Moore Names Five to Animal Control Oversight Panel; “Buddy” Group Gets $65K Trucks
Cecil County Executive Tari Moore selected five people to serve on a new animal control oversight panel and submitted their names Tuesday to the County Council. None of the appointees has current evident ties to A Buddy for Life, Inc., the Delaware animal rescue group that assumed county animal control duties last month under a more than $2.2 million contract.
Moore told Cecil Times that it was an “interactive” process, as she reviewed some 40 applicants for the Animal Care and Control Oversight Committee and sorted them by residency in each of the five County Council districts. She forwarded applications to the appropriate Council members and gave them “right of first refusal” before returning to her a list of their choices.
As it turned out, County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5) said Tuesday, each Council member’s pick was ultimately selected by Moore. “They are the people we recommended,” Hodge said. The Council must confirm the appointments before they become effective.
The selected members are:
–Madelyn B. Yelton (Dist. 1), Elkton–owner of Rebel Ridge Farms, a cat and dog boarding facility, and active in retriever dog clubs. She holds an MBA from the University of Rochester (NY) and is a certified financial planner. During a hearing last fall on proposed changes in the animal control ordinance, she said she welcomed inspections of kennels but questioned regulations in the new ordinance that required exercise plans of up to two hours a day per dog, noting that such demands were not even placed on public school children in the county.
–Kerrianne Hanlin (Dist. 2), Elkton– a veterinarian who took over the North East Animal Hospital on Route 40 over a year ago. Dr. Hanlin, who came to the county from Pennsylvania, testified at last fall’s hearing that, based on her professional experience, she thought cats should be included in the ordinance.
(The Buddy group and its allies lobbied to get cats removed from the ordinance and a majority of the then County Commissioners agreed, but they never actually voted to remove the cat regulations.)
–Kelly Kalman (Dist.3), Rising Sun—a dog groomer at an Oxford, PA veterinary clinic. She has done animal rescue volunteer work and lists her interests as “all types of animals/equine.”
–Ricky Lewis II (Dist. 4), Perryville– employed as a public works inspector in Baltimore county and operator of a local cat rescue group, Cat Crusaders. (He was previously associated with another cat rescue tied to Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian who re-wrote the county’s animal control ordinance and now works with the Buddy group.) At the animal control hearing, he testified that cats should be removed from the ordinance due to costs and said “why should I have to pay for a problem somebody has on their property.”
–Veronica Dougherty (Dist. 5 )– A professor of biology and chair of the Science Department at Cecil College. She holds a doctorate in biology from the University of Connecticut. She is involved in training seeing-eye dogs.
Under the new animal control ordinance adopted by County Commissioners last summer, the members of the oversight panel will select their own chair, vice-chair, and secretary. The duties of the panel are spelled out in the county code here: http://ecode360.com/16162790
The oversight group was designed to act as a buffer between county government officials and citizens with complaints about animal control services. The panel will accept complaints from the public and attempt to resolve them with the animal control contractor. However, the oversight panel has no power to enforce any laws and nothing in the ordinance bars citizens from voicing their concerns directly to elected officials.
A Buddy for Life, Inc., a Delaware dog rescue group, began providing animal control services for Cecil County on 1/1/13, despite having no shelter of its own to house animals and no experience in operating an animal control service.
Up to 11 kennels are being rented from the private Raintree Kennels in Elkton and up to 11 kennels may be used at an Oxford, PA private kennel. The Buddies current rented office space on Appleton Road does not qualify for use as a dog kennel under zoning law.
However, the Buddies are expected to shift operations to a warehouse on the same property later this year.
The county is paying the Buddy group over $2.2 million under a three-year contract rammed through the county Commissioners board in the final moments before the shift to Charter government in December. The “Three Amigos” faction pushed the Buddy contract through and extended the contract to three years. Then-commissioner Moore and Robert Hodge (R-5) voted against the contract award.
The Cecil County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Inc. provided animal control services to the county for decades but terminated its contract last summer, citing costly new mandates of the new animal ordinance that the county was then unwilling to pay the group anything extra to provide. The CCSPCA subsequently put in a bid under a “Request for Proposals” issued by the county but then withdrew from the process because, as its attorney said at the time, the majority of the commissioners were leaning over backwards to tilt the process in favor of the Buddy group.
Meanwhile, Cecil Times has obtained documents showing the county government has ordered two new pickup trucks and fiberglass “caps” for the Buddy group that will be delivered in March. The contract between the county and the Buddies specified that the county would buy vehicles for the group to use in animal control duties, in addition to the $60,000 a month the county pays the Buddies (plus $10,000 in cash for ‘start-up’ expenses.)
The trucks purchase and retrofitting them with the caps, which was not submitted to the County Council for approval, will cost taxpayers $65,470. The county will retain ownership of the vehicles and lease them to the Buddies for $1 a year each.
County Director of Administration Al Wein said that under state purchasing procedures, vehicles may be acquired by the county government if they conform to a state-approved price list, without a formal Request for Proposal or bidding process.
Moore said Tuesday she was unaware that the trucks purchase had proceeded, but noted that it was a provision of the contract.
The pickup trucks, purchased from Apple Ford, have four-wheel drive and will be retro-fitted by a Pennsylvania firm with fiberglass caps that can hold six animals inside.