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When people go to jail, pets go to SPCA

March 14, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

MAUGANSVILLE - Mention the SPCA and most people think of the organization's work in caring for, placing and euthanizing strays, mistreated and abandoned animals.

But the Washington County society also performs a special function for local law enforcement by taking in animals who are with their owners at the time of an arrest.

"We are usually called for moving violations in the summer. A driver may be out with their pet and be pulled over and taken in by police," said Shelly Moore, SPCA executive director.

She said SPCA employees will often have to go to the Washington County Detention Center to talk with suspects to determine what to do with their pets. They will try to find family members or neighbors to take the pets in until their owners are released, she said.

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The SPCA will care for the animal until a relative can be called or place the pets with new owners, she said. Most often it's dogs that the SPCA picks up.

"People don't normally drive around with their cats in the car," she said.

Moore said they are asked to respond about 12 times a year for such cases. They care for about 5,000 animals a year.

Earlier this month, the SPCA was asked to care for three purebred Irish Setters after their owner was taken into custody by the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

"We took care of them for about 10 days. Finally, two were adopted and the other was taken by Irish Setter Rescue," she said.

Last year, they cared for a calf after it had fallen off a truck.

She said the SPCA will care for domestic animals and pick up injured or sick wildlife.

Moore said police also call for help at times when animals are found locked in vehicles during extreme weather or in cruelty cases.

Hagerstown City Police has a need for the SPCA's service about twice a year, said Capt. Robert Hart.

He commended the animal shelter for its cooperation in caring for the animals.

Moore said the SPCA is called most often by the Washington County Sheriff's Department for the animal cases.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department frequently utilizes the SPCA if a pet is stranded after an arrest for driving while intoxicated, Sgt. Mark M. Knight said.

"They perform a valuable service," he said. "We would have no way to transport the animals and we certainly couldn't leave them in the vehicles."

Those interested in adopting a pet from the SPCA can call 301-733-2060 or visit the shelter at 13011 Maugansville Road, Maugansville.

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