Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Administrative Shakeup at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter

This was an unexpected post because of the sudden changes at the shelter. So, no ads on this post. Ads will resume with the next Save 90 post.

     Major administrative changes are underway at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter (BCAS) but Save 90 can't tell you much about them. Questions sent to the county two days ago (May 4) remain unanswered.
     Here's what we know.
     On Friday, May 1, 2015, the county removed 
Acting Chief of Animal Services Laura Culbertson and replaced her with Dr. Melissa Jones, one of the shelter's veterinarians.
     Baltimore County Health Dept. spokeswoman, Monique Lyle, has confirmed that 
Dr. Jones' title is Chief of Animal Services, so clearly she is Laura Culbertson's permanent replacement. 
     Save 90 was not able to officially learn where Culbertson has been reassigned but one person who says she spoke with Culbertson says she has been named Public Health Administrator. 
     In addition, the county has also reassigned Katarina (Kat) Stice. Many say Stice is particularly wonderful in working with the shelter's animals. Why she would be removed is unknown.
     Here are questions Save 90 has asked the Health Dept. without response so far:

1) Why were these changes made?
2) Where have Laura and Kat Stice been placed?
3) Many felt Kat Stice was a particularly great advocate for the animals…why was she replaced?
4) How long has Dr. Jones been at BCAS?
5)  What is Dr. Jones’ background?
6)  Is Dr. Jones my new contact at the shelter? How do I reach her? Calling the shelter is impossible. No one answers.

   Several months ago, Baltimore County posted a job opening for the position of 
Chief of Animal Services. Before any interviews took place, all candidates were informed their interviews were cancelled. County officials said they had decided to leave things as they were for the time being with Laura Culbertson as Acting Chief.
     Now the county has appointed a new Chief without any press release or effort to notify outsiders what is happening in the shelter.
      Clearly, personnel issues are sensitive. But there's a real need for transparency here as well. The shelter is a hot button issue and many concerned animal advocates want to know what's happening there. 
     Not only have animal advocates been left out of the loop, but apparently so have members of the Baltimore County Council. Save 90 has spoken with 
Councilman Wade Kach and people in Councilwoman Vicki Almond's office. They are attempting to find out what's going on.
     There's a pretty obvious question here: Why the secrecy?
     On Friday, May 8th, (several days after this post), I emailed Don Mohler, the County Executive's Chief of Staff regarding Dr. Jones' appointment. He replied, "We are very excited about her assuming the duties as the Chief of Animal Services. As you know, we have been very deliberate in our efforts to find just the right person for the shelter, and we think Dr. Jones’ expertise as a veterinarian and her people skills make her a perfect fit for this position...
Really good things are happening at the shelter, and these changes are just one more example of those changes."
     Save 90 believes good things are happening at the shelter.It would be helpful if it weren't so difficult to learn about changes as they take place. Openness benefits everyone and helps create a perception that we're all working together for a common goal. 
A few other items
Plans for one of the spay/neuter satellites:
    District 7 Baltimore County Councilman Todd Crandell has announced the location of one of the two planned spay/neuter/microchipping satellites in Baltimore County. It will be located at the health center property at Merritt Point Park in Dundalk.
     The location of the second spay/neuter satellite has not yet been announced.

Reduced Shelter Fees:
     Baltimore County is reducing adoption and spay/neuter costs. Effective June 15, the price for adopting dogs will fall from $65 to $50, and cats from $50 to $40. The adoption fee covers spaying or neutering the pet, a microchip, deworming, a license and initial shots.     
     County residents who bring in pets for spaying or neutering (animals not adopted from BCAS) will pay $20 for cats and dogs and $10 for microchipping. 
     The county will continue to offer periodic adoption fee discounts, as well as free pet adoptions for veterans during the week of Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
     Save 90 applauds the changes. Anything that encourages more people to spay and neuter their pets helps bring down the number of unwanted animals.

The Last Two Animal Commission Appointments Expected:
    District 4 Baltimore County Councilman Julian Jones says he plans to announce his appointment to the Animal Services Oversight Commission by the end of this week (today is Wednesday). A spokesman for First District Councilman Tom Quirk said she also expected an announcement this week. 
     County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has said he will announce his appointments as soon as all Council members have announced theirs. That would complete all 11 appointments, and the Commission could finally begin its work.

     Save 90 will be posting other items soon including information on a visit to two other shelters in our area, the Washington Humane Society and the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. What they are accomplishing is amazing. 


1 comment:

  1. It really sounds like there are a lot of changes that are being made in the shelter. I would be curious if that had to do with certain laws that were being changed. That definitely is a great way to ensure that someone is knowing that their animal was being taken care of. It's interesting as well that you're lowering your prices. Thank you for sharing.


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