Friday, June 12, 2015

Emergency! Full Shelter

     This is an unexpected post because of the current difficult situation at The Baltimore County Animal Shelter (BCAS). The shelter is beyond full. 
     This is not an uncommon occurrence, since BCAS is the county's open admission shelter. That means it must accept every animal that comes through the door whether it's an owner surrender or is brought in as a stray by Animal Control.
     When kennels are full, animals must be euthanized to make space. Some animals have reportedly already been put down this week.
     Animal overpopulation is not the fault of the shelter. Not only that, but the people in charge there (including the new Chief of Animal Services, Dr. Melissa Jones) appear to care deeply about the animals and have been scrambling to find ways to get animals out alive to make room for more. 
     This is a difficult task, and it's an issue that needs to be taken up by the Animal Services Oversight Commission which was created by the Baltimore County Council.
     Unfortunately, the Commission has not had its first meeting because county officials have yet to work out the logistics for it to happen. This needs to be resolved ASAP. 
     In the meantime, a number of animal advocates have proposed ideas to begin to ease the overcrowding crisis, and they seem to have merit. Here are a few that make a lot of sense. 

1.) Begin requiring those surrendering their pets to make an appointment to do so. In cases where the person surrendering the animal is in crisis, this wait period obviously could be waived. But in many cases, people can and will wait at least a few days. 
       This is something that's done by many shelters for two reasons. It allows them to plan for some of their intake, and sometimes it even results in owners deciding they can keep their pets after all. That's because the shelter is able to offer them access to services that would help them keep their pet.

2.) One of those services would be low or no cost veterinary care.      The shelter would need to develop a network of veterinarians who could offer services at low or no cost. This would be a tremendous help to those who can't afford veterinary care, and might alleviate the need for them to surrender their pet.

3.) Another needed service is behavioral training as many people give up their animals because of behavioral problems. If the shelter had arrangements with behavioral trainers, that would be another service it could offer to pet owners. In fact, what an amazing thing it would be to offer low cost obedience classes right at the shelter. I know there are trainers in this area who would be willing to be a part of that effort. 

3.) Begin a training program for animals when they arrive in the shelter. Well-behaved pets are much more adoptable, and are less likely to cause problems once they are adopted that could land them back in the shelter. There are trainers in our area who will surely be willing to offer training to shelter staff and/or volunteers in how to do some basic obedience work. 

4.) Start a pet food bank with donations from the public. Save 90 would be willing to make a donation to get it started. If a family is in financial crisis and cannot afford to feed their pet, this could help them avoid the need to give it up.

5.) Put out press releases. I think this goes against the county's way of doing things because authorities don't want to seem like they don't have everything under control. But the animal overpopulation problem is not under anyone's immediate control. And when it gets out of hand, there's no shame in asking for help. Baltimore County should put out a press release, asking the media to publicize the overcrowding problem so that the public can respond by coming to adopt/foster animals. This is not a position of weakness. It's a position of strength to ask for help when it's needed. Many people would want to help, but can't if they don't know there's a problem.

6.) Offer reduced rates for adoptions. This could be part of the press release and could be publicized along with an appeal for adopters and fosters. Reduced fees worked very well at the shelter over the Memorial Day holiday.

     Save 90 hopes that shelter administrators will consider these options as a way to ease the current crisis. I know Dr. Jones is trying to save every life possible and that this is a particularly stressful time. I hope she knows she's not alone in feeling the pain and that there are many who want to help in any way they can.

Please scroll down to see the most recent Save 90 post with the latest news and a report on an amazing program called Project Mickey.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lotsa News and Project Mickey!

     As usual, there's a lot to report. But before we get started I want to extend a big thanks you to Save 90's newest advertisers:
Octavia Boutique
Andy's Animals

You'll find their ads below the text of this post as well as a complete lists of Save 90 advertisers, personal contributors, and recipients of Save 90.

Let's get started.
The Animal Services Oversight Commission is ready to roll.
     Finally! All is in place for the Commission to begin its work. Although 4th District Councilman Julian Jones has not made his appointment to the Commission, 2nd District Councilwoman Vicki Almond says she wanted things to get up and running by June 1st. So, the Commission will go ahead and hold its first meeting. That should happen soon.
     1st District Councilman Tom Quirk made the most recent Commission appointment, choosing Darla Feeheley for the post. Feelehey's appointment brought a shower of praise on Facebook...she's being hailed as a great choice.
     County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has announced his appointments as well. Kamenetz was required to make two at large appointments, one veterinarian appointment, and one representative of a humane organization or animal shelter. Here are his choices:
  • Two at large appointments: Leslie Kaminski (Currently serves on the Baltimore County Animal Control Board) and James P. O'Neill (former Director of Corrections in Baltimore County)
  • Veterinarian: Dr. Jocelyn Spiga (currently a vet at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter)
  • Animal Shelter Representative: Kevin Reed (Reed is the Baltimore County Deputy Director for Finance and Administration in Health and Human Services with direct responsibility for the fiscal management of the shelter) 
     Some people have posted negatively about the 
County Executive's appointments on Facebook. Surely this stems from past distrust between the Administration and animal advocates, but Save 90 urges everyone to put aside that cynicism and negativity. 
     The Administration's mindset concerning the shelter has changed in so many great ways. Don't presume that people who work for the County will join the Commission with negative goals. Let's give the Commission a chance to do its work. 

Really Good Stuff 
     It would be difficult to overstate the number of wonderful comments coming out of the Baltimore County Animal Shelter (BCAS) these days. All indications are that its new leader, 
Dr. Melissa Jones, is dedicated to positive change with the welfare of the animals her paramount concern. 
These are just a few of the good things happening at BCAS: 

  • As cats like this one flood into area shelters during kitten season, BCAS is joining the Baltimore Animal Welfare Alliance (BAWA) in offering free cat adoptions during the month of June. The MD SPCA, BARCS, and the Baltimore Humane Society (members of BAWA) are leading what is known as the Baltimore 500. The aim is to save the lives of 500 cats. The decision to participate in BAWA events is a leap forward for BCAS. 
  • BCAS is participating in an offsite adoption event! To kick off the Baltimore 500, BCAS is taking part in an adoption event at the Cat Hospital at Towson (CHAT) this Saturday, June 6th from 11 AM-2PM.
  • The shelter is connecting itself to the greater animal community by reaching out to ask for donations. Generous volunteers have provided many donations including milk replacer for kittens, thunder shirts, temporary kitty litter boxes, etc. 
  • BCAS's Memorial Day half-price adoption event (from May 17-25) was highly successful. 44 animals were adopted (23 cats and 21 dogs). This is a substantial increase over last year's event when 28 pets were adopted.
     Here's what seems to be most evident in the stories we're hearing and in what we see when we visit the 
Baltimore County Animal Shelter these days. There appears to be a growing shift, moving the shelter toward a more forward-thinking that embraces modern day procedures and works to save as many lives as possible. 
     There's still a great deal of work to be done but those in charge seem excited to do that work. 
     We've come light years in less than 12 months. It feels like everything is moving in the right direction.

     BCAS continues to allow me to shoot videos of the animals for the Baltimore County Animal Services Facebook page. Here's a short video about Paeley, one of the great dogs I met on a recent visit. 

     By the way, Shelter Supervisor Cat Kelly, (who you saw in that video) gets rave reviews. She spent a recent day off driving two kittens to Virginia for rescue. How awesome is that?

Project Mickey-A Program With Big Goals for Little People
     Many people in our area work tirelessly to improve the lives of animals. Every once in a while, their efforts result in programs that provide answers in new and unique ways. 
     So it was with Kate Callahan of an animal welfare organization called Jasmine's House. Kate had heard many news stories about animal abuse perpetrated by kids and teens, and wanted to find a way to address the problem at its root.
     She talked with Heidi Trasatti, a psychologist in the Baltimore City School system. Heidi devised a curriculum, now called 
Project Mickey, which she takes into kindergarten, 4th, and 5th grade Baltimore classrooms. Through Project Mickey, she nurtures positive attitudes toward animals by teaching children about pets, their needs, and their feelings. 
    Save 90 recently visited a kindergarten Project Mickey lesson at Franklin Square Elementary. What happened there was heartwarming. Check it out in this brief video and see for yourself! 

     Project Mickey was named for a malnourished 8-week-old puppy named Mickey, taken in by BARCS after he was thrown from a car window. Sadly, he later died. But his spirit lives on through Project Mickey, and the lessons it shares with Baltimore children.

Now, the latest Save 90 ads from Octavia Boutique and 

The complete list of Save 90 advertisers ( Save 90 hopes you'll support them):
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
The Little Shoebox
Window Consultants, Inc.
Matava Shoes
Gourmet Again
Four Corners Travel
Charles Levine Caterers
Len Stoler Auto Group
Eddie's of Roland Park on North Charles Street
Studio 111
Great Finds and Designs
Stone Mill Bakery
The Manor Shopping Center Merchants Association
The Silberstein Insurance Group: Employee Benefits Consultants 
The Suburban House Restaurant
Zibazz Day Spa and Makeup Art
Steven Caplan, Esq.
Anne George (Bark Busters)
Greetings and Readings
Mary Jane Buettner, Author
About Faces
Stevenson Village Veterinary Hospital
Cavalier Realty
Octavia Boutique
Andy's Animals

Individual Contributors to Save 90:
Jim and Bonnie Hunter
Marty Sitnick
Elmo Barranco
Eric Brennan
Amy Elias

Recipients of Save 90:
Animal Allies Rescue Foundation
Adopt a Homeless Animal
Feline Rescue Association
Tara's House
Bella's Bully Buddies
Homeward Trails
Recycled Love
Baltimore Humane Society
Rescue Well

If you know of a business that would like to buy an ad or an individual who would like to donate to Save 90, please ask them to email me at

Thank you!