For years, animal advocates in Maryland have lost hours of sleep over a dirty little secret that they were always afraid to let the public in on. Because they feared there would be horrifying retribution that would harm the animals that were kept in this shelter.
I have spoken to someone involved in local animal rescue, one of their first ways to contribute was networking dogs on social media sites. This individual stated that all the other area shelters had no problems whatsoever in having their dogs shown around online (as long as the content of the post was accurate), so that rescue organizations and maybe even adopters could see them and possibly save them from a unnecessary death. There was only one shelter who would not allow any of their dogs to be shown online, that shelter was Baltimore County Animal Shelter in Baldwin, MD. At one point an employee had told this advocate that the staff at the Baldwin Shelter was not allowed to let the animals go out on the email lists or social networks and were threatened that if they did send out pictures and information, they were to be either reprimanded or fired. Other staff members were directed to check all the social media sites to make sure that they didn’t see the faces of the Baldwin animals there. What was even more horrifying to the rescuers and advocates was the threat that the administrators would no longer let rescues in to save the lives of the few animals that would make it out. Why? Why not let these dogs and cats have a chance of a loving home? Was it too much trouble for the staff to answer the phone? Too much trouble to accept an adoption application or have a rescue come in to take a dog or a cat? Or were they trying to hide something?
It has been discovered that maybe hiding something was part of it, an uncaring staff and administration maybe another part. Now there are stories coming out testifying that dogs and cats have been lying in this shelter, ill and ignored, many times on wet floors and in their own excrement. How for years there have been rusting latches holding up water containers that are frozen in state and cannot be properly cleaned, just refilled when they are dry and sometimes not even then, just left dry. Animals lying in feces, feces on the walls, floors, feces everywhere. Dogs forced out of their kennels with cold water hoses, leaving cold wet cement floors to lie upon all day and all night, making for sore chapped feet and legs. Dogs with sniffles being put down for major illness, dogs claimed to be aggressive without a proper temperament test. Dogs and cats arrive healthy only to be dying or horribly ill upon leaving the shelter. Some suffering in their kennels or crates for weeks at a time because the vet was on vacation or no one cared. There are now pictures of validation and groups that have formed because it is finally time!
But, an even worse thought, that this is the place that lost dogs and cats in Baltimore County are taken. Could you even imagine your dog or cat there?
So, with this effort, a united group of caring people who love their dogs and cats (and even horses) are hoping that finally NOW these animals have found their voices and they are theirs! In response there are promises of a new shelter. These advocates state that throwing money into a new building will not solve the problem of neglect and the pain of what many of these dogs and cats experience. Obviously, these are problems that a new building will not solve.
There was a very successful protest this past Monday night in Towson, with well over one-hundred people gathered in the rain to fight for the dogs and cats that can’t speak for themselves, many were volunteers and others who had seen what happens at this shelter firsthand. There are more protests planned. Advocates urge that animal lovers attend along with, spreading the word of what is really happening to these animals, and reminding people that they can adopt their next companion animal from BCAS.