Looking for friends
Outgoing animal control provider gets community support
— Officials with A Buddy for Life, the county’s animal control provider until June 30, say the community has come to their aid to help them find permanent or foster homes for their dogs and cats before Cecil County government takes over July 1.
With three months to go until the transition is final, A Buddy for Life officials are hopeful the animals find homes.
“We’ve had a tremendous outpouring from people,” A Buddy for Life co-executive director Jenn Callahan said last week.
Rose Douglas, a staff member of A Buddy for Life, agreed with Callahan.
“The day after we posted our needs on a social media site, we had people lined up at our door waiting for us to open,” she said, adding, “That
has happened at least one other day, as well.”
That urgent plea posted March 21 included this statement: “While it pains us immensely to say this, any animal that has not found a home or rescue/shelter placement on June 30 will be humanely euthanized, as there will be no place for that animal to go.”
Under the current animal control contract, all animals become the property of A Buddy for Life, which operates its own private rescue operation, after the county’s five-day hold period expires.
A Buddy for Life, located at 377 Hutton Road, had approximately 80 dogs and 40 cats at the time of the posting. Last Wednesday, Callahan said the number of dogs in the shelter was 54 and cats still near 40.
“They come and go,” she said, noting they are still under contract to pick up strays and accept drop-offs until June 30, although the numbers are diminishing.
A rescue operation from Kent County took three more dogs Wednesday, and another was getting adopted. A tour of the “cat room” on the second floor of the facility Wednesday afternoon found probably less than 10 cats.
Because of the daily fluctuations, Callahan estimated they average between 50 to 80 dogs on any given day.
“We’ve had quite a few adoptions and a lot of help from other shelters,” Callahan said, adding that she still worries. “We’re right smack in the middle of kitten season. So any help we can get, we’ll take.”
A Buddy for Life has an aggressive meet-and-greet schedule of events line up between now and May. Those events are posted on A Buddy for Life’s website, along with their hours of opera- tion, which include Tuesday through Saturday.
“I want all animals out alive. Anything else would break our hearts,” Callahan said.
Some of their events will be at Petco in North East Plaza, Vixen Hall in Oxford, Pa., Pet Valu in Rising Sun, a 5K run at Glasgow Park on April 23, Hack’s Point Fire Co. Car Show, Chesapeake City VFW SoupBakeYard Sale and PetSmart in Newark, Del.
In the near future, A Buddy for Life will be offering special reduced prices for adoption, Callahan said.
Douglas, who is one of the longest working employees at A Buddy for Life, said they’ve received great support from other rescues — some nearby and others as far away as New England.
“Social media really spreads the message quickly,” she said.
She’s optimistic they will all get homes. “We have a huge momentum going,” Douglas said.
Meanwhile, some critics of county government have taken to social media to allege the county will become a high-kill facility after it takes over operation July 1 and that all animals in A Buddy for Life’s care on June 30 will be euthanized.
“I was alarmed when I read this,” said Alice Brown, a retired teacher and resident of North East.
“I called the county executive’s office to find out if this was true,” she said, noting she ultimately got a response from several county officials that eased her worries. “My initial reaction was to stir things up. But now I hope the word gets out to help these animals.”
However, Brown still has concerns there is a possibility that some animals will have to be euthanized, but she also has hope they will find homes.
Some county critics organized a protest at the county administration building at 4 p.m. Tuesday to express their concerns about the future of animal control.
Meanwhile, County Execu- tive Tari Moore says the county has no intention of being a high-kill facility.
“In all fairness to the skeptics out there, I understand their concern,” she said Friday. “But we have a plan and we won’t kill animals on day six. The only way an animal will be euthanized at all, is if it is determined to be not adoptable by our team of professionals.”
Among the goals of the county’s animal care and control service, according to Moore, will be to reunite animals with their owners, get animals adopted or rescued and improve an animal’s behavior, when possible, to help it become adoptable.
“This will only work if we have public support,” she said.
Critical to a successful operation is hiring a top notch manager with excellent community outreach skills for the animal shelter, Moore said. The county has been advertising for the position for a few weeks and has already received about a dozen applications for the job that will pay anywhere from $49,000 to $77,000 a year.
“We want to interview and hire as soon as we can,” Moore said. The application deadline was Tuesday.
Eight total positions are proposed in the fiscal year county budget for animal care and control.
“We will be very transparent and work collaboratively with the community,” she said. “I see unlimited possibilities.”
Meanwhile, Callahan said A Buddy for Life will go back to its roots as a small, fosterbased rescue operation for animals when July 1 arrives.
“We’ve applied for a $49,000 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help us do a spay and neuter program for cats and dogs in targeted neighborhoods such as Hollingsworth Manor, Winding Brook and Lakeside Mobile Home Park,” Callahan said.
The county and A Buddy for Life will continue to meet during the next three months to work on a transition plan for a smooth transfer of the operation.
Rose Douglas, an employee of A Buddy for Life, holds up Max, a 10-year-old Jack Russell looking for a home.
A small group of protestors voiced concerns over County Executive Tari Moore’s county-run plan for animal care and control during a demonstration outside the County Administration Building on Tuesday.