By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

State Vet Board to Investigate Buddy Animal Shelter on License Issues; Family Says Buddy Foster Dog Killed Pet, Attacked Woman

November 4, 2013
By Nancy Schwerzler

A Cecil Times Special Report

A state veterinary regulatory board will investigate the animal shelter operated by A Buddy for Life, under an animal control contract with Cecil County, amidst questions about lack of proper state licensing and inspection. And an Elkton family is mourning the loss of a pet Chihuahua they say was mauled to death—and its owner bitten severely– by a dog placed in their home for “foster” care by the Buddies.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners oversees licensing and inspection of veterinary hospitals and animal control facilities, as well as individual veterinarians. But the vet board did not receive an application for, and did not issue, a required animal control facility license to the Buddies for its shelter operation on Hutton Road, according to Laura Downes, the Board’s executive director. Nor does the Buddy’s shelter have a veterinary hospital license that is required for any facility at which vaccines and prescription medications are stored and administered to animals, Downes added.

“We will certainly look into it,” Downes said in an interview Monday with Cecil Times. She said that if any medical care is being rendered at the site “that facility needs to be licensed and inspected as a vet hospital with our office,” Downes explained. And since the Buddies are operating an animal control service under a county government contract, the facility should also be registered under the Board’s animal control shelter license rules, she added.

Even if controlled dangerous drugs (CDS) such as animal tranquilizers or euthanasia chemicals are not kept on site, Downes explained, the Buddy shelter still must obtain state licensing.

The Buddy group, which has a more than $2.2 million animal control services contract with the Cecil County government, has told county officials that animals will only be euthanized for medical reasons and euthanasia is performed by Mindy Carletti, a Perryville veterinarian. In addition, Carletti has told members of the county’s Animal Control Oversight Authority that she spends at least a day a week at the shelter caring for animals.

A co-director of the Buddy group also told the panel 10/22/13 that the shelter has on hand prescription medicines that staff administers to animals “under orders” from Carletti. The group’s website also states that multiple vaccinations are administered to strays immediately after they are brought into the shelter.

Downes said that before opening to care for strays under its contract with the county, the Buddy shelter should have applied for proper licensing and submitted to an inspection by state Agriculture Department officials. Downes said the state board would be following up on the matter and could also contact county government officials.

Meanwhile, an Elkton family is mourning the loss of a two-year-old pet Chihuahua, Molly Mae, that they say was viciously attacked and mauled to death by a Rottweiler placed in their home for “foster” care by the Buddies. The violence of the attack was so severe that the little dog’s eyeball popped out of its socket, the kitchen was covered in blood, and the mother of the family was severely bitten multiple times, according to Kasie Bolton.

Bolton said her twin four-year-old daughters were not in the kitchen when the attack occurred but came running when they heard her screams and saw their beloved Molly’s limp body and “blood everywhere.” The children still have nightmares, Bolton said. And she herself is undergoing medical treatment for multiple bites on her left arm so severe that “you could see the muscle showing through.”

Bolton said her family’s nightmare began when she heard that the Buddies were looking for ‘foster homes” that would temporarily care for stray dogs until the group could find permanent adoptive homes. An animal lover who already had four other dogs at home—a Shepherd, two Labs and little Molly—she said she “wanted to help out” and visited the shelter, speaking with one of the group’s two co-directors. Bolton said the staff urged her to take “Brittany,” a Rottweiler mix, that was said to be good with children and other dogs and housetrained.

Bolton said no one from the Buddies inspected her home or asked her to bring her children and other dogs to the shelter to observe how Brittany interacted with them. While no one can predict animal behavior, most shelters require observation of a stray interacting with young children and other pets in the family before placing them in the home.

On 10/5/13, Bolton picked up Brittany at the shelter and signed what she thought was a foster care agreement—but when she got home saw that it said “adoption” agreement. Bolton said she called the Buddies and was told that she could return the dog in 30 days if she decided not to keep it. Bolton said she received no medical records or other information about Brittany.

“Molly seemed to be afraid of” the foster dog, Bolton said, and “kept her distance.” Then, on Thursday 10/24/13, Brittany suddenly and without provocation attacked Molly, “grabbing her by the neck, biting and then shaking her back and forth” while clutching the little dog in her jaws. Bolton said she tried to rescue Molly and Brittany turned on her, biting her several times on the arm before Bolton managed to get the big dog out the door into the back yard.

Bolton said she called the Buddy’s animal control emergency number and a male officer came to the home and he summoned “Crystal”—apparently Crystal Litteral, a co-director of the Buddies—and they took Brittany away.

No one gave her any advice or information on what to do about her own injuries or Molly’s dead body, Bolton said, but she decided to seek medical treatment that night at the Express Care clinic in Elkton. Bolton said the staff took all the information about the bite incident and gave her antibiotics and dressed her wound. She said she is still having to change dressings twice daily and has an appointment to see a wound specialist.

State law specifies how animal bite incidents are to be handled, with the local Health Department having primary responsibility for overseeing the process. Doctors and hospitals treating a bite patient are required to file a report to the Health Department. If the animal is in custody, there are two options: a 10-day quarantine in a secure location to monitor for possible signs of rabies, or euthanasia of the animal and its brain tissue sent to a state lab for direct rabies testing.

A spokeswoman for Express Care told Cecil Times the practice could not comment on whether a bite report on Bolton’s case was sent to the Health agency due to regulations governing confidentiality of a patient’s medical records.

A spokeswoman for the Cecil County Health Department also cited medical privacy in declining to specify whether it received a bite report or took any action in the case. However, the county took it a step farther, claiming that any information about any dog placed into quarantine on that date was also confidential because it might be related to a human patient.

“I cannot talk about this case at all,” said Janis Shields, the spokeswoman.

However, state law mandates the local health department to track animal bites and report the numbers and results of any pathology sample tests at the state lab. So under questioning by Cecil Times, Shields finally did say the agency listed 9 dogs placed into quarantines in the month of October and there was also one dog tissue sample sent to the state lab—“but not the week of the 25th.”

So that appears to indicate that the dog Bolton says attacked her would have been placed in a 10-day quarantine, which would have expired this past weekend. Cecil Times contacted the Buddy group on Friday and asked for Crystal Litteral, who Bolton said was on the scene at her house, to verify where the dog was being quarantined and what its disposition would be after the required holding period. Litteral did not respond to the request for comment.

Bolton said Friday that she now regrets trying to help the Buddy group and says they never apologized for the trauma her family suffered and no one from the health department had contacted her. She said her family paid to have Molly cremated.

“I just hope that they don’t try to send that vicious dog into another family’s home,” Bolton said.

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12 Responses to State Vet Board to Investigate Buddy Animal Shelter on License Issues; Family Says Buddy Foster Dog Killed Pet, Attacked Woman

  1. Jeannette Houle on November 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I have commented on one of your prior articles regarding this Buddy’s for Life group and was quite upset that the county government would allow such a charade to go on, but now I am even more disturbed to read the above. How can county government allow a $2.2 million contracted operation to circumvent the state laws?

    It seems to me that since they contracted with an unknown entity that they would at least made certain that the simplest of things such as a license be in place prior to signing such a contract. Now tell me, what excuse will Tari Moore and Al Wein come up with this time to not fire that group?

    I want to know what they did with that dog that was fostered out and severely injured Ms. Bolton and killed her dog. Is that dog in another foster home or was it euthanized humanely as it should have been after quarantine period?

    What’s with this foster stuff– is it just another way for animal control and the pitbull rescue to keep expenses down so that they can use the taxpayers money to pay for the Buddy’s private rescue operations?

  2. Mike R on November 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Enough is enough. What in the world is wrong with our county officials to allow this group to continue when such incidents occur. This is serious stuff. Are you waiting to terminate this contract until after a child has been severely injured or killed or will you do the right thing and terminate the contract with Buddys for Life before someone gets killed or injured?

  3. Topcat on November 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    This sounds like the I told you so moment here. No licenses to run the facility and dispensing drugs but no hospital license. Creating laws that are totally ridiculous, using county money inappropriately and admitting it, etc etc etc.

    Where are the over 200 dogs that BFL took in but were not adopted or returned to their owners now residing? Does anyone think they have that many foster homes after all the begging they have done for supplies and fosters on their face book pages?

    I wonder if Tari Moore will step up to the plate now or does the county have to hire lawyers to defend against the lawsuits that surely will come from bite victims and/or people whose pets were treated improperly at their kennel?

    … Will Ricky Lewis defend all this at the next meetingof the oversight commission, as Mindy Carletti texts him his marching orders? Will Buddy for Life get the ax or does Tari think that this is just growing pains and can be fixed with a little coaching or maybe some more CA$H?

    I think its time to cut the counties losses and hire professionals and stop being afraid of Carletti. …I think the residents need some real answers now. The little stipulation they put in the contract about BFL having to deal with lawsuits won’t protect them for much longer. BFL wants them to pay for the audit already. I guess BFL will want the county taxpayers to pay for their lawyer to defend them against lawsuits, too.

  4. Dan the Dentist on November 5, 2013 at 10:03 am

    As a surgeon I always consider the possibility of complications for all surgical procedures, dental or otherwise. This same premise should be used by any animal control or rescue when placing any animal into a foster home. The fact that this volunteer was willing to foster only, should not give the agency the right to force them to sign an adoption contract. A definition of foster is to raise, certainly not adopt.

    It also puzzles me that the county government seems to be allowing this so-called foster program– are they putting dogs out into private homes while they are supposed to be on the county’s dime for eight days and so that people looking for a lost dog can easily find it at the shelter?

    I know a lot about fostering dogs because my wife and I had been involved with German Shepherd rescue for well over 40 years. Providing fostering is a serious process which must include, home visit, reference checks, visitation with the rest of the family and certainly becoming familiar with other animals in the foster household. This poor family endured such a frightful experience that will live with them for the rest of their lives. Animal control obviously is inexperienced and liable for such an episode.

    … How would whoever was responsible for this “adoption” feel if it was their mother or their children? But it seems like some of these animal rights activists running this group care more for the life of an animal than the health and well being of a human adult or child.

  5. Diane W on November 5, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Reading this, I am convinced that common sense is now an endangered species in our county government. It seems that stupidity has taken over the county government and unfortunately to my knowledge the only known cure is to get rid of them and animal control. Republicans, Democrats matters not. It’s the actions that count.

    • DW Senn on November 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

      Which Democrats?

  6. Politics for Dummies on November 5, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    For those questioning where the 200+ dogs are located, maybe try the friendly staff’s houses first and all their FB buddies next? Are they stuck in basements or spare rooms in crates and unattended for hours on end – same as the upstairs of Rainwood Kennel but so what, the dogs are crated. Well, that only leads to depression, anxiety and aggression. The dog involved in the attack came from being crated at [a Buddy staffer's] home.

    The description of the dog indicated “very sweet, housebroken, good with other animals and children” – that’s what it said on BFL’s once accessible web page. …But what this family got was a dog that urinated and defecated every day/night in her home (housebroken???). After she crated the dog while trying to housbreak it because it wouldn’t stop peeing everywhere, the dog got angry and attacked (sound sweet and good with other animals/children/people?).

    Just imagine if one of her 4 yr old twin daughters had been within reach considering what the dog did after killing the chihuahua– it turned on Ms. Bolton while she tried to tend to her little dog. THIS WAS 100% PREVENTABLE IF THE ORIGINAL COMPLAINTS HAD BEEN INVESTIGATED!

    Now, sweep this under their magic carpet and sprinkle fairy dust all over FB about how wonderful BFL is– NOT!

  7. An Interested Party on November 6, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Let me remind you that it was the original “Three Amigos” of the Commissioners form of government that voted to fund and create this county animal control group. Now Ms. Moore has to deal with the mess that they created.

    I hope that Tari will choose to dismantle this group, BFL, contact the Eastern Shore Animal League, beg them to take over, give them the new trucks and the remaining moneiy from the BFL contract. They will need it to straighten out this mess!

    Tari has an opportunity to do the right thing here. She MUST get out of this contract before the county goes broke from law suits.

  8. Arlene K. on November 7, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I continue to be amazed that the Cecil County officials continue to allow this travesty. Improper licensing and inspections? The death of a family pet? Even if they don’t want to admit that they made a mistake in awarding a $2.2 million dollar contract to amateurs, they MUST realize that it is time to take action and responsibility for their foolishness. The County cannot just keep making excuses.

    If this were a private company, they would have been descended upon by the media and County officials demanding an investigation!

    Tari Moore – back in November 2012 you voiced concerns and voted against the contract, you opposed the 3-year deal that was ultimately awarded to AB4L. What changed? It seems that you were right all along. Please step up to the plate and do the right thing for these animals. They cannot speak for themselves, but it is clear that something is terribly wrong.

    It breaks my heart that an innocent family pet was killed, the family traumatized and from the accounts above AB4L showed little concern for the family or the pet killed. What else has to happen before the County and the taxpayers wake up and demand an accounting? The cost of the contract aside, what will the additional cost to taxpayers be when the County has to defend itself?

  9. An Interested Party on November 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    COME TO THE MEETING TOMORROW NIGHT
    Animal Care & Control Oversight Commission Meeting – November 08, 2013

    Animal Care & Control Oversight Commission Informational Meeting
    Cecil County Administration Building, Rising Sun Room, Room 2009
    Friday, November 8, 2013
    6:30pm-8:00pm

  10. Politics for Dummies on November 8, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Hopeful that tonight’s meeting will be productive and not just another sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya. If you are a concerned tax payer, please attend and make your voice heard.

  11. cats on November 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

    All the complaining on this comment board does no good unless you make the County Council members aware. By emailing them– their email addresses can be found on http://www.ccgov.org — or by attending Citizens Corner before the Council’s evening meetings, which is the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month at 6:00 p.m. You can also call the council members to make them aware or nothing will change. (I wouldn’t bother contacting Dunn or Broomell since they are two of the three that gave ABFL the contract.)

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