Tri-County shelter’s future in doubt
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.somdnews.com 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.