Monday, December 8, 2014

Rescue Groups-How they do it

     A lot of news to report on this post...perhaps the most since I started writing Save 90. I have news about the 
Chief of Animal Services job, remarks by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz on a radio show last week, as well as Save 90's second video on rescue. 
     In the first video on my last post, we saw how rescues work hand in hand with animal shelters. This time, we'll examine how rescue organizations accomplish their work, how they pay for it, and how they change the lives of so many animals. 
     First I want to thank Save 90's newest advertisers: The Big Screen Store and The Sofa Store, Barre. at the Quarry, and The Lichter Group. 
     You'll find their ads below the text of this post as well as a tally of funds raised through these ads for animal rescue groups. 
Now, some news:
     On my last post, I reported that Baltimore County was going to begin interviewing applicants for a new Chief of Animal Services. 
     One of those applying for the job was Jen Swanson, now the Executive Director of thBaltimore Humane Society. Last week, Jen got a phone call from the county, informing her that her interview was cancelled. 
     To learn why, I emailed Monique Lyle, the 
Public Information Officer for the Baltimore County Health Dept. which runs the county shelter.
     Lyle replied, "We did not attract a sufficient number of candidates to evaluate so we have cancelled all interviews. We are evaluating how we want to move forward."
     When I asked how many had applied, she answered that about a dozen had done so. That would seem like a rather large group of applicants. And, as I mentioned earlier, the list included someone who currently runs a shelter in our area, Jen Swanson. 
     I don't know who the other applicants were, or their qualifications, but it's difficult to understand why county officials didn't think it worth their time to interview Swanson and learn what she would bring to the table.  
    Says Swanson, "I'm very disappointed. I really thought I had a good shot at it, and I was looking forward to getting in there and helping save animals while also protecting public safety."
     A staff member of one Baltimore County Council member wrote a local animal advocate about the matter, "I have been given the impression that the County Executive and Dr. Branch are looking for a candidate that is in step with their political philosophy as it relates to Animal Services. That may be why Ms. Swanson, as qualified as she might be, is not being chosen."
     Here's the only way I can interpret this: anyone with differing views on how the shelter should be run has absolutely no shot at  getting the job.
     That's disappointing to say the least because, while there have been some improvements at the shelter, and construction has begun on a new shelter facility, it's not what's needed most. What is called for is a change in philosophy, a move toward a mindset like the one that guides BARCS, the shelter in Baltimore City. 
     BARCS is the equivalent of the Baltimore County Shelter in that it's an open admission shelter. It must accept every animal surrendered by pet owners as well as every animal picked up as a stray on the streets of the city.
     BARCS takes in almost two and a half times as many animals as the Baltimore County Shelter. Yet it accomplishes so much more...more rescue coordination, more volunteers, more fosters, more enrichment, more concern over each animal's life. While Baltimore County's euthanasia rate is 50%, BARCS' euthanasia rate is just over 20%. 
     For reasons I cannot comprehend, that kind of operation is apparently not in step with the county's political philosophy as it relates to Animal Services. 

On to the title of this post: Rescue Groups-How They Do It
     Two point seven million. 
     The Humane Society of the United States estimates that's the number of healthy animals killed in U-S animal shelters in 2012. It's just a number...until you think about each individual healthy life that ends prematurely with an injection or inside a gas chamber. 
     In my last post, we looked at the ways rescue organizations help reduce the number of animals killed in animal shelters. 
     Now let's see how rescue groups carry out their life-saving work. I spent time with the volunteer members of 
Animal Allies Rescue Foundation, also known as AARF, one of the animal rescue groups in the Baltimore area. AARF has saved almost 500 animals since it formed in 2012. Take a  look.

     Animals that land in shelters and are taken out by rescue groups are all too often victims of the shortcomings of human beings. It's our job as caring people to do what we can to help them heal and stop their suffering. That's what rescue groups are all about.
     Here's where Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz comes in. On Dec. 3rd, he was a guest on the C4 show on 
WBAL Radio. A caller asked why the shelter is killing so many animals. Her approach was confrontational and not constructive. She stood little chance of getting a good response as a result. 
     That said, here is what Kamenetz had to say: 
     "You have to really understand what the role is of Baltimore County. We take animals of last resort...the animals that no one else wants. No one else wants to adopt them or they're abandoned or they're disfigured and we then always have to take those animals. A lot of private shelters, when they reach their capacity, they stop taking new pets in."
    These are not animals of last resort. The shelter is a place of last resort for them. They are not the animals no one else wants. They are the animals someone doesn't want. 
     It's clear from the video above, rescue groups do want these pets, so much so, in fact, that they raise thousands upon thousands of dollars to get them medical care. Then they give them to families who want to take these pets home and love them forever.
     My first rescue, Arthur, was a perfect example. You'll see his picture above. Ironically, I found him at the 
Baltimore County Animal Shelter about 25 years ago. He had been picked up on the streets as a stray. He was filthy, his hair matted from root to end. At first glance, it was difficult to imagine anyone wanting him.  
     I had him groomed and took him home. He was beautiful and sweet and I loved him until he died 13 years later. 
     Is it possible that our county officials don't see what's underneath the dirt, the matting, the injuries, fear, and anxiety? Do they really believe these animals are different from pets that come from breeders? The only difference between them is the fact that shelter pets have been unwanted, neglected or abused. 
     It's true, our Baltimore County shelter cannot pick and choose which animals it accepts. It must take in every animal that comes through its doors. But that's not an excuse for placing too little value on each life. 
     Not every one of them can be saved. Some are too sick, too old, or too aggressive. But if we believe it's worth trying to save as many a possible, that is a shift in perspective. It has the potential to move us along the road to saving 90.

Now for Save 90's latest ads from The Big Screen Store and Sofa Store, Barre. at the Quarry, and the Lichter Group.

Here's 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
Betsy Robinson's Bridal Collection
Nationwide Nissan
The Jewelry Lady
The Big Screen Store and The Sofa Store
Barre at the Quarry
The Lichter Group

     I hope you'll support these businesses. Their ads have contributed $3910 to Save 90. As a result, I'm preparing to write my 5th check for $750 to an area animal rescue group. More on that in the next post. 
     If you know of a Baltimore County business owner who might like to advertise on Save 90, please ask them to contact me at
    Special thanks to Jennifer Kahn for her help on Save 90 this week!


  1. I am deeply saddened by the comments County Executive Kamenetz. It is obvious that he has not spent much if any time in an animal shelter. If he had, he'd know that the main reasons animals end up at a shelter have more to do with the failings of people than issues with the animal. And even then, the fault of the issues most often lies with human beings.

    Thank you for this Blog and keeping the conversation going.

  2. I'm so excited to see you involved in this issue. So often we feel demoralized trying to affect change at BCAS. We feel devalued by our county representative. I can say with certainty that he does not represent my wishes for an improved shelter in Baltimore County. I hope that your friends in the media are willing to investigate to see if all of the practices at BCAS follow their own codes and laws. And if any of their practices to the community violate any laws under the ACLU. Thank you for your contribution to this WORTHY cause. It is my hope that we can change the philosophy at Baltimore County Animal Shelter in Baldwin, and make it the MODEL of what good sheltering should be.! For $6 million bucks of our tax dollars, I'd like to be able to be proud of it.


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