Cecil County Gets 2 Animal Control Bids: Cecil SPCA and DE “Rescue” Tied to Carletti, Author of New Animal Ordinance
Cecil County government received two bids on its ârequest for proposalsâ to provide animal control services: from the Cecil County SPCA (which terminated its current contract a few weeks ago due to adoption of a new animal ordinance) and a small Delaware ârescueâ group with no shelter facilities that is aligned with Mindy Carlettti, the chief author of the controversial new ordinance.
Cecil Times was present in the county purchasing office on Friday 9/14/12 at the 1:30 p.m. deadline for submissions, when the two bidders were announced. However, due to the nature of an RFP that requires detailed review of the applicantsâ credentials and proposed costs for services, the amount of each bid was not disclosed.
Meanwhile, County Commissioners received a proposed revision of the animal control ordinance at last weekâs Tuesday worksession to delete regulations for and references to cats. The âno catsâ proposal was put forward even though a majority of the Commissioners had only requested language to remove horses from certain sections of the ordinance, such as deposits of animal waste, after horse groups requested such revisions. (Exempting cats from the ordinance adopted by the county commissioners has been a top priority for Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian who took control of an Animal Control Task Force and re-wrote the ordinance after virtually all other members resigned over a year ago.)
According to documents obtained by Cecil Times, Carletti also recently sought to obtain county funds under an interim animal control plan after the SPCA ended its contract. But county officials deemed her proposal too costly since it would have given her hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for hours in which she did no work for the county. Carlettiâs proposal was also submitted well after the countyâs deadline for submissions on the interim plan.
On Friday, the Cecil County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc., (CCSPCA) submitted a new bid, despite having terminated its current contract effective 8/30/12 in response to the 3-2 County Commissioners vote to adopt the new animal control ordinance. The CCSPCAâs attorney had warned the county government that the new law was onerous, costly and in part illegal. [SEE Cecil Times reports here:
The other bidder is A Buddy for Life, Inc., a small Delaware non-profit group that states on its website and phone voicemail that it has no physical shelter to house animals and instead places dogs in private foster homes. The groupâs voicemail also states it has no provisions for cats and directs callers to Chesapeake Feline Association, a group under whose umbrella Carletti operates a cat rescue.
Filings with the federal Internal Revenue Service identify Crystal Litteral, of New Castle, DE, as the âpresidentâ of A Buddy for Life. (However, on some portions of the groupâs filings her first name is spelled âCrystall.â) On the groupâs website, Carletti is identified as a âsponsorâ of the group and is further identified in online posts as âour veterinarian.â Carlettiâs employee, Jenn Callahan, is identified as posting information on behalf of the rescue on its Facebook wall.
Cecil Times has called Litteral for comment and will update this report upon her response.
According to the Buddy groupâs 2011 filing with the IRS, it had income of $20,070 and expenses of $19,017, leaving an end of year cash balance of $1,053. The filings also state the group has no paid employees and does not list any other officers or directors of the organization.
How such a group–with no physical shelter, no animal control experience, no expertise in animal bite reporting or quarantine requirements under Maryland law, and no track record of supervising employees or paid contractors –could handle the animal control services contract was unclear. The rescue is believed likely to propose to supervise an independent commercial kennel for housing animals and a former employee of the CCSPCA to provide independent animal capture services, along with a separate veterinarian contractor.
In contrast, the CCSPCA owns an 11 acre site in Chesapeake City, with 57 state inspected and licensed on-site kennels for dogs, an open âcat roomâ with an outdoor enclosed play area for cats, as well as an on-site fully licensed veterinary hospital and a staff veterinarian, according to Jeanne Deeming, executive director of the CCSPCA. The shelter also has two vans equipped with fortified cages for transport of dangerous animals, several quarantine areas for sick or dangerous animals, and computers and special software to track lost or stray animals so owners may readily find them.
âWe have a one-stop shop for animals to provide safe housing, our staff vet provides medical care, and our shelter has a barn and fenced paddocks to house horses or farm animals that we might be asked to care for in neglect cases,â she said. The CCSPCA also has the only state-licensed crematorium in the county for environmentally-approved disposal of deceased animal remains.
Deeming noted that the county government has never provided additional funds for the CCSPCAâs frequent handling of equine or farm animal cruelty or neglect cases, unlike the recent decision by the county commissioners to give $12,000 to a private horse rescue for assisting in a case launched after the CCSPCA contract was ended.
Asked why the CCSPCA was now submitting a response to the RFP for animal control services when the organization terminated its contract a few weeks ago, Deeming said that the CCSPCA âwas always dedicated to animal welfareâ in the county and hoped to open a âdialogueâ with the County Commissioners on what services could be rendered at reasonable costs under some modifications of the new ordinance. âWe have offered the commissioners some cost-effective options to modify the ordinance in the best interests of animal and human welfare, but we also advised them what enforcement of some of the ill-advised provisions of the ordinance would cost.â
Meanwhile, Cecil Times obtained documents under a Maryland Public Information Act request showing that Carletti submitted a belated proposal to provide â24/7â veterinarian services to the county under an âinterim planâ for animal services since the CCSPCA ended its contract. She sought payment of $20 an hour for 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, even if she had no calls for services– plus if she actually performed animal care work she demanded $80 an hour with a two hour minimum payment. For just being on call and doing nothing, Carlettiâs proposal would have cost over $173,000 on an annualized basis. Instead, the county chose to use two fully staffed 24-hour emergency veterinary hospitals in Harford County that would charge nothing for being on-call and only fees-for-services actually rendered.
In addition, documents obtained by Cecil Times show that Gerald Hawkins, a former animal control officer for the CCSPCA, wanted to charge the county $10,000 per month, or $120,000 on an annualized basis, for picking up stray animals and transporting them to a private kennel paid for by the county. He said he would transport animals in his personal truck. Instead, the county chose a Delaware-based pest-control operator who bid $2,500 through the end of the year, based on county representations that he would only get about a dozen calls a month.
In related issues, the County Commissioners took no action on a proposed revision to the new animal control ordinance that would have removed cats from virtually all regulatory and definition provisions. âWhy are we doing this and whatâs the interestâ of whomever is proposing it, inquired Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5). âAll of a sudden,â he said, the commissionersâ intent to treat cats and dogs equally as far as nuisance animals and public safety and odor questions would be nullified by the new proposalâwhose author was not publically identified.
âMindy Carletti was always about cats,â Hodge said. During the task force review and subsequent discussions in which only Carletti was left of the original task force, she sought to remove cats from the law. âWhy are we trying to exempt out the feline speciesâ now, he said, when the commissioners previously decided to include felines.
The Commissioners took no action on the mysterious proposal and sent it back to county staff for re-wording to reflect the concerns of horse groups.
[DISCLOSURE: The editor of Cecil Times has adopted several pets from the CCSPCA and in the past served as an unpaid, volunteer board member.]