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Animal advocates to urge reform at Baltimore County shelter

Animal advocates claim this cat received no treatment for a broken jaw during his stay at the Baltimore County animal shelter.
Animal advocates claim this cat received no treatment for a broken jaw during his stay at the Baltimore County animal shelter.Animal Advocates of Baltimore County

Animal welfare advocates in Baltimore County, Md., plan to hold a rally next month to highlight what they say is a need for better treatment of animals at the county shelter in Baldwin.

The event is scheduled for April 7 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. outside the Historic Courthouse at 400 Washington Avenue in Towson. It will coincide with a county council meeting that begins at 6 p.m. in that building.

Rally organizers contend that animals at the shelter live in unsanitary conditions, including poorly cleaned cages and food bowls, and sometimes wait weeks for vital veterinary care. For instance, they allege that a white male cat named Tobias received no treatment for a painful broken jaw during the two weeks he spent in the shelter. Only after he was pulled from the facility by a rescue group did he undergo surgery to fix his jaw.

"The current shelter administration has failed to make proper animal care a priority," according to a “platform” provided by activist Nicole Larin. "Baltimore County residents will not tolerate the neglect and continued deprivation of veterinary care occurring" at the shelter.

Organizers also say the shelter should take steps, such as expanding business hours and increasing collaboration with rescue groups, to find more homes for its animals and lower its euthanasia rate, which was 63 percent in 2012. Replacing the county's feral cat “trap-and-kill” policy with one that supports trap-neuter-return would also save lives, they assert.

Monique Lyle, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the shelter, declined to comment on the organizers’ concerns, but noted that the county announced in October that it plans to replace the shelter with a new, larger $5 million building that would improve animal care and increase adoptions. At the time of the announcement, Gregory Branch, the department’s director, said that “over the years, we have received numerous complaints about our aging facility from potential adopters and animal advocates.”

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