Commissioners of Carroll Co., MD: Create an Animal Shelter Our Community Can Be Proud Of
In 2012 the Carroll Co. Humane Society killed 62% of the domestic animals that arrived at the shelter, and the tax dollars of county residents funded it.
- District 1, Carroll County, MD
- District 2, Carroll County, MD
- District 3, Carroll County, MD
- District 4, Carroll County, MD
- District 5, Carroll County, MD
A few changes could be made to dramatically reduce the number of animals killed at the Carroll County Humane Society, and increase the adoption rate. Adopters are charged an adoption fee, which increase the shelters budget, without increasing the burden on the taxpayers. By not making these changes, the Carroll Co. Humane Society is failing to meet the needs of our community, and our community’s homeless pets. Some of these changes could, and should, be specified in the Memorandum of Understanding between the county and the shelter. Please include the following changes when the contract between the Society and the County is renewed in June, 2013.
• The agreement between the shelter and the county should be renewed annually. (Currently, it is renewed every 5 years.) The shelter’s performance should be evaluated at that time.
• A live release rate of 90% or better should be expected.
• The shelter should make ALL records available to the county, so that the county can comply with Public Information Act requests from the public. Any organization receiving public funding to perform a duty of local government should provide the same transparency required of a government agency.
• The shelter will utilize a computer program to compile this data in an efficient manner, and provide it to the county in a comprehensive format.
• The shelter must maintain hours that meet the needs of our community. Improved hours can increase the adoption rate, decrease the intake rate, and shorten the length of stay for pets at the shelter. This has the potential to decrease the burden on the tax payers to operate the shelter. At the minimum, staff schedules should be adjusted in a way that the shelter will be open until 7 pm, on at least 3 weekdays, 9am-6pm on Saturdays, and noon -6pm on Sundays.
• The Society should provide to the county, and the public, information on the method (s) used to assess all pets for adoption, and have a pre-determined plan of action for each type of pet (ie: adoptable cats, feral cats, cats with behavioral problems, cats with treatable medical conditions, adoptable dogs, dogs in need of training, dogs with treatable medical conditions, etc.), in place based on this assessment. These plans will be approved by the county, and available to the public for review, if requested.
• The Carroll County Humane Society shall deal with all citizens of the county in a respectful, courteous fashion. This includes being honest with the public about the number and type of animals killed. All employees shall be provided with this information, so they can answer questions accurately.
• There should be no “impound” fee required to be paid for owners to reclaim a cat. Currently, the impound fee is $40. There is no legal justification for this fee, as no laws have been violated.
• All stray animals will be held for a minimum of ten days, to provide their owners an opportunity to find them.
• Every attempt should be made to locate a stray cat or dog’s owner. This should include posting pictures of ALL stray pets on the website, notifying other animal control agencies in the area a pet was found, scanning the pet for a microchip, calling the owner if their name or phone number is known, and advertising ALL stray pets in the newspaper. Currently, only dogs are advertised in the newspaper, so someone checking there for a lost cat could conclude that the shelter had no stray cats. Cat owners pay taxes that fund this shelter just as dog owners do, so there is no reason they should not be extended the same courtesy dog owners are.
• The Carroll Co. Humane Society should make every effort to help pets that are to be surrendered, stay in their homes, if possible. The Society should also make EVERY effort to see that ALL pets, both surrendered, and unclaimed stray pets, are placed in new homes. This should include pets being surrendered by appointment, so the owners can be counseled on behavioral issues, and told of resources that could help the pet stay in their home. This also includes working with other animal welfare organizations or agencies, in efforts to decrease the Society’s intake rate, and increase the live release of pets from the shelter. This also includes getting pets healthy, rehabilitated, or trained in preparation for adoption. If the Carroll Co. Humane Society does not have adequate resources to do this, it must seek out, and work with, other organizations that do. Although it seems reasonable to assume that an organization called a “Humane Society” would do these things already, previous actions have demonstrated that this organization currently does not, so this must be specified in the contract. When they do otherwise, it does not serve the best interest of the community, or the pets that come into their care.
• The Society should have both a Trap, Neuter, Return program, and a Barn Cat Program for under socialized, free roaming cats. This type of cat accounted for 324 of the animals killed at the shelter in 2012. When possible, free roaming cats should be trapped, vaccinated, altered, and returned to where they live, to control the population, and ensure the public safety. A Barn Cat program should be implemented for cats that cannot remain where they are. Without these programs, there is no alternative to killing these cats, as they do not make suitable pets. As we are a rural, farming community, this type of program is very appropriate for our county.
I ask that the County and the Society work together to design a program that will provide low cost spay neuter options for Carroll Co. pet owners who need assistance.
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