Tri-County shel­ter’s fu­ture in doubt

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

So it’s of­fi­cial. Calvert County will soon have its very own an­i­mal shel­ter. Lo­cal of­fi­cials weighed the pros and cons of re­main­ing part of the Tri-County An­i­mal Shel­ter in Hugh­esville, and when an op­por­tu­nity pre­sented it­self for a lo­cal pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship to con­struct a new shel­ter, we can’t blame them for view­ing the sit­u­a­tion as a no-brainer.

The Prince Fred­er­ick shel­ter, to be built and leased to the county by Mar­rick Prop­er­ties, will be­come op­er­a­ble in fis­cal 2018, so it doesn’t af­fect the up­com­ing bud­get cy­cle cur­rently un­der­way. And when the fi­nan­cial im­pact does take ef­fect, Calvert County Com­mis­sion­ers’ Pres­i­dent Evan Slaugh­en­houpt (R) es­ti­mates it will be about as much as the im­pact to the county had of­fi­cials de­cided to pitch in on the much-needed ren­o­va­tions at the Tri-County An­i­mal Shel­ter. Cer­tainly, it leaves Charles County in a bit of a pickle as to what to do about Tri-County at this point, es­pe­cially with St. Mary’s County look­ing to fol­low in Calvert’s footsteps. We hope the com­mis­sion­ers con­tinue to work with the other two coun­ties’ elected of­fi­cials to fig­ure out the best course of ac­tion for eas­ing out of the tri-county part­ner­ship over the next year, plac­ing min­i­mal bur­den on the county gov­ern­ments.

A re­cent on­line poll we con­ducted at www.somd­ asked our South­ern Mary­land read­ers to weigh in on whether the coun­ties should in­deed part ways and have their own sep­a­rate shel­ters or con­tinue to work to­gether on the badly needed im­prove­ments at Tri-County. About 80 per­cent of you said sep­a­rate shel­ters is the way to go — and we agree, as long as cer­tain mea­sures are taken to en­sure the same prob­lems cited at Tri-County over the years can be re­duced or erased at the new shel­ters.

As we re­ported in re­cent weeks, the Calvert shel­ter’s aim will be to save all healthy and treat­able an­i­mals, even when the shel­ter is full, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials. Only ter­mi­nally ill an­i­mals or those con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous to pub­lic safety will be eu­th­a­nized. Staff will be re­quired to work with vet­eri­nar­i­ans to make that call. Con­sid­er­ing high eu­thana­sia rates were among the list of pri­mary con­cerns res­i­dents ex­pressed in re­gard to Tri-County, this sounds like an im­prove­ment, on pa­per.

The county es­ti­mates it will fund up to 10 full-time staff po­si­tions at the shel­ter, which would in­clude a volunteer co­or­di­na­tor. Lo­cal vet­eri­nar­ian Michelle Quigley said she be­lieves the staff should in­clude a vet­eri­nar­ian as well as a fos­ter pro­gram, like she be­lieves there should have been at Tri-County. In­ad­e­quate staffing and space also topped the list of com­plaints re­gard­ing Tri-County, and we can un­der­stand the rea­son­ing be­hind Quigley’s logic. Per­haps a role of the volunteer co­or­di­na­tor could be to man­age fos­ter care of an­i­mals brought into the shel­ter and needing greater care than can be pro­vided at the fa­cil­ity.

What­ever so­lu­tions are put in place in this new ven­ture, we trust county of­fi­cials will take a hard look at the op­tions needed for a suc­cess­ful an­i­mal shel­ter.

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