Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Statewide Solution

     O.K. Business first.
     Many thanks to the latest Baltimore County businesses who support the concepts expressed in this blog and are advertising on Save 90. The newest advertisers are: Larry Rosenberg of The Mark Building Company, 
Karen Weiner of Studio of Makeup, 
Barry Steinfelder of BJS Insurance, and 
Michael and Mitchell Parson of Parsonizing Fine Dry Cleaning. 
Here are Save 90's latest ads and don't forget…Support Our Sponsors! 
This is the growing list of Save 90 advertisers:                   
Chesapeake Contracting
Needles and Threads of Ruxton
Bare Necessities
Edie Brown Associates
The Mark Building Company
Studio of Makeup
BJS Insurance
Parsonizing Dry Cleaners

 Total money raised so far: $2070.00. All is going to area animal rescue organizations.
     Having Baltimore County businesses support these efforts is crucial. This sends our county government a message: The people at the heart of our county's economy want our shelter to emulate the great shelters that are its neighbors: the MD SPCA, the Baltimore Humane Society, and BARCS. 
     If you know a Baltimore County business that would like to place an "ad" on Save 90, please have them contact me at
    Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."
     Keep that in mind.
     This will get done.

Now on to today's post:
     I saw Ken Ulman (Democratic candidate for Lt. Gov.) recently and asked him for a comment on our state's animals. Here's what he had to say.

So, what might statewide support for Maryland animals look like? 
     It would be a challenge, because in Maryland, there is no cookie cutter animal shelter mold. Each county or jurisdiction has its own shelter. Some of these employ best practices and save most of the animals in their care. Some do not.
     So, whether a dog or cat gets out of a shelter alive is partly a matter of location. If it's lucky (a relative term!), it ends up in a shelter like BARCS in Baltimore City. BARCS has a foster program, extensive relationships with area rescue groups, and a large and active volunteer force. As a result, BARCS saves almost 80% of the 12 thousand animals that come through its doors each year. 
     Animals in many other Maryland shelters aren't so fortunate. For example, in Baltimore County, euthanasia rates are 50%. So, only half of the approximately 5000 animals there each year survive. 
     Imagine a statewide solution…legislation that would standardize the practices at Maryland shelters, requiring them to do what shelters like BARCS, the MD SPCA, and the Baltimore Humane Society do: place the highest priority on saving as many lives as possible. That means creating extensive relationships with rescue organizations, having a thriving foster program, as well as a large and active volunteer force. 
     Creating statewide standards is the goal behind "CAPA 4 Maryland". CAPA stands for "Companion Animal Protection Act." The state of Delaware passed a CAPA law in 2010. The state of California has something similar known as the Hayden Law. The group, 
"CAPA 4 Maryland" wants this kind of legislation in our state.  
     Tammy Zaluzney of CAPA for MD says, "CAPA basically mandates all the things good shelters do."
     Among other things, here's what she says CAPA would do:
1) Make euthanasia the last resort, requiring shelters to make lifesaving their primary goal.
2) Standardize public safety efforts as well as the relationship between shelters and animal rescue organizations. 
3) Provide transparency for taxpayers who are footing the shelter's bill.
     Zaluzney says her group is working on language for CAPA legislation to be introduced in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly, and is talking with potential sponsors of the legislation.
     But don't expect smooth sailing. One possible roadblock to this kind of law is that Maryland is what's known as a home rule state. That means cities, municipalities, and/or counties have the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit as long as they obey state and federal constitutions. Some counties will no doubt balk at statewide sheltering requirements.
     Will Baltimore County be one of them? I contacted the Baltimore County Health Dept. to ask. A spokesman declined to comment. 
     Since the legislation is not yet written, it's difficult to know if CAPA 4 Maryland is the right way to go. But on the face of it, the idea of standardized practices seems to make sense for animals as well as humans. Think of the Ebola epidemic. We would all hope that every state in our nation is on the same page there. 

     We'll be watching this issue as the MD General Assembly convenes in January of 2015. And no matter the outcome of next week's MD gubernatorial election, I surely hope our next governor is concerned about the animals in our state's shelters. If statewide rules make sense, I hope he supports them.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ads; The Good Kind!

     Are you ready for a game changer? Well, here it is. I'm initiating a new element on this blog. Save 90 will now feature "ads." These will not be typical advertisements. I'm engaging members of the Baltimore County business community and enlisting their support for the concepts behind Save 90.
     So, now you will see their "ads" on this page with every post.
     "Advertisers" will pay $90, $190, $290, well, you get the picture…any amount they want that includes the number "90". They will then have videos on this blog where they express their support for Save 90.
     All money raised will go into a Save 90 bank account, and each time the account balance reaches $750, I'll write a check for that amount to an area animal rescue group.
     I'll keep a running list on the blog of all "advertisers" and the total amount of money we've raised together, so you'll know which area businesses really care about the animals in our shelter. I hope you'll support them.
     And here's the best part. Our Baltimore County government will see that this issue matters, not just to individuals but also to the business owners whose jobs and taxes are the backbone of our county. When county officials see how many people want real change at our shelter, how can they justify doing things the same old way?
     I want to especially thank my first "advertisers":  Bobby Ginsberg of Chesapeake Contracting in Reisterstown, Judy Greer of Needles and Threads of Ruxton, the Fram family of Bare Necessities in Greenspring Station, and Edie Brown of Edie Brown Associates in Mays Chapel.
     Here is the first group of Save 90 "ads."

     Because of the generosity of our first advertisers and others who will appear on this blog soon, Save 90 has already written its first two checks of $750 each to area rescue organizations: Animal Allies Rescue Foundation (AARF) and Adopt a Homeless Animal (AAHA).    
     Here's how you can help. If you know a Baltimore County business owner who wants to "advertise" here and show their support for Save 90, have them contact me. I can be reached via email at
     We ARE making a difference together. Let's keep going.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Volunteers Work!

     If you want to touch a nerve on both sides of the debate over the Baltimore County Animal Shelter, just utter one word: volunteers. It may seem strange, but it's a fact. This is a real sore spot for many who want to see change at the shelter, as well as for officials in Baltimore County government.
     The argument officially dates back to 2012 when the Baltimore County Animal Shelter began accepting a small number of volunteers. Pretty soon some of them began agitating for change. 
     They started a Facebook page, photographed shelter animals and posted the pictures in an effort to increase adoptions. They were critical of shelter conditions and complained about decisions of the shelter administration. Sometimes they didn't follow rules. 
     As you might expect, this didn't sit well with county officials who felt these folks were pretty much just trouble makers. Ultimately a number of volunteers were let go. 
     Today Baltimore County's volunteer program is minimal. It includes just 20 volunteers. They are allowed only limited duties: dog and cat socialization and making toys and bedding. 
     "So what?" you may ask. "What difference does it make whether there are lots of volunteers or not?"
     The reason is that a thriving volunteer program is a critical piece of the puzzle at well-run shelters. It enables shelters to improve animals' lives while in the shelter and get more animals adopted. 
     BARCS, the shelter in Baltimore City, has over 400 active volunteers who work in numerous roles and put in approximately 38 thousand volunteer hours a year. 
     The MD SPCA has 800 volunteers who have worked over 45 thousand hours in the nine months from January through September of 2014! If these were paid hours, even at minimum wage, the SPCA has gotten over 326 thousand dollars worth of work this year for free.
     Watch this video to see the MD SPCA volunteer program in action.


     The MD SPCA isn't resting on its laurels. Its volunteer program is always open, and Volunteer Manager Katie Flory would love to see the number of volunteers grow. 
     So, one has to wonder: what is standing in the way of 
Baltimore County creating a thriving volunteer program at the 
Baltimore County Animal Shelter?
    Yes, some past volunteers created problems. Yes, these problems left a bad taste in the mouths of county officials. Yes, it's  a real problem when volunteers operate under their own auspices. They must come under the control and management of the facility for which they volunteer. 
     But what's past is past. That was then. This is now. 
     So, let's get started. Let's see the county create a structured volunteer program with great training, clear procedures, and real coordination. 
     If you look at BARCS, the MD SPCA, and many other shelters, it's obvious this can be accomplished. In fact, both BARCS and the MD SPCA have long offered to help the county make such a program a reality. 
     The county has not accepted this offer of assistance. I understand that asking for help isn't easy. It involves admitting that you need it. But there's no shame in it. 
     In my opinion, the smartest people do what they know best, and rely on others to help when it comes to things they don't know how to do.
     To be fair, this is clearly not the only project on the county's plate. Government is responsible for many things. The shelter is just one of them. But if you believe that animals matter, it's very important.
     As the county prepares to build a new $6 million shelter facility, it needs to think about how it will run things there. Adding a vibrant volunteer program is vital.
     It's time to enter the modern day world of animal sheltering. A volunteer program is a way to start.
     So, let's create a thriving volunteer program at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter. Then, we can sit back and enjoy all the unpaid help and dedication that volunteers bring to the table.
      I believe our county government wants to make our county the best it can be. This is one way to do it. Volunteers do work.