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Animal Control Oversight Panel Eases Kennel Regs; Silences Protests by Bite Victim, Buddy Critics

November 12, 2013
By Nancy Schwerzler

A Cecil County citizen oversight panel on animal control has voted to ease several controversial regulations for dog kennel operators, but the group refused to consider concerns raised by citizens– including the victim of an attack by a ‘foster’ dog placed in her home by A Buddy for Life, the county’s paid contractor for animal control that the panel is supposed to oversee.

About two dozen citizens packed a small meeting room at the county administration building in Elkton Friday night (11/8/13), when four of the five members of the Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission met to review some kennel regulations and approve several proposed changes. County Executive Tari Moore recently suspended the current rules until next spring so that the oversight panel could draft revisions that will be submitted to her and the County Council. [See Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2013/10/cecil-coungty-exec-delays-new-kennel-license-regs-animal-control-oversight-panel-questions-buddies-dog-housing-at-shelter/ ]

Lyn Yelton, chair of the oversight panel, said that the group would not take public comments at the meeting—as it had in the past—because of the time constraints to finish the regulatory revisions. For more than an hour, citizens sat and listened to technical discussions of the rules but they erupted into loud outbursts of dissent when one panel member sought to defend the Buddy group.

Ricky Lewis II, a cat rescuer who has been associated with Mindy Carletti—a veterinarian who works closely with the Buddies and who drafted most of the county ordinance that the oversight panel is now working to revise—claimed that the Buddies “do a background check” on homes to which it releases dogs for foster care or adoption.

“That’s a lie,” shouted several citizens, including Kasie Bolton, an Elkton woman who offered to provide “foster” care for a dog she said was placed in her home by the Buddies. She says the group did not do a home inspection or even request that she bring her four other family dogs and her four-year-old twin daughters to the Buddy shelter to observe the foster dog’s interaction with the family.

Bolton says the Buddy’s dog, “Brittany,” mauled to death her pet Chihuahua so violently that the little dog’s eyeball popped out of its socket. The foster dog then viciously attacked Bolton, requiring her to obtain medical treatment. [SEE previous exclusive Cecil Times report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2013/11/state-vet-board-to-investigate-buddy-animal-shelter-on-license-inspection-issues-family-says-buddy-foster-dog-killed-their-pet-attacked-woman/ ]

At Friday’s meeting, Bolton and others challenged the oversight panel to address their concerns about that incident, the housing of dogs in portable wire crates at the group’s rented Elkton shelter, and questions raised by the state’s Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners about apparent lack of proper licensing for the shelter and its operations under state regulations.

As tempers flared, Yelton warned the audience that it was not a public comment session and that unless people piped down, they would be asked to leave. Then Lewis went downstairs and returned with a security officer from the building’s front desk, who then stood in the doorway for the rest of the meeting.

After the formal meeting was adjourned, Yelton explained to the citizens that the way the animal control ordinance was written, the oversight panel’s powers are limited. Citizens with complaints about the Buddies must first write a complaint to the Buddies, and if the citizens are not satisfied with the group’s response, then must file a formal “appeal” to the oversight group.

Tammy Pollard– a former volunteer at the Buddy shelter who complained to Moore and county Director of Administration Al Wein– asked if the panel had been given her written complaints about conditions for animals at the Buddy shelter and photos she presented at a meeting with Wein that she and three other volunteers had. Yelton said the panel had not been given any information from county officials about Pollard’s complaints.

During the consideration of the Carletti-drafted ordinance last year, the then-County Commissioners board made it clear that they were installing the oversight panel as way to buffer the elected officials from citizen complaints. However, citizens still have a Constitutional right to contact their government officials to seek redress for grievances about county issues, including the expenditure of over $2.2 million that the county is giving the Buddies under an animal control services contract.

That contract includes provisions allowing for termination of the contract by the county government for any reason.

In an interview with Cecil Times, Yelton said she had not been contacted by the state vet board about the Buddy group’s licensing issues, nor did she contact the board herself. Yelton also said that the Buddy group still has not provided answers to several questions she raised at the 10/ 22/13 quarterly meeting between the Buddies and the panel—including just how many dogs were being housed at the kennels the group rents from retired Cecil County Circuit Court Judge Dexter Thompson and his wife.

During the Friday evening meeting, the panel discussed rules in the current law that state cages with “wire floors” are not permitted for commercial dog kennels, boarding facilities or “hobby kennels.” Former volunteers at the Buddy shelter have said dogs are being housed there in portable wire cages with wire flooring.

Yelton told Cecil Times that she attended the Buddy group’s public “open house” on 10/26/13 and at that time “there were no dogs in wire crates in the upstairs area.” About a week earlier, Wein and two other county officials inspected the Buddy shelter after Pollard’s complaints and he reported seeing large numbers of dogs confined in wire crates in the upstairs area. Yelton said she had no idea where the dogs that Wein saw went.

Yelton also told the citizens that on Friday, the panel received its first formal “appeal” of a complaint about the Buddies. She said it involved conditions at the shelter and questions about its licensing.

Yelton said she was scheduled to meet with county officials and representatives of the Buddies later this week to review the panel’s proposed revisions of the animal law. At the outset of the Friday meeting, Lewis objected to making changes and voted “no” on consideration of revisions, saying any problems should be left up to the Buddies to resolve. He was outvoted, 3-1.

During Friday’s meeting, the group agreed to remove a limitation for Maryland-only veterinarians to provide care to dogs at commercial kennels, so vets licensed in other states could provide required care. The panel also eased rules demanding documented veterinary examinations of all kenneled dogs every six months, but retained six month exams for breeding dogs, seniors and “special needs” dogs, although that term was not defined.

And one of the more onerous regulations questioned by local kennel operators—that dogs must be given two hours a day of “exercise”—was eased to provide that there must be an exercise plan “description” on file without mandating the number of hours per day each dog must be “exercised.”

After the meeting, several citizens questioned why there were no formal complaint forms that people could fill out and wondered where to address their concerns.

Under the Cecil County Code, citizens should file an initial complaint BOTH with the Buddies AND the oversight panel. The Buddies get first shot at responding, but if a citizen is not satisfied with the response, an appeal can be made to the oversight panel, such as by simply re-sending the original complaint to the oversight group with an added request for an appeal review:

In Accordance with the Cecil County Code Chapter 142, Article II, §142-3 (G):
“All complaints concerning the Animal Care and Control Authority shall first be submitted in writing to the Animal Care and Control Authority, as well as to the Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission. The Animal Care and Control Authority shall notify the Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission, as well as the complainant, in writing, of the outcome of the complaint. In the event a complainant feels his/her complaint was not handled in an appropriate manner by the Animal Care and Control Authority, the complainant shall then appeal to the Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission.”

Citizens may email their complaints to the Buddies at: jenn@ab4l.org

According to the county website, citizens may email their complaints to the oversight panel, addressed to Lyn Yelton, the chair, but using a county employee’s email address: kpiazza@ccgov.org

In addition, citizens may contact members of the County Council, Wein, or Moore via email. Wein’s email is awein@ccgov.org

Moore’s email is tmoore@ccgov.org

Cecil County Council President Robert Hodge’s government email is rhodge@ccgov.org

And County Councilor Alan McCarthy, who is a licensed veterinarian, has a government email address at amccarthy@ccgov.org

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7 Responses to Animal Control Oversight Panel Eases Kennel Regs; Silences Protests by Bite Victim, Buddy Critics

  1. Topcat on November 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Of course Ricky Lewis would go get someone to come up and quiet the people. Ricky Lewis follows orders well. That is what his pal Carletti has been doing for many months since this all started. This is the way they operate. Fear and intimidation.

    They bullied their way into writing the laws and now they are going to try and silence anyone who disagrees. They tried to shut Tammy Pollard up with a threatened lawsuit and harassed her on facebook.

    Hopefully Tari Moore won’t be cowed into hiding under her big desk and will finally put an end to this…

  2. cats on November 14, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Please make sure that anyone with a complaint about the current Animal Care and Control be at the Cecil County Council’s Citizens Corner, on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 6:00 p.m. This is a time when the citizens get to speak to the County Council; you sign up on a sheet they put out before that so you should get there a bit early to put your name on the speaker list.

    You need to voice your concerns and complaints directly to the council people since this is where you have your chance to speak and be heard. The council also can respond to your concerns.

    Please be there. Citizens Corner is held at the County Administration Building, 200 Chesapeake Blvd, Elkton, MD in the big room on the first floor, on the left when you go in the main door.

  3. Val on November 16, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    Who do I write to complain about the author? Gave me everyone else’s contact information so why not her boss? Her obvious bias against A Buddy For Life is appalling. Try to do their job for a day, I doubt you would survive the morning. A Buddy For Life’s biggest mistake was letting this woman take a dog home. Even a novice dog owner should understand you don’t feed a chihuahua and a rotty right next to each other. Dogs (especially strays) are very protective over food.
    I personally would love to know why the author is going after a place that cares for and loves so many dogs, 75 percent of which are pit bulls. The SPCA which used to have the animal care and control contract would have simply put those pits down. Is that better for the dogs than staying at A Buddy For Life until they find a forever home? Maybe you should think about what type of person you are if you are so determined to hurt those people who only want to give dogs a chance at a good life. If you think they have too many dogs maybe you should go adopt one. Lighten their load and be a good person.

    • Politics for Dummies on November 18, 2013 at 10:26 am

      First you state it was a mistake to give someone a dog and then you ask people to “go adopt” a dog and give it a chance. So, when a person with nothing but the absolute best of intentions offers help and is given a dog that was crated and turns on her family because of aggression (not “protective over food”) the good samaritan’s understanding is questioned? I’m not going to entertain the specifics of the attack but the information in the above statement is incorrect. Your argument would be much more intelligible if it was based on fact. Wall through that shelter and look at the pathetic faces and then answer your own questions.

    • William F Bryant Jr on November 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      The SPCA never arbitrarily put down Pit Bull dogs.
      This is a misconception fostered by people associated with Buddy for Life.

    • Diane W on November 22, 2013 at 9:54 am

      Val, you are so obviously a pal of Buddy’s For Life. Let’s get this straight. Dogs are not born bad, but they are trained by their owners to be bad or left without proper training to become aggressive and dangerous. It is the Buddy’s moral responsibility to put down any animal that could cause a threat to another animal or human.

      YOU CAN’T SAVE THEM ALL! I’m so sick of hearing “No Kill” — please wake up, some animals are better off being humanely euthanized. Get off the bandwagon and use common sense. HUMAN life matters, first and foremost!

  4. Mike R on November 22, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Buddy For Life is a pure unadulterated joke! I’m so sick of the county covering for an organization that is so sanctimonious but is nothing more than bullies who profess that every animal needs to be saved. What about the people, and the children, who need to be protected from violent and aggressive dogs?

    The Buddy organization wants rules and regs for those of us in the county who have multiple dogs, but yet they can’t even keep their house clean (literally). Such a phony, fake group of individuals who are all about the $60,000 a MONTH they are getting!

    All this crap from the County Council that we heard Tuesday night about working with them is just again a front for the county to cover their butt. Al Wein and Tari Moore can end this circus with the stroke of a pen. Obviously they have more to gain from all this upheaval or they would do their job and cancel the contract.

    Hodge said Tuesday “they are getting more scrutiny than any other vendor has had”– but as well you know, Hodge, none of you are doing a very good job at scrutinizing this mess.

    Hodge, you started this mess, have the guts to finish it and give the contract back to the SPCA where it should be. You all are the laughing stock of the State, and maybe you will get sued for allowing this farce to continue and hurt innocent people!

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OUR CECIL COUNTY DELEGATE DELIVERED (Part 4)

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