Friday, February 27, 2015

Baltimore County Takes a Giant Step Forward-Thank You to our County Executive!

     Well, what can I say? After months of calling for change at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter, the beginnings of change are now at our doorstep. Baltimore County has announced plans to alter its animal services in several very important ways. The county will

  • Implement a pilot TNR program (see my previous post to learn all about TNR)
  • Create two new full-time positions at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter: 1) a volunteer coordinator and 2) a foster care coordinator, both of which will facilitate greater adoption opportunities
  • Expand low-cost spay and neuter programs through satellite locations on the east and west sides of the county this spring and summer
     It turns out that over the past months, County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has had an ongoing dialogue with Jen Brause, the Executive Director of the Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS).  
     I've long seen Jen as a dedicated, pragmatic and knowledgeable shelter administrator who has created remarkable life-saving progress at BARCS. Clearly, Kamenetz recognized those qualities as well. I cannot commend him enough for reaching out to her. And I thank Jen for offering her time and expertise to the county.
     All of the new shelter plans have been announced as the county moves toward the opening of its new shelter facility, which is under construction and is scheduled to open this fall. 

     On another front, the County Council recently approved a bill that will create a Commission to look into shelter issues and make recommendations. The members of that Commission should be announced soon.
     So, the months ahead will be very busy and there's a lot of work to be done. There are many (including me) who would like to see Baltimore County replicate the actions of Baltimore City which created a public/private partnership with BARCS, allowing it to become a non-profit organization. The same kind of partnership would allow the Baltimore County Animal Shelter greater autonomy to implement change. Perhaps that may come down the road. 
     For now, let's give credit where credit is due. It's not easy to take a first step in a new direction. I hope all who've been clamoring for change will recognize the courage and vision this has taken and will send words of support to County Executive Kamenetz.

     And don't forget the dedicated county employees who work at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter. They've had to listen as criticism about the shelter swirled around them over the past months. They must be feeling a little anxious as the ground shifts beneath their feet. They work with the shelter's animals every day, and no doubt want what is best for them, as we all do. Let's give them encouragement. 
     I expect to interview County Executive Kamenetz soon and will include that taped interview on this blog. I hope all my readers will applaud him and give him support as he works for better outcomes for all of our county's animals.  

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