Time-Our next meeting will be held on October 19, 2021 at 6:30 PM.

10. Adjournment


Wednesday, July 21, 2021

July 20, 2021 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

 Hi, everyone,

Here a wrap-up of our July meeting. We covered a lot.

                                                       JULY 2021 AGENDA

1. Call to Order

2. Roll Call (Determination of a quorum)-Commission members in attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Bob Swensen, Chris Shaughness, Sarah Hardy, Rene Varela, Louis Eguzo, Steve Malan, Roy Plummer, and Maryanne Martin Bailey.  Also attending was Chief of Animal services Dr. Sandra Andrulis.

3. Approval of June 2021 minutes-Here are the minutes as approved:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES

ADVISORY COMMISSION

June 15, 2021

The fifty-seventh regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, June 15, 2021 via GoogleMeet.

Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone Hess, Chris Shaughness, Sarah Hardy, Bob Swensen, Louis Eguzo, Rene Varela, Roy Plummer and Maryanne Bailey.

Other attendees: Dr. Andrulis.

This meeting was called to order at 6:31 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone Hess.

Minutes

May minutes were approved.

Old Business:

The volunteer training videos are complete. 

Steve Malan followed up by speaking with reps of the Friends of Baltimore County Cats and friends of Baltimore County Dogs. 

New Business:

Deborah shared that Joy Freedman has passed away. Joy was an original member of the Commission and contributed greatly to its work. Sbe will be missed terribly by all who k new her. 

Dr. Andrulis update:

The Volunteer Coordinator has resigned. 

The shelter has completely reopened to the public. 

It is asked that visitors/staff wear masks if they are not vaccinated. 

Surrenders are still appointment only and this seems to be working well. In emergencies, if someone needs to surrender immediately, arrangements are made. 

 Kitten season is here. Kittens  are adopted quickly. 

Review of May BAWA stats. Deborah and the shelter were using different methods to compute stats.

July’s meeting will be the 5th anniversary since the beginning of the Commission. It will be time for election of Chair.

It’s time to work on the Annual Report. Goal is to have it ready in September. Chris, Bob and Rene volunteered to help with the report.

Chris asked about the status of possible TNR legislation.   Deborah said she had reached out to Sam O’Neill in Johnny O’s office to get a status update on that. 

Dr. Andrulis has a meeting about this issue tomorrow. 

Sarah asked if there was a better way to administer medications to dogs as meds the dogs did not swallow have been found in the kennels. She also asked if there is another option besides padlocks (safety concern) for the kennels. Asked for an update on the issue of hot water coming out of cold water spigots at the shelter.  Dr. Andrulis said that this should have been fixed last week and asked Sarah to text her if she is at the shelter and finds that it is not fixed.

Next meeting scheduled virtually for July 20, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

Adjournment at 7:01 p.m.

4. Old Business

a) TNR law-Chris Shaughness, Steve Malan and Deborah Stone Hess met virtually a number of months ago with county reps to discuss this. We received an email this week that indicates this effort is moving forward. Very positive sign.

b) Commission Annual Report-Chris Shaughness, Rene Varela, and Bob Swensen and I will be working on the annual report. We have divvied up subject matter as follows… 

Deb-Introduction (This will include an update on pandemic-related issues and how things are getting somewhat back to normal, the growing cooperation between BCAS and the Commission and the overall perception that things are going well) 

Deb-Statistics including quarterly stats and annual totals

 Chris-Programs that have grown or changed over the last year including the Cat Alternative Placement Program, services to the public like the rabies clinics, spay/neuter clinics, appointment only surrenders and the need for other programs to help the public after they adopt including behavior training, need for more social media and other media outreach

Bob-Big seizures over the last year including the one where they brought in all the snakes and small animals and the recent one where they brought in 48 dogs and had a distemper outbreak as a result

Rene-Volunteer Program including how it’s going, how many volunteers are regularly volunteering, general feeling of volunteers about their relationship with BCAS and efforts that are being made to grow the volunteer program, as well as the series of volunteer training videos Deb made that can now make the training process more uniform

 Deb-TNR and the continuing effort to create a tNR law

Deb-Conclusion

5. New Business

a) Dr. Andrulis-Seizure Update 

Here is a summary of Dr. Andrulis's remarks:

A lot has occurred over last three weeks. There was a large scale seizure of 48 dogs from a local rescue due to a tip from an adopter who said the conditions were deplorable there. Over half of the dogs there were sick and not receiving veterinary care and one had to be euthanized on site.

Immediate diagnoses for many was kennel cough and upper respiratory infection. Then testing revealed the presence of distemper which is a dangerous viral disease with no known cure and it is very contagious. 

The animals were immediately placed in quarantine. 

BCAS initiated testing of every dog. Many of the dogs were puppies and they all began getting sick. 20% died despite treatment. 

Dr. Andrulis was in constant with a doctor who is a professor at University of Florida and is an expert in distemper.to make sure that BCAS was doing everything possible. 

They did testing to determine which dogs showed antibodies to distemper which would indicate they had been vaccinated. 

Those showing antibodies were deemed less likely to get infected and were kept together.

Two dogs showed no antibodies at all and two days after arrival at BCAS they were vaccinated. Still one had a fever today. 

Distemper symptoms can be upper respiratory, gastrointestional problems including diarrhea, then it progresses to neurologic signs and they have seizures

In two days or so she’ll receive a second batch of test results that will tell which dogs have no virus in their systems and some will be eligible to be adopted.

To cope with a shortage of space, strays are being kept at the satellite location in Dundalk which used to be a satellite spay/neuter location. 

Volunteers have been going there to walk the dogs which is so important because the facility was never intended to be used as a shelter and doesn't have runs. The animals are being kept in cages there. 

At BCAS cat adoptions are continuing and the cat population is doing well. 

Sadly two other shelters pulled animals from BCAS before the discovery of the presence of distemper, and one of them (Bmore Humane) has now discovered a dog that it pulled from BCAS has the illness and now Bmore Humane has had to implement quarantine procedures. 

BCAS is currently not accepting surrenders unless it is an emergency as capacity is so limited.

Dr. Andrulis expressed confidence that most of the dogs will pull through.

A major challenge is that dogs with distemper can shed the virus for many weeks post recovery.

One good thing that’s ocme out of this is that the county has seen the need to fill open positions in Animal Services. Two permanent positions were recently filled. There are three temporary positions open, a vet tech position, and the position of Volunteer Coordinator.

b) Person to post strays on FB-Diane Metlin, who for many years has run the Lost and Found Pets in Baltimore County and City is going to be leaving the area in the relatively near future. She reached out and said she would like to see Baltimore County Animal Servicves post their strays on FB and someone has come forward and offered to do this.

c) Election of Chair-Deborah Stone Hess was reelected as Chair.

6. August Hiatus-As we do every year, we will not have a Commission meeting in August because many people are on vacation.

7. September meeting in person? We previously decided to begin meeting in person again in September but with the Delay variant that is still up in the air.

8. Any Other Business? Steve Malan discussed the recent decision in Delaware to turn over all companion animal issues to each of the three counties rather than keep this under the state Dept. of Agriculture jurisdiction.

Steve said many states are watching to see how this goes because he says many Agoicultural Depts don't have the resources to address companion animal issues.

Rene Varela said this can work well in jurisdictions that have the money and resources to handle these duties but that some counties will not be able to afford it. 

9. Visitor Input? Two visitors attended the meeting. One was Jen Lavin Pruitt who praised BCAS efforts to cope with the difficulties of the last few weeks and to keep volunteers informed of what's going on. 

10. Next Meeting Date and Time-The next Commission meeting will be held on September 21, 2021. It remains to be determined whether the meeting will be held virtually. 

11. Adjournment


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

June 15, 2021 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

 Hi, everyone,

Here is a wrap-up of what we covered in our June, 2021 meeting.

                                                                        AGENDA 

 

       June 15, 2021 Meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

 

1)      Call to Order

2)      Roll Call-Determination of a Quorum-In attendance at this meeting were Louis Eguzo,  

Roy Plummer, Rene Varela, Chris Shaughness, Maryanne Martin Bailey, Deborah Stone Hess, Sarah Hardy, and Bob Swensen. Also attending was Dr. Sandra Andrulis.


3)      Approval of May 2021 Minutes-Here are the minutes as approved:

BALTIMORE COUNTY ANIMAL SERVICES

ADVISORY COMMISSION

May 18, 2021

 

The fifty-sixth regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, May 18, 2021 via GoogleMeet.

 

Members in attendance were: Deborah Stone Hess, Chris Shaughness, Sarah Hardy, Bob Swensen, Louis Eguzo, Rene Varela, Roy Plummer, Steve Malan.

 

Other attendees: Jonny Akchin, Jennifer Lavin, Amy McGuirk.

 

This meeting was called to order at 6:32 p.m. by the Chair Deborah Stone Hess.

 

Minutes

 

April minutes were approved.

 

Old Business:

 

Jonny Akchin reviewed volunteer survey results. He wasn’t thrilled with Survey Monkey which only allowed 40 responses and plans to use another survey system for future surveys. Overall responses were positive. A substantial majority of those who responded are very satisfied or satisfied with the volunteer program. Among those who have served three years or more there's more diversity of opinion with just over half satisfied or very satisfied. As for written responses, they range from minor to major critiques. The major complaints are of a lack of communication from staff.

 

New Business:

 

Deborah reviewed BAWA stats for April.

 

Update from Jonny: masks are no longer required at the shelter for those vaccinated. Two new staff members are onboarding. Appointments to surrender an animal continue and will for the foreseeable future. The Cuddle Shuttle needs service. Planning to have the Cuddle Shuttle visit the Ag Center farmers market one time per month. Looking at options for putting a table at the COVID vaccination site.

 

Deborah making volunteer training videos. 

How can this commission help “Friends of” organizations? Steve to act as liaison. 

 

Any interest in meeting in person? Going to start meeting in person in September. 

 

Sarah brought up the concern of empty water bowls. Jonny said he would check into it.

 

Steve shared that Delaware has no more state involvement regarding companion animals. It has been transferred to counties from the Dept of Ag.

 

Next meeting scheduled virtually for June 15, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

 

Adjournment at 7:20 p.m.


4)      Joy Freedman-Tragically, we have lost one of our Commissiln's original members, Joy Freedman. Joy died after a long battle with cancer. She played a strategic role in the work of this Commission. She was one of the finest people, was passionately dedicated to animals, and, as one speaker said at her funeral, she made a difference. She truly did. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her, and her death is a great loss to the animals of our community. 


5)      Old Business

a) Volunteer Training Videos and New Video- Deborah has completed six volunteer training videos for BCAS. They must be approved by the County before they can be integrated into volunteer orientation. Deborah is now working on a video to train volunteers (and others) to do adoption counseling,


b) Cooperation between Commission and “Friends of” orgs.-Steve Malan-At our May meeting Steve volunteered to be a liaison with the two "Friends of" organizations that help BCAS cats and dogs. He spoke with leaders of those non-profits to let them know the Commission would like to help them in any way we can. Here is his report:

Baltimore County Animal Advisory Commission

Notes on meeting with non-profits

Commission task: I approached both groups with the intent of identifying difficulties each experiences in accomplishing their mission and how the Commission can assist by proposing new laws, statutory regulations, or suggesting changes to Departmental policy or priorities.

Friends of Baltimore County Dogs:  Director indicated that the group is generally pleased with the policy and personnel changes that have occurred within the present administration.  At their recent meeting, there was no opportunity to discuss my outreach to membership.  However, Lori gave her personal opinions on the frustrations that have affected her staff regarding the lack of imposition of monetary or incarceration penalties in cases of animal abuse/neglect. She suggests more stringent application of the penalties and cited recent changes by Cecil County   Lori will provide further information to the Commission after interviewing her staff for their perspectives.

Friends of Baltimore County Cats: Director indicated that the group is highly functional and quite successful in servicing the feline needs of the shelter.  Amy spoke of some difficulties in equipment acquisition procedures. However these are regulations that are not specific to animal needs, but county- wide purchase policy.  Amy has assured the Commission that she will reach out to our subcommittee if further needs are identified.


6)      New Business

a)      Update from Jonny Akchin-Jonny was not able to attend the meeting but Dr. Andrulis was there to provide an update as follows:

Everything at BCAS is open to the public.

Staff is wearing masks if they're not vaccinated.

Volunteer Coordinator Lissette Hernandez has resigned. Balls are in motion to begin filling that position. In the meantime, Jonny Akchin is taking over volunteer coordinator duties.

Kitten season is underway but the shelter Rescue Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator are keeping on top of it. Kittens are quickly adopted.

BCAS has a lot of fosters for the kittens.

The Assistant rescue Coordinator coordinates fosters


b)     Volunteer Coordinator resignation-See above


c)      May BAWA stats (Live Release Rate calculation)-The May stats that were reported to the Baltimore Animal SWelfarew Alliance are below. There is a difference in the way Deborah has been calculating live release rates from the way BCAS calculates them. Deborah does it by the percentage of non-owner requested euthanasia of total intake. BCAS calculates the number by dividing live outcomes by all outcomes minus Owner Requested Euthanasia. 

Here is a summary of the stats with both forms of live release percentage included.


 

   Dogs 

   Cats

Intake

   178

   219

Redeemed

    67 

    7

Adopted

    29

   77

To Rescue

    31

   37

TNR

 

   27

Euth (non- owner requested)

    12

   23

Live Release Rate based on intalke

  

 

93.3%

  

 

89.5%

LIVE RELEASE RATE including animals in shelter at beginning of month

91.4%

   86.5%

 


7)      Election for Chair next month-Next month marks six years since the Commission's first meeting. As we do each year, the July meeting will include election of Commission Chair.


8)      2021 Commission report-It's time to begin planning the Commission's 2021 annual report. Chris, Bob and Rene all offered to help Deborah with the report. 

 

9)      Any Other Business?

Rene asked Dr. Andrulis whether she sees a big difference in the number of microchipped cats vs. microchipped dogs. The answer is a definitive yes.


Sarah Hardy, who volunteers at BCAS, brought up three issues of concern:

1. Is there a better way to medicate thew animals at BCAS? Sarah says she often goes into dog kennels and finds pills that were supposed to have taken but apparently spit out. Dr. Andrulis says this is a difficult problem to manage because there are so many meds given to the animals and BCAS tries numerous ways to disguise them so the animals will swallow them including pill pockets.

2. Sarah mentioned the ongoing problem of hot water coming out of faucets. Dr. Andrulis said she had been told the problem had been fixed and asked Sarah to text her immediately if she encounters this problem  and to let her know what faucet (s) are involved so that she can get Property management to address the problem.

3. Sarah said she was concerned that BCAS uses padlocks in animal cages that could make it difficult to save animals if there is a fire.


10)   Date and Time of Next Meeting-The Commission's next meeting will be held virtually on July 20, 2021 at 6:30 PM. 


11)   Adjournment