Treatment of ‘bully breeds’ at local shelter raises concerns

WASHINGTON — Concerns have been raised over numbers of euthanized dogs at a local animal shelter

The Tri-County Animal Shelter is run by Charles County but is used and funded by Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties too.

Calvert County Commissioner Mike Hart was told in July that the shelter euthanized a total of 6 dogs in 2014.

But during their December 8 meeting, commissioners learned the actual number of dogs euthanized last year was 364.

Why the huge difference?

The initial number only included the number of euthanized dogs that the shelter considered healthy and adoptable.

Sick dogs and so-called “bully breeds” such as pit bulls that the shelter considers unadoptable were left out of the original number.

Commissioner Hart calls the difference in the totals “ridiculous.”

“That was my question, how many dogs were put down. Not some skewed number to make somebody feel better,” he added.

Tri-County Animal Shelter Advisory Board member Linda Kelley says the facility does not have a vet on staff. Several commissioners voiced concerns about the shelter’s size and the way it is being run during Tuesday’s meeting.

A statement on the shelter’s website explains that in recent years, it has been working with animal rescue groups to help get “bully breed” dogs with good temperaments adopted.

In part, the statement reads: “Currently, TCAS does not have the evaluation protocols in place that we believe are necessary for the proper placement of bully breeds. The majority of the rescues that TCAS works with go through additional levels of behavioral assessment for the dogs, have an extensive application process for potential adopters and perform home visits to ensure the animal will be placed in a proper home with responsible owners. At this time TCAS cannot perform these evaluations of dogs and homes to the same level as the rescues we work with.”

As for what the county should do next, Kelley says there are several options.

The first is to make no changes to the current shared shelter.

The second is to replace the Tri-County shelter with a brand new facility.

“Option 3, which is our recommendation, is that we begin the process to move forward with plans for a stand-alone Calvert animal shelter, rebranded as the Calvert Animal Care and Adoption Center. We should immediately begin a search for an appropriate site,” she said.

She also asked that funding for the new shelter to be added to the fiscal year 2017 budget.

No decision on the proposal was made at the meeting.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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