Branch: Dead Wrong!

As the media contact for Reform Baltimore County Animal Services, I find it necessary to set the record straight regarding your article “Group Protests Animal Shelter Conditions.” Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health Dr. Gregory Branch’s claim that “all animals are actively adopted” is just dead wrong. The truth is, the Baltmore County Animal Services shelter has no adoption standards, euthanasia is used instead of adoption, most rescues have been banned and euthanasia is not saved for only sick animals or when the facility is full.

Euthanasia actively used instead of adoption is a much more accurate statement. Branch falsely reports a kill rate of 23 percent for dogs and 59 percent for cats, when the county’s own statistics reveal the last published 2012 kill rate was 63 percent. Our reform group requested 2013 documentation to substantiate Branch’s claims of a lower kill rate, but he refused to release that information. The fact is, this shelter has a strongly held belief that killing is cheaper and easier for the county, especially because the employees who have no knowledge of animal behavior, such as the difference between a frightened animal and an aggressive one, cannot accurately assess any incoming animal for adoptability. There is evidence to prove that because veterinary care and sanitation have been so deficient, many animals have become seriously ill.

In addition, the management has retaliated not only against volunteers, but against rescue groups as well by refusing to allow them to save animals from the facility. Branch and the shelter are too quick to accuse the many people who have seen firsthand the appalling conditions and suffering in that shelter of lying.

This is not just an animal issue but a community issue, as it clearly reflects the manner in which the county government responds to the concerns of its citizens. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Branch are much too quick to rationalize and defend the killings and poor protocol and fight to maintain control rather than stand up and do the right thing, which is to form a public/private partnership as was done in Baltimore City, thereby saving money and lives.

Lynn Greene

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