Coun­cil tours new county an­i­mal shel­ter

Di­rec­tor to of­fer changes to county or­di­nance

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By Ja­cob Owens

jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

— As three mem­bers of the county coun­cil toured the new Ce­cil County An­i­mal Ser­vices shel­ter Tues­day morn­ing, it was ob­vi­ous that they are all an­i­mal lovers.

Coun­cil mem­bers Robert Hodge, Ge­orge Patchell and Joyce Bowls­bey took time be­tween coos and pet­tings to in­spect the Route 213 fa­cil­ity, for­merly the SPCA of Ce­cil County head­quar­ters, that was opened to the pub­lic July 1.

New county an­i­mal ser­vices di­rec­tor Abi­gail Light­ning-Bing­ham told the of­fi­cials that even though the shel­ter’s sig­nage has not gone up yet and more pro­mo­tional work is yet to be done, her staff has seen nu­mer­ous cases al­ready. On Mon­day, two stray an­i­mals that were picked up by an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cers were

CH­E­SA­PEAKE CITY

reunited with their fam­i­lies. So far, about 30 an­i­mals have been adopted or taken by res­cue ef­forts out of the county shel­ter. Aid­ing that ef­fort are low­ered adop­tion costs of $65 per dog and $40 per cat — though free cat adop­tions are be­ing of­fered through the end of July.

As of Tues­day morn­ing, five dogs and about a dozen cats were avail­able for adop­tion.

“Our goal is to re­duce an an­i­mal’s length of stay, whether that is mov­ing them to a res­cue or through an adop­tion, but we want to move them out of here as quick as pos­si­ble so they’re not sit­ting in a shel­ter,” she said. “We al­ways want to send out more than we’re tak­ing in.”

In re­sponse to ques­tions about some of the harder to en­force pro­vi­sions of the county’s an­i­mal care and con­trol or­di­nance, Light­ning-Bing­ham told of­fi­cials that she was re­view­ing the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion for changes to make it more com­mon sense and eas­ier to en­force.

“I’ve spo­ken and met with our county at­tor­ney, Ja­son Al­li­son, a cou­ple times and we’ll con­tinue to meet to make sure that ev­ery­thing is de­fined prop­erly, is eas­ier for the pub­lic to un­der­stand and is eas­ier for our of­fi­cers to en­force,” she said, not­ing she did not have a time­line for sug­gested amend­ments. “We’re lit­er­ally go­ing lineby-line be­cause one word can make a dif­fer­ence about how some­thing is en­forced or in­ter­preted.”

Hodge com­mented that he didn’t think there’s a hurry but “we need to get it right.”

Any amend­ments to the county or­di­nance would still have to be ap­proved by the county coun­cil.

The new fa­cil­ity con­tains an ex­am­i­na­tion room, op­er­at­ing room, cat so­cial­iza­tion room, dog ken­nels, out­door dog space, grooming area, quar­an­tine space and ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fices.

While the fa­cil­ity has been re­ju­ve­nated with some ren­o­va­tions, new util­ity lines in­clud­ing heat- ing and air con­di­tion­ing and hard­wired smoke de­tec­tors, a new paint job and some re­pairs, the work is not fully com­plete at the fa­cil­ity or its op­er­a­tion, Light­ning- Bing­ham said.

Since CCAS does not yet have a Drug En­force­ment Agency cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, it is re­quir­ing adop­tive fam­i­lies to re­turn fol­low­ing adop­tions for a sched­uled spay­ing or neu­ter­ing of their new pet. Light­ning- Bing­ham ex­pects to get DEA clear­ance in the next week or so, al­low­ing per­ma­nent stor­age of the con­trolled dan­ger­ous sub­stances nec­es­sary for the pro­ce­dures.

The di­rec­tor is also still seek­ing to fill an out­reach co­or­di­na­tor po­si­tion, who will or­ga­nize vol­un­teers, co­or­di­nate fos­ter and adop­tion re­sources and help plan any de­part­men­tal events.

“We are ex­cited to get that per­son hired as soon as pos­si­ble,” she said.

So far, 10 peo­ple have been trained to be CCAS vol­un­teers at the shel­ter and an­other ori­en­ta­tion on Satur­day will train an­other batch, Light­ning-Bing­ham said.

While ear­lier plans had an­i­mal con­trol of­fi­cers re­port­ing to the Ce­cil County De­part­ment of Emer­gency Ser­vices, they have since been re­as­signed to the CCAS, Light­ning-Bing­ham said.

“They re­port to me directly,” she said. “We’re all in- house now. We think that makes more sense be­cause for the of­fi­cers there was a bit of dis­con­nect. They would bring in an an­i­mal but then they wouldn’t hear what would hap­pen to them. Did they get adopted or res­cued? What was the ultimate dis­po­si­tion? So I think it’s won­der­ful that we’re un­der one roof now.”

The shel­ter, lo­cated at 3280 Au­gus­tine Her­man High­way, is open noon to 5:30 p.m. Tues­days, noon to 7 p.m. Wed­nes­days, noon to 5: 30 p. m. Thursdays, noon to 5: 30 p. m. Fri­days, 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Satur­days and noon to 3 p. m. Sun­days. It is closed on Mon­days. For more in­for­ma­tion or for an­i­mal con­trol as­sis­tance, call 410- 441- 2040.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JA­COB OWENS

New county an­i­mal ser­vice di­rec­tor Abi­gail Light­ning-Bing­ham (cen­ter) talks with Ce­cil County coun­cil­men Ge­orge Patchell (left) and Robert Hodge in the fa­cil­ity’s ken­nel Tues­day dur­ing their tour.

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