Wednesday, October 16, 2019

October 15, 2019 meeting of the Baltimore County Animal services Advisory Commission

Hi, everyone,
Here is a summary of the October meeting of our Commission.

                                      OCTOBER 15, 2019 MEETING OF

1) Call to Order
2) Roll Call-Determination of a Quorum-In attendance were Deborah Stone Hess, Bob Swensen, Janice Vincent, Roy Plummer, Larry Townsend, Maryanne Martin Bailey (by phone) and Julie Salter (by phone).
3) Approval of September 2019 Minutes-Here are the minutes as approved:
September 17, 2019

The forty-second regular meeting of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission was held on Tuesday, September 17, 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, Louis Eguzo, Ann Gearhart, Roy Plummer (by phone), Julie Salter (by phone), Larry Townsend, and Janice Vincent.


Minutes from July 2019 motion for approval.

Motion – 

Motioned by: Larry Townsend
Second by: Janice Vincent
Decision:  Approved

New Animal Services Chief

Kevin Usilton, the new Animal Services Chief, is happy to come to Baltimore County. He has been on the job for 7 days. He has been working in animal sheltering since the 80’s. He says he loves to help stabilize organizations. He has worked in government animal control functions and in non-profit. He is amazed at the number of animals coming in to BCAS that are in need of medical care. He thinks that the volunteer program is great and wants to see it expand.

The animals need a safe place and BCAS is an open door for these animals and the goal is to find them a forever home. He brought a flyer for Baltimore Co. rabies clinics and asked everyone to spread the word about the clinics. He has met with Animal Control Officers and State’s Attorney’s Office about cruelty problems. State’s Attorney’s Office, Police Department, Social Services and Animal Control Officers are all on the same page working together. Dr. Branch requests that Commission questions about Animal Services be filtered through Stacie Burgess (the public information officer for HHS. He invited all Commission members to visit the shelter. 
He supports the use of TNR to reduce the number of cats coming into the shelter and mentioned that the Dundalk spay/neuter clinic is now allowing walk-in TNR without appointment.
He wants to stop cat population growth and hopes the community will help, in that regard. 

He praised the vets at BCAS saying a large number of animals come in to BCAS in desperate need of medical care and that the shelter's vets provide immediate relief by prescribing a treatment plan.

He also praised the volunteer program as an invaluable resource in helping to provide critically important enrichment by walking dogs and socializing them, and also providing help by cleaning cages and working to help get animals adopted. He plans to focus on expanding the volunteer program and said he would love more community engagement with volunteers. He emphasized the need to get animals available for adoption or out to rescue as quickly as possible after they arrive at BCAS. Kevin brought flyers for the rabies clinics and urged everyone to promote the clinics whether that means posting it on the Next Door app or on other social media sites as well as placing posters where appropriate.

He mentioned that Animal Control Officers (ACOs) are equipped with microchip scanners and they are allowed and encouraged to return the animal to its home in the field whenever possible without ever have to bring the pet to the shelter. Kevin said he has met with ACO's, the State's Attorney’s office, and Baltimore County police to talk about cruelty cases. Just last week there were 15 cases which he said seems like a high number. He discussed the link between domestic violence and animal abuse. He also said the States Attorney’s Office provided training to Baltimore County Animal Control Officers last week.

Kevin explained his views on Animal Control saying he believes Animal Control is the first responder for animal welfare and human welfare - to protect animals from people and people from animals. He said that often people are unhappy, either believing Animal Control hasn't done enough or has done too much. He said there's a need to balance that.

We asked Kevin whether the county can send out a notice to all county employees letting them know that our county shelter needs volunteers and fosters. Stacie Burgess, Communication Director for HHS said she could coordinate a county request for volunteers and fosters. HHS has a weekly newsletter that’s an internal vehicle that could be a place to start.

We asked about SOP's and whether Kevin would be working on creating SOP's for BCAS. He said yes. Kevin was asked how often the shelter is full and out of space. He said it can happen on any given day, especially with cats.

There were questions concerning the overnight hours when an ACO is on call. There is an ACO on duty till 11 p.m. From 11p.m. to 7a.m., they are on call to only address true emergencies like an animal hit by a car. If someone calls 911 overnight with a non-emergency situation like a barking dog complaint, 911 contacts the on call officer and the officer calls the citizen to let them know the complaint will be addressed in the morning.

There are 8 ACO's and once a week each is on call and then still must work a full shift the next day. There were some concerns about the script that 911 dispatchers were using in animal-related calls. That script has been revised.

We asked Kevin about TNR and BCAS practices of not always returning the cats exactly where they were trapped when citizens complain they don't them back on their property.
Best Friends protocols call for returning cats no further than 300 feet from where they were trapped. When I met with Kevin last week, I suggested that a TNR law is needed in Baltimore County like the law in Baltimore City. That law makes it illegal not to return a cat where it is trapped. This would help Baltimore County in dealing with the issue of property owners who don't want cats back. This will surely be an ongoing conversation.
In addition, as we all know, cats that come in with wounds of unknown origin are usually euthanized because of the risk of rabies. Kevin said that because cats live on the street, it is unrealistic to expect them not to have injuries. He said he thinks the state vet is working on new recommendations about this issue. I will look into that.

Commission member Louis Eguzo mentioned that he has extensive experience as a manager with the Red Cross which works extensively with volunteers, and offered to provide assistance in getting PSA's on the air and develop talking points for the media to encourage more volunteerism at BCAS.

The county is scheduled to start construction on a sound wall to reduce noise for neighbors of BCAS at the end of September. This will greatly impact the back yards and outdoor kennels which will have to be shut down during construction. Construction is going to take about 6 months.

Stacie Burgess announced that a volunteer appreciation event is in the planning stages. It will probably take place in early November and will be held outdoors. There will be a DJ.

Reach Out to Your Own Districts

Deborah encouraged Commission members to reach out to people in their community to introduce themselves and let people know about the shelter by using the Nextdoor app. They can let people know to reach out to them if there is an animal issue in their neighborhood.

Safety Issues

Dog walkers take dogs out and bring dogs in to BCAS through a door which has no large glass panel which would allow them to see what’s coming in the other direction. This is a safety issue. As no one wants shelter dogs coming face to face as they go out or come in. Deborah met with Kevin and Dr. Donatelli and suggested that a glass panel be put into the door. 

There is also an ongoing problem with water tables shifting under the shelter, causing swampy areas. Guest advised there is an area in yard six where there is a frog pond and an area that is bubbling up. Deborah reported that Dr. Donatelli has told her this will not be addressed until the sound wall is completed.

Kevin said the sound wall will begin construction September 30th. This will create disruption for dog walkers because areas they have been using will be off limits while construction continues over the next 6 months. Volunteers will need to go through the Spay/Neuter lobby area when they walk the dogs. 


 Deborah said she has been hearing that it is better for those in the community with animal control issues to call 911 rather than the non-emergency number because sometimes the dispatchers at the non-emergency number do not document calls and there is no follow-up if it is not during regular business hours.

Dr. Donatelli told Deborah she believes that the call takers are the same whether it is 911 or x2222. Dr. Donatelli told Deborah that Animal Services reviewed and updated the script that the call-takers use.   She’s hopeful that this will resolve any confusing messages that the public are receiving.
For now, Deborah suggested the public use 911 rather than the non-emergency number.

Maryland 2000

The annual Maryland 2000 took place in July with all shelters in the state working to reach 2000 total cat adoptions for the month.  Here are the final tallies: As a state, there were 2,765 cat/kitten adoptions in the month of July! That is 175 more than last year when there were 2,590 adoptions. Baltimore County placed 6th out of 21 organizations that participated.  And BCAS also increased its numbers, up from 142 to 165 adoptions!


You do not have to be a Baltimore County resident to foster. If the animal is under a rabies quarantine, you must live in Baltimore City or County.

Mobile Pet Pantry
Michelle Szper (pronounced Spear) runs a non-profit pet food pantry called MCQE Mobile Pet Pantry. She works with numerous area organizations that help those in need who also need help feeding their pets. Her organization gives out literally tons of pet food. One of the groups she works with is in Baltimore County, the Reisterstown Crisis Center. This might be a great resource for BCAS as some people who surrender animals do so because they can’t afford to keep them. 

Walk-In TNR at Dundalk Facility
The Dundalk spay/neuter facility is now accepting walk-ins for TNR.
Pets in Cars

The police department liaison, Captain McManus, in reference to animals in cars, would like to propose to the county council a new law to make it a crime to keep a pet in a vehicle when the temperature is above a certain limit.

Currently any time police go on that is animal related, a report is sent to BCAS, and if it involves a pet in a vehicle, BCAS sends out a flyer letting them know how dangerous this can be for the animal.

Annual Report

Deborah said she has been waiting to compile the Commission’s Annual Report until the new Chief of Animal Services was appointed. Now that Kevin has taken the position, Deborah said she hoped the report would be completed soon. 

A visitor to the meeting, Mrs. Hess (not related to Deborah) said Thank you for the spay/neuter program in Dundalk. The staff is wonderful. 

Announcement of Next Meeting Date and Location

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at Drumcastle Government Center, 6401 York Road, 3rd floor, Main Conference Room at 6:30 p.m.


Motion to adjourn
Motion by: Roy Plummer
Second by: Janice Vincent
Motion approved.
Adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

4) Old Business
a) Pets in Cars-I have a call scheduled with Capt. McManus of the Baltimore County PD to discuss this. My latest understanding is that the police legal dept. didn’t go along with proposing a new Baltimore County law to set a temperature when officers can intervene to get an animal out of the car. The current state law is:
2016 Maryland Code
Title 21 - Vehicle Laws -- Rules of the Road
Subtitle 10 - Stopping, Standing, and Parking
§ 21-1004.1. Cats or dogs left in standing or parked vehicle
(a) Endangering health of animal prohibited. -- A person may not leave a cat or dog unattended in a standing or parked motor vehicle in a manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.
(b) Use of reasonable force to remove animal from vehicle. -- Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a person may use reasonable force to remove from a motor vehicle a cat or dog left in the vehicle in violation of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section if the person is:
(1) A law enforcement officer;
(2) A public safety employee of the State or of a local governing body;
(3) An animal control officer under the jurisdiction of the State or a local governing body;
(4) An officer of a society or association, incorporated under the laws of this State for the prevention of cruelty to animals, authorized to make arrests under the provisions of § 10-609 of the Criminal Law Article; or
(5) A volunteer or professional of a fire and rescue service.
(c) Exceptions. -- A person may not use force of any kind to remove from a motor vehicle:
(1) A dog used by the State or a local governing body for police work while the dog is on duty; or
(2) A cat or dog in the custody of an animal control officer.
(d) Liability. -- A person described in subsection (b) of this section may not be held liable for any damages directly resulting from actions taken under the provisions of subsection (b) of this section.

b) 2019 Commission Report-The report is close to finished. I hope to send it to Commission members in the next few weeks for their review so we can vote on it at our November meeting.

5) New Business
a) 3rd quarter stats-Here are the 3rd quarter stats from BCAS:
logo png good.jpgBaltimore County Animal Services

13800 Manor Rd., Baldwin, MD 21013
Name of Shelter Manager:     
Kevin Usilton
Person completing this survey:     
Shannon Lapinsky

Activity for Reporting Quarter:
July - September 2019


A.     Live Animal Count at Beginning of Qtr


B.      Stray/At Large

C.      Relinquished by Owner

D.     Owner Requested Euthanasia

E.      Transferred in from another Agency

F.       Other Live Intakes (impounds, births, animals placed in foster care, brought in for TNR, etc)

Will calculate automatically 


H.     Adoption

I.        Returned to Owner

J.        Transferred to another Agency

K.      Other Live Outcome (includes TNRs released)

L.       Died/Lost in Care

M.   Euthanasia- at Owner’s Request

N.     Euthanasia-All other than owner request

O.     TOTAL DISPOSITION DURING QTR Will automatically calculate

P.      Live Animal Count at End of QTR (includes Fosters).  Will calculate automatically

In order to better understand to what degree unowned cats are a source of intake and euthanasia, we need your help.  To the best of your abilities, please indicate what percent and/or how much of CAT intake would you consider unowned (i.e. feral,  or community cats) animals:     
How many of the euthanized cats would you guess are unowned:      
1/Pursuant to section 2-1602(H) of the Agriculture Article which states: “Beginning January 14,2014, each county and municipal animal control shelter and each organization that contracts with a county or municipality for animal control shall report quarterly to the Department on a form prescribed by the Department describing for the previous 3 months: (1) The number of cats and dogs taken in; (2) The number of cats and dogs disposed of, broken down by method of disposal, including euthanasia; and (3) Any other relevant data the Department requires.”Please return completed survey by email attachment to or by mail to Maryland Department of Agriculture, Marketing Department (Spay and Neuter Program), 50 Harry S Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401. Questions call Nathaniel Boan at 410-481-5766 email: .   

Here is a comparison of these stats with the 3rd quarter stats form 2018:

  3RD QUARTER ((July-September) 2019 STATISTICS
                 Baltimore County Animal Services

Dangerous Animal Seizures

Police Seizures
Redeemed by owner
Euthanasia (owner requested)

Euthanasia (non-owner requested)

Live Release Rate

                                  3rd QUARTER 2018 STATISTICS

Redeemed by Owner
Euthanasia (Owner Requested)
Euthanasia (other than owner requested)

Live Release Rate

b) TNR trapping-BCAS does not have the staff to do trapping. Traps are lent to the public.

c) Walk-in TNR-There is walk-in TNR available at Baldwin but only for one cat at a time. If someone wants to do multiple cats, they must schedule that and can now do so online.

d) Commission website update-Louis Eguzo let me know that the website that lists Commission members was very out of date. I reached out to Tom Bostwick who is legal counsel to the County Council. Tom is working on getting the website updated.

e) Reading program-Reading to animals helps bring comfort and reduce the anxiety of shelter dogs, exotics and cats, and it nurtures empathy in children. BCAS is planning to offer a shelter reading program for children to come in with a parent to read to adoptable animals. The hope is that thus will begin around mid-December.   Heidi Griswold is hosting a brainstorming meeting in the BCAS classroom on October 23rd at 3pm for anyone interested in participating.

f) Animal Services Field Supervisor position-Kayla Franczkowski has been promoted to the Animal Services Field Supervisor position.  Kayla began her career in the county in 2012, and has been the Assistant Field Supervisor since 2017.

6) Any Other Business? I've volunteered several times as an Office Assistant at BCAS recently and I've been  impressed with shelter staff at the front desk. I've watched them deal with the public for adoptions and surrenders, and they are polite, knowledgeable, and efficient.

7) Visitor Remarks? A young man attended our meeting saying he has a dog-training business snd has been training dogs for 11 years, specializing in obedience along with aggression and fearful aggression. He wants to see if there’s anything he can do for the shelter. Deborah promised to reach out to the county to discuss this and the possibility of creating a group of volunteer trainers who could work with adopters at BCAS.

8) Date and Time of Next Meeting-Our next Commission meeting will be held on Nov. 19, 2019 at 6:30 at the Drumcastle Building.

9) Adjournment