Cecil County Animal Oversight Panel Loses Members, Girl Scouts Dissed for Comments, Race Slurs Alleged; Moore Keeps $720K Costs

May 4, 2015


Cecil County’s animal control oversight panel that monitors a private contractor, handling stray animals at taxpayer expense, has lost two members who resigned recently after what some say was “bullying” by the contractor, A Buddy for Life, Inc. And after a meeting last week, Girl Scouts who had questioned the shelter operations say they suffered racially-tinged remarks telling Black children to “go back to Baltimore.”

At the same time, Cecil County Executive Tari Moore and her administration have stood by the Buddies group and current control of the Animal Care and Control Oversight Commission (ACCOC) by pro-Buddies allies. Moore has also indicated in her budget that she is not looking for cost-savings in animal control operations even though the Buddies’ contract expires mid-budget year.

At a meeting last week, several Girl Scouts from nearby Delaware attended the session as part of their efforts to learn about and attend government meetings. Three of the young girls spoke, in child-like voices that could barely be heard on the official audiotape of the meeting, for a minute or less each to urge humane treatment of the animals at the taxpayer-supported Buddies shelter located at a rented kennel in Elkton.

(Cecil Times was not physically present for the meeting, but we have reviewed audiotapes of the meeting, videos posted on YouTube, Facebook exchanges, and interviewed multiple sources involved in the event, as well as examining Moore’s budget line items.)

Ricky Lewis, an outspoken advocate of the Buddies on the ACCOC, began the meeting by asking for a vote to confirm him as the “temporary” chair of the panel—after the current chair, Lyn Yelton, resigned about two months ago. After winning the chair, he re-organized the usual format of the meeting by calling for public comments before the Buddies were asked to explain and justify their latest quarterly activity and financial report. And Lewis asked the Buddies to “rebut” the public comments.

Jenn Callahan, the co-director of the Buddies and the public voice of the group, focused on the young Scouts, saying they had been “coached” and their concerns should be “dismissed” because she believed their troop had not visited the Buddies facility.

Callahan’s focus on the young girls drew audible protests in the room, and County Attorney Jason Allison called out that, while animal control is “an emotional issue,” officials would “retain order.” Subsequently, one adult not associated with the Scouts and who is a local cat activist made an outburst about officials having things “stuck up your a****.”

After the half-hour or so meeting, a confrontation erupted outside the county administration building in Elkton, with witness accounts and videotapes posted on YouTube and Facebook recording what appeared to be comments by white adults aimed at some African-American Girl Scouts, to the effect that they should “go back to Baltimore.”

The mother of one of the girls posted on Facebook that her daughter was called a “black animal” who “belonged in Baltimore.’ (The timing of the meeting coincided with the riots in Baltimore over the death of an African-American man in the custody of city police.) A Cecil County Sheriff’s Deputy was seen on the videos dispersing the small crowd, but some attendees said they were told that since the “N” word was not used, it did not constitute hate speech.

[SEE video posted here:


At the same time, supporters of the Buddies offered loud video commentary—voiced over by the recognizable tones of Callahan’s voice– criticizing the Scouts and stating they would be “reported” to regional scouting authorities for what she characterized as improper “shouting” outside the building.

The mother of one of the girls said the scouts were responding with shock at the racial overtones of the comments against them, while a white male adult standing with the scouts on the video is heard saying it was inappropriate for the pro-Buddies adults to make racially-tinged comments against the children.

One of the more odd aspects of the entire matter was the Facebook contretemps involving Allison, the county attorney, who posted on several pages about the matter. He told the Chesapeake Council of the Girl Scouts, which includes the troop whose members attended the meeting, that he wanted to address personally with the Council comments by “adults” he asserted were associated with the scouts.

And then Allison got into a multi-posting exchange on an animal activist page, “Rescue Me Cecil County,” that devolved into name-calling with one member of the group who was clearly baiting Allison. But Allison’s responses took on a personal tone without the usual legalistic caution one might expect from the Cecil County Attorney commenting on a matter of county business.

Meanwhile, in her new budget proposal for Fiscal 2016, County Executive Tari Moore lists the same $720,000 annualized spending on the Buddies for Life contract ($60,000 per month), which is on top of two county-purchased vehicles and start-up cash for the neophyte operators—totaling over $2.24 million over a three year contract approved in the final moments of the old County Commissioners’ board’s existence. However, the Buddies contract with Cecil County expires 12/31/15—halfway through the new budget year.

By including the full $720,000 allocation currently being paid to the Buddies, Moore’s budget suggests she expects to pay the same amount for the full year—either through an extension of the current contract with the Buddies or under a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for which she has now telegraphed how much she is willing to spend. (Not the usual way to get the best, lowest price offer.)

County officials have repeatedly refused to say when, or if, a new RFP will be put out for bid for animal control services continuing for the duration of the new fiscal year. Under the current contract, Moore could have terminated it at any time since she took office three days after it was signed, but she has not done so.

(In contrast, as part of her budget presentations, Moore said she would look to re-bid other contracts, including medical services at the county Detention Center, to seek lower costs and in the past few days an RFP process for the jail medical services was initiated for submission of new bids that will now be reviewed later this month.)

Meanwhile, Moore, Allison and other county officials attended a recent meeting with two members of the ACCOC who resigned recently—Veronica Dougherty, chair of the Science Department at Cecil College and a trainer of guide dogs for the disabled, and Yelton, the chair of the ACCOC and an MBA financial analyst who also operates a dog boarding kennel. The two former members questioned the viability of the ACCOC as currently constituted.

Yelton has consistently asked incisive questions about the financial reports of the Buddies, the number of animals housed on the group’s rented kennel site, and living conditions for animals at the group’s facilities—including documented reports of many animals housed in portable crates in an area with no running water for sanitation.

In response, Mindy Carletti—a Perryville veterinarian who helped organize and financed the Buddies’ bid to obtain the county contract after virtually single-handedly re-writing a new animal ordinance drafted by an independent commission—has filed two complaints against Yelton with the county’s Ethics Commission, independent sources told Cecil Times. The initial complaint was settled informally, with Yelton agreeing to state in future sessions that she owns a boarding kennel, although that was clear and publicly stated when she was appointed with County Council approval.

The most recent complaint—heard by the ethics panel a few weeks ago—alleges that Yelton shouldn’t have asked fellow commission members in April, 2014 if they wanted to review various aspects of the current animal law—although the county animal law specifies that the ACCOC is empowered to recommend possible changes in the law. (A majority of the then-members voted no at the meeting, and so there was no discussion or action on any potential revisions of the law.) A decision by the ethics panel on the latest Carletti complaint has not yet been released.

Carletti has been disciplined by the state Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners stemming from a case involving improper handling of “controlled dangerous substances.” [SEE previous CECIL TIMES Special Report here: http://ceciltimes.com/2014/07/state-vet-board-fines-buddies-for-no-license-at-animal-shelter-carletti-sanctioned-for-violations-on-controlled-dangerous-substances/ ]

Sources told Cecil Times that Moore again defended the Buddies at the meeting but she admitted that the oversight panel had become “ineffective” and her suggested solution was to put county government officials into seats on the panel– including Richard Brooks, the head of the county’s Department of Emergency Services who was a leader of a county employee panel that recommended selection of the Buddies for the county contract.

During the ACCOC meeting, several citizens said the oversight panel had become a “joke,” independent-minded citizens had been “bullied,” and that no one would want to subject themselves to such treatment to fill the two current vacancies.

“It’s a joke by now,” said Anke Masters of Elkton. “It oversees nothing and does nothing and it should be abolished,” she said of the ACCOC.

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17 Responses to Cecil County Animal Oversight Panel Loses Members, Girl Scouts Dissed for Comments, Race Slurs Alleged; Moore Keeps $720K Costs

  1. Mike R on May 5, 2015 at 8:53 am

    When is an RFP typically made public for bid prior to the existing contract expiring? Does the county not have to put such a contract out for bid? What does Carletti or the Buddy’s have on Tari Moore, Al Wein or Richard Brooks that they are just unwilling to listen to reason? What is it they do not want us to know, what is hiding in that closet that makes them unwilling to listen to the taxpayers who are paying their salary?

    Why does one irresponsible individual, Tari Moore,continue this charade? What experience does someone like Al Wein or Richard Brook have that directly relates to the care and control of animals? Why is the county government not looking to cut costs from an almost non existent group who has a hundred and one excuses to not do their job? Why is it that the topic of conversation among the reasonable county population always seem to be around the lack of services provided by Buddy’s as the animal control agency for the county?

    Why is it that the County representatives who attend the ACCOC meetings allow Buddy’s representatives to lie about the Buddy’s kennel inspections? There is no quarterly inspection by qualified individuals as stated in the question and answer section of last week’s meeting on the Cecil County website’s response to questions.

    What is being done about the cruelty being observed by neighbors and other county residents regarding the way the animal control officers handle dogs in the neighborhoods? Why is it that when you call to discuss an issue with Tari Moore or Al Wein that you are stonewalled by their secretaries and never hear from either one of them?

    Why is it that the Buddy’s are unwilling to do their job and handle the hundreds of feral cats that are running in the county causing a health hazard? Why is it that someone’s pet who might have gotten loose by accident is more important to capture than the cats running loose which is also a safety issue regarded my many at the same level or higher than a stray dog just hanging out?

    Why is Tari Moore so incapable of seeing an accident waiting to happen? Why is the County Attorney Jason Allison spewing nastiness all over facebook in regards to the Girls Scouts and the incident on Wednesday? Is he not a professional trained to keep his mouth shut? I can only assume he has received his marching orders from the “not so great” Tari Moore and is he just as spineless as the rest of the group on the 2nd floor of the county building? IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE!!!!

  2. Barbara W. on May 5, 2015 at 9:11 am

    We the taxpayers of this county are being scammed by our elected county government in so many ways. I continue to be amazed at how quickly the county executive is so anxious to spend our hard earned money. To read that she is not considering the economic health of this county and willing to accept things as they are is extremely disturbing. To cut the law enforcement budget (the guys who really protect us, who carry guns and whose life is on the line daily) and not the budget of the want to be cops of animal control is appalling.

    Shame on you Tari Moore, Al Wein, Jason Allison and the County Council. We want accountability from all of you in government and we are not getting it. Just remember Robert Hodge, Tari Moore you started this mess and you are coming up for re-election, so my suggestion to you if you want to run again and win, get your act together and replace Buddy’s.

  3. Jeannette H on May 5, 2015 at 9:25 am

    When I saw the video on facebook a few days ago, I wondered how long it would take the media to pick up on this reprehensible action by Buddy’s employees and supporters. To expose these young girls to such racial slurs just goes to show the mentality of the people involved with the animal care and control contract. It is unlikely that these youngsters will ever forget the rudeness and callous disregard for professionalism. Youngsters at that age are very impressionable.

    Where are you Cecil Whig? Feeling threatened by Carletti and her gang? When people are cruel to children, you know they are cruel to the animals. How much more evidence do you need Tari Moore? Too bad that you don’t care enough to use your authority and cancel this contract.

  4. Gigi Heffner on May 5, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    This makes no sense to me? Why would Girl Scouts from Delaware protest a shelter in Cecil County, MD???

    • Tammy Pollard on May 6, 2015 at 6:56 am

      I’m guessing for the same reason Cecil County government would award a very lucrative, $2.25 million contract, to a nearly bankrupt Delaware rescue. Kudos to the Girl Scouts for standing up for, and giving a voice to, defenseless animals.

      The real shame is in the fact that the Girl Scouts became victims as well and the responsible party (Buddy for Life) tries to diminish their role on Facebook. Their claims are starting to fall on deaf ears and people no longer want their accusations removing focus from what they did to foster and promote hate but, instead, want apologies for reprehensible behavior. This County needs to make it clear that verbal child abuse will NOT be tolerated by anyone and take the steps necessary to remove the current contractor. Send them “back to” Delaware!

      • Dawn George on May 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm

        It should also be noted that Girl Scouts are divided by district. These girls are members of the Chesapeake Bay Girl Scout Council which Cecil County is part of.

  5. SchoolMarm on May 6, 2015 at 7:15 am

    What a mess. And these are our elected officials (and former ones), high ranking (and well-paid) County officials all of whom we trust to make difficult decisions about complicated issues. What is it about the Buddy gang that makes them all act like ignorant, unrealistic buffoons?

    Does Buddy Inc. have pictures or videos of ALL of them doing compromising things? Is there some hidden, insanely huge vendetta against the former SPCA going on? Is it the fact that powerful persons, or those that perceive themselves as such, seldom admit to being wrong? I do not know. But I wonder why we should trust these fools to made wise decisions, for example, about the budget or the drug problem in the County?

    As to the Girl Scouts, their “territories” are organized by Regional Councils, thus there is crossover by state. Would it have been better if the racial and otherwise ridiculous comments, by the county’s
    “lawyer” and the Buddy thugs, had been directed at a troop from say North East?

    • V on June 17, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      You’re half right. Nearly all of this stems from the Buddy group and Carletti’s disdain for the previous CCAC. Their cause for concern was valid and although they have tried their hardest they have failed on so many levels. They wanted to be the premier no kill shelter in Maryland with barely any experience in operating animal control. Something about having 60 dogs in their upstairs “training” area stuffed into medium and large crates, with only 2 STAFF MEMBERS to take care of the 100 total dogs on site, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      First hand I know that they will silence anyone who tries to out them publicly– with a plethora of bull**** lies. They are a disgusting group of people and I hope they lose the contract come end of 2015.

      I also have good reason to believe Carletti has something on Al Wein and Tari Moore– I dont know why else both of them would actively support Ab4l after performing numerous inspections and turning a blind eye to the fact there were 60 dogs in crates upstairs…

      • RDF 001 on June 22, 2015 at 7:00 am

        Speaking of bull**** –take your allegations to the Ethics Commission or the States Attorney.

  6. Dawn George on May 6, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    To this date, every government office in Cecil County has never been willing to acknowledge our concerns and complaints regarding the misappropriation of our county tax dollars since this group took over and our repeated concerns for the conditions that the shelter animals are forced to live in which are horrific and do not fall within the MD Board of Veterinary Medicine Guidelines.

    They are licensed as an Animal Hospital which means a veterinarian has to be on site 50% of the time the shelter is open. Well that would be quite a feat given Carletti has full time clinic hours in Perryville.

    Law enforcement was the only form of county government that we were not sure if they would do their job. The answer is no. When the girls were being attacked verbally in the parking lot, Deputy Staunton repeatedly refused to take a complaint or take witness statements. He stated he wanted “everyone to go home.” So, we have the answer to that question. On Monday, the Girl Scout leader, girls and witnesses went to the Sheriff’s Office to file a complaint. Corporal Armstrong refused to take the complaint.

    Now Moore is stating she will get to the bottom of the behavior of the Buddies. Well if law enforcement is not willing to take complaints just how does she plan to do that?

    When the State Board of Veterinary Medicine refused to answer any of the concerns I expressed to the State Veterinarian, she made my complaint official and sent it back to the licensing board and she said she spoke to Downes,the Supervisor, the Board Attorney and the inspector. On Day 30, Downes emailed me a response that was basically non responsive. So, it would seem the Board needs to be investigated as well… It’s time for the State Prosecutor to look into the Board, AB4L and Cecil County Government for not representing or looking out for the best interests of this county’s citizens.

    Tari Moore told me in an email in November 2013, when I had been begging her to sever the contract and offering ideas and information the county could use to get out of this mess and it would not cost a nickel to worry about the animals already under the county’s care, she stated,”Dawn, I assume the animals you have described in your emails that have been abused and neglected about are past the 8 day stray hold therefore the county is not responsible for them. They become AB4L property.” Well, Houston we have a problem. Since they have NEVER BEEN ABLE TO TWEAK THE 8 DAY STRAY HOLD COST, AB4L has used that county money to run their business…. So, despite what Mr. Allison believes that contract offers him no protection since it has NEVER BEEN FOLLOWED SINCE DAY ONE.

  7. Harold McCanick on May 7, 2015 at 7:56 am

    It should be mentioned that the three former County Commissioners that approved this contract then voted to award it to A Buddy for Life, with their supporter Mindy Carletti, were Jim Mullin, Mike Dunn and Mindy’s buddy Diana Broomell. There were many at the time that warned of potential corruption.

  8. terrierlover on May 7, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Racial slurs and verbal abuse of children are indefensible and anybody associated with such conduct should be canned immediately!

    That should be the end of the story, along with sincere apologies to the abused children.
    Hearing the county attorney attempting to shift blame is mind-boggling! Certainly not someone I feel comfortable representing the county I love. But then there was silence. Did the Council and the County Executive think they could just sit this out?

    It took over a week for a public statement and acknowledgement that this disgusting incident even happened! That this statement was forthcoming at all might be a reaction to the Tuesday evening meetings where citizens voiced their outrage and lack of understanding for the county’s silence on the matter. I listened to the audio recording of the Tuesday council meeting and I am floored to hear one of the councilors stating that it was wrong to bring the girl scouts to a ‘war zone.’ Is he serious?

    So, I listened to the Animal Control meeting [audiotape] and besides the outbreak of one audience member, who quickly seemed to leave, I did not hear anything that would even get close to a’war zone.’
    However, that remark seemed to be yet another attempt to shift blame away from the actual abusers. (Isn’t that the same ridiculous logic that blames rape victims because they wore a mini skirt?)

    Maybe the Buddy 4 Life outfit was encouraged by those statements from the county attorney and the councilor – since they used the same excuse in their online statement yesterday – trying to lay blame elsewhere. It’s downright comical though that they begin their statement with: “Recently we have been made aware of a video circulating …” when the voice behind the camera/cell phone was clearly that of the Buddy vice president!

    Enough with the charades! This citizen and tax payer wants NOTHING to do with people who hurl racist remarks at children! I love Cecil County and racism and abuse of children and animals has no place here!

  9. R baker on May 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

    While it seems we were hoodwinked by representatives when they ran for election and then did the opposite after election, we MUST remember this at the next election! We seem to forget these lies when it comes time to vote, in part due to the fact the big media seems to be in the pocket of the government.

    We need to be reminded of these transgressions come election time. You can do your part by keeping these issues in the forefront. We did this with Diana Broomall and the current group seems to be no better. Keep good records of the goings on and refer to them when voting.

    • Harold McCanick on May 10, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      At this point we are blatently deceived by only one. Others may do the same in the near future, don’t know yet. The correct course of action right now is to contact the council people and encourage them to not raise our taxes.

  10. Isabelle on May 10, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Hopefully another contractor will take over.

  11. Dawn George on May 19, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Well, maybe keeping the current animal control contractors’ contract severed for multiple violations and saving 720,000 dollars per year from being stolen by this group would help. They have already stolen the money for the past 2 1/2 years. A temporary fix with a transparent non-profit could be set up quickly. Moore knows that. Then the Buddies would be responsible for their ‘rescue’ operation, which was the deal to begin with. Moore would probably respond that would be inhumane to the animals. Sorry, you can’t be held accountable for the abuse occurring, then make that statement.

    A really important question to our county was who vetted this group? Background checks are one of the issues I would check before handing over a lot of money to a new contractor…. We have a copy of the contract. Citizens would have to question how they qualified at all.

    • terrierlover on June 22, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      They never qualified. The whole process was rigged from the get go.

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