Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rescue Organizations-A Huge Piece of the Puzzle

     Another post….another round of ads! A million thanks to 
Save 90's newest advertising supporters: 
Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection, 
Nationwide Nissan, and 
The Jewelry Lady.
     Their ads will appear below, as well as thank you's from the most recent animal rescue organizations to benefit from our advertisers'  generosity. 
     First, two quick news items:
1) Baltimore County is accepting applications for a new 
Chief of Animal Services. This would be a replacement for Charlotte Crenson (whose name you will see later in this blog post.) The question is, will the county hire someone who is dedicated to the kinds of programs aimed at saving every life possible? 
2) Baltimore County has awarded the bid for construction of the new animal shelter to Roy Kirby and Sons. They have begun construction.
Now on to this week's post:
Rescue Organizations: A Huge Piece of the Puzzle
     Most everyone has heard of animal rescue organizations and has some idea of what they do. But you might be surprised at all they accomplish, the difficulty of their never-ending work, the amount of money they must raise to do that work, and their vital role in saving the lives of animals in animal shelters.
    It's difficult to know the exact number of animal rescue organizations, but we know it's high. We get some idea just from the number that are affiliated with Petfinder. 
     Petfinder's Director of Shelter Outreach, Sara Kent, says, "Close to half of the 13 thousand + membership in Petfinder is comprised of foster-based rescue groups." These are groups that place animals in volunteer foster homes while they work to find forever homes. 
     Where do these animals come from? From animal shelters mostly. As a result, rescues play a huge role in saving the lives of animals in shelters. 
      Says Barbara Healy of the MD SPCA, "Rescue groups that have foster homes available are great resources for shelter animals who are too stressed, fearful or shut down in a shelter/kennel environment. Often behavior issues a dog may display in the shelter environment are not exhibited in a home environment, which will allow the dog to be adopted more quickly."
     In addition, adopting families have the benefit of a great deal of information about the pet, learned while it's in foster care. Foster parents often know whether an animal is housebroken, whether it's friendly with children and other animals, if it needs lots of exercise or is very sedentary, etc. This information can be so important when it comes to choosing the right "forever" home. 
     Animal shelters like BARCS in Baltimore City rely heavily on rescues to increase their live release rate and reduce their euthanasia numbers. 
    BARCS Executive Director Jen Brause took over the 
Baltimore City shelter in 2005 when it became a 501 c3. She says, "When we first took over, the shelter only worked with one rescue group. That was one of the first things we changed. We work with hundreds of rescues now and send them over 3 thousand animals a year." 
     With 12 thousand animals arriving at BARCS each year, getting 3000 (25%) out is huge. The task falls largely to BARCS' Rescue Coordinator, Juliette Crosson. Watch this video to meet Juliette and see some of the amazing work that she does. 
Now that you've seen what real coordination with rescue groups looks like, let's talk about Baltimore County Animal Services (BCAS), our Baltimore County Animal Shelter which is run by the Baltimore County Health Dept.
     There has been a great deal of concern that BCAS does not adequately work with rescue groups. 
     Some of these groups have complained that it has been difficult to work with BCAS. Some feel underutilized. I asked one local group that pulls many animals from BARCS and the MD SPCA if they get pleas from the Baltimore County Shelter. She tells me, "Rescue pleas do come from time to time, but rarely. Instead we will occasionally hear form volunteers (vs. staff) asking if we can pull a specific animal or …animals".
     One animal rescue group, Fancy Cats Rescue Team, has filed suit in U.S. District Court against Baltimore County, as well as the Director of Animal Control, Charlotte Crenson. The suit charges that Crenson retaliated against Fancy Cats after the group complained about the health of cats coming to them from the shelter and about several cats that didn't survive.
     On June 2, 2013, Fancy Cats sent an email to Crenson raising serious concerns about the cats that had died. It also said that in comparison with other shelters with which the rescue group worked, the level of illness in cats coming from the Baltimore County Animal Shelter was "staggering." 
     Later that day, Crenson sent an email back to Fancy Cats removing the organization from the shelter's rescue partners list.
     The county refuses comment on the suit.
     To be fair, there has been some increase in the number of animals that are going to rescue from BCAS. In 2013, the shelter sent 275 cats and 209 dogs (484 animals total) to rescue. In 2014, from January 1st until November 10th, the 
Baltimore County Animal Shelter sent 405 cats and 195 (600 animals total) to rescues. 
     An improvement, yes. But if you compare this number with BARCS, which sends 3000 animals to rescues each year, Baltimore County comes up very short.
     The Baltimore County Animal Shelter is failing to take advantage of one of the greatest resources for saving lives and decreasing its 50% euthanasia rate. 
     It takes work to create strong relationships with rescues. It takes dedication to contact them and follow up each time a good candidate for rescue comes through the door. The question is whether Baltimore County believes that each animal's life is worth the effort.  
     If manpower is an issue, Baltimore County should take advantage of volunteers (something I've suggested numerous times on this blog.) As I've mentioned before, BARCS has 400 volunteers. The MD SPCA has 800. The Baltimore County Animal Shelter has 20. 
    This is the way it all comes together. A successful shelter must come at the problem of homeless animals from numerous angles, by coordinating extensively with rescues, creating a strong and well-trained volunteer force, and developing a thriving foster program. 
     Do it all and guess what happens? Live release rates go up. Euthanasia rates go down. And the 
Baltimore County Animal Shelter can begin moving toward saving 90% of the animals in its care. That's what Save 90 is all about. 

Next post will look at rescue from the perspective of animal rescue groups.
Now on to happy news. This week's ads from 
Betsy Robinson Bridal Collection, 
Nationwide Nissan, and 
The Jewelry Lady.

I hope you'll support Save 90's growing list of Baltimore County business 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
Graul's Market
Zibazz Hair Studio
Linens and Lingerie
Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection
Nationwide Nissan
The Jewelry Lady

As you know all money raised from these ads is going to animal rescue groups. Each time the amount reaches $750, I write a check for that amount to one of these groups.
Total raised: $3090. 
Newest recipients:
  • Adopt A Homeless Animal
  • Feline Rescue Association and
  • Tara's House Animal Rescue
Thank you to our advertisers who make these donations possible!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Shelter Hits the Road

     Before we get to the main subject of today's post, some timely news about shelters in our area. This week, the 
MD Dept. of Agriculture announced recipients of 475 thousand dollars in grants, aimed at reducing intake and euthanasia numbers at our state's animal shelters. 
     The plan was to accomplish this goal by increasing low-income residents' access to spay and neuter services. 
     Fifty-one non profit and governmental organizations applied for the grants. Fourteen have been chosen to receive money, among them, BARCS (Baltimore City's animal shelter), the MD SPCA, and the Baltimore Humane Society. 
    The Baltimore County Animal Shelter did apply for this money but was not chosen as one of the grant recipients.
     I spoke with Jane Mallory, the Program Coordinator for this grants program at the MD Dept. of Agriculture about why the Baltimore County Animal Shelter did not win one of the grants.
     She told me that those chosen included shelters offering spay and neuter services for free. Baltimore County's grant request involved creating more outreach and advertising for its current  spay and neuter program, which provides spay and neuter services for $65 for dogs and $50 for cats. 
     With grant money limited, the MD Dept. of Agriculture selected those programs that would do more for low-income residents, and determined "free" is better than "low-cost." Some of the grant winners even offered transportation to and from spay/neuter locations.
     The Dept. of Agriculture plans to communicate with those who did not win grants to tell them how they can improve their chance of success when next year's grants are awarded. I hope the county is able to secure a grant next year, as low-income county residents could certainly benefit from it.
    That aside, I want to express enormous thanks to this week's Save 90 advertisers. They are three more Baltimore County businesses that care about the animals in the 
Baltimore County Animal Shelter, and support the concepts expressed in this blog.
 They are:
 Graul's Market
 Zibazz Hair Studio 
Linens & Lingerie
Here are their ads:

These businesses now add their names to 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
Graul's Market
Zibazz Hair Studio
Linens and Lingerie

     I hope you'll give your business to these companies that care about our community's animals. They have helped Save 90 raise $2360.00 (that number just keeps climbing!) All money goes to area animal rescue organizations like 
Animal Allies Rescue Foundation (AARF).

    Two more checks will be written next week to 
Adopt a Homeless Animal and The Feline Rescue Association. 

Now on to this week's post, "The Shelter Hits the Road":
     Running an animal shelter must be a little like the 
"I Love Lucy" episode where the chocolates go faster and faster on the conveyor belt. Administrators must constantly find ways to get animals out alive, as a never-ending stream of dogs and cats continues to pour through the door. 
     It's not often that something new offers a whole new way to promote adoption. But that's what's happened at BARCS, the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter.  
    This extraordinary adoption tool has been fondly named the BFF Waggin. It's a beautiful new van, specially equipped to take shelter animals out into the community. There, they can meet potential adopters in pleasant, friendly surroundings. 
      The BFF Waggin boasts secure cages that can accommodate up to 33 dogs and cats. It has heat and A/C, running water, and a fridge. 
     And can you believe it...this amazing vehicle, with a price tag of 150 thousand dollars, came to BARCS through an anonymous gift.
     The BFF Waggin hit Baltimore's streets this past August, and has 5 adoptions under its (fan) belt….several more if you count those people who were at BFF Waggin events, decided to visit the shelter, and adopted dogs there.
       A few weeks ago, organizers of Baltimore Beach Volleyball invited BARCS to bring the BFF Waggin to a tournament at Rash Field. 
Take a look.

     You might see the BFF Waggin driving the streets of Bal-timore or at partner stores such as Pet Smart, Petco, and Pet Valu. Organizers can also request a visit from the BFF Waggin, so you'll be seeing it at special events and festivals too. 
     Just think of all the potential adopters this vehicle will reach who may have never gone to BARCS. They'll meet animals in relaxed settings, more likely to allow the dogs and cats to show their true personalities. This, of course, makes them more likely to be adopted.
     I don't know the name of the anonymous donor who gave this generous gift. I'm not privy to the reasons why he or she chose BARCS as the donation's recipient. 
     I imagine it may have had something to do with the dedication of BARCS employees and volunteers, and the amazing work they do to find loving homes for close to 80% of the 12 thousand animals that come through the shelter each year. 
     Just imagine: what would happen if Baltimore County Animal Services decided to emulate BARCS...creating similar programs for enrichment, volunteers, and coordination with rescues? What if Baltimore County even decided to let a 501c3 run the shelter in a public/private partnership with the county, just as BARCS does with Baltimore City?
     I believe that will be the day when philanthropic animal lovers will choose the Baltimore County Animal Shelter as the recipient of their charitable donations. 
     Just imagine how these changes would improve the lives of animals in the shelter. Just imagine how many more of them would find happy, forever homes. This is what Save 90 is all about. 
     I can see it. Can you? 
    If so, let your county representatives know it. That's the first step to making it a reality.