Letters to the Editor

June 05, 2004

Another view of the Humane Society's request

By Angie Harsh

This letter is in reference to Debbie Norris's recent letter pertaining to the Humane Society of Washington County.

First Debbie, let me say that I am very aware of all that you have done, and are continuing to do, to help people and pets in Washington County. You are right on target when you speak about the high cost of veterinary care, which takes a major chunk out of the budgets of most humane organizations.

Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil and one that is not going to go away. I missed the part of the article where Dana Moylan was referred to as rude. Although I was not at the meeting, in all the years I have known Dana Moylan I have never known her to be rude. I can see her being upset over conditions, and over shortfalls, but I just don't see her as rude, not ever.


I have had little contact with the shelter since Paul Miller took over, but I can tell you that previous to that there were things that I saw that were ridiculous. Those things may or may not still exist today in the local shelter.

First, it does not take weeks for the adoption of an animal to take place. Last year I adopted a litter of kittens. Every kitten that I placed went to a family that had an application for more than a week at the Humane Society. These were wonderful people; one owned her own business. All were homeowners, in a very good section of town.

They were told before they could adopt they had to see a pet counselor. After adopting out animals for more than 25 years, to put people through this when animals are out there for free, with no hassle, is absurd. Raise fees? Their fees are too high as it is. Let them raise the fee for animals coming in, not animals being adopted out.

Last winter I had the misfortune to have one of my young cats picked up by the Humane Society. I reported him missing immediately, he was picked up after hours and we were notified the next morning that he had been brought in.

I was impressed that he was identified and a call was made so quickly. My husband immediately went to reclaim the kitten. Within six days of his return, he started vomiting.

Knowing that this was not just an upset stomach, I immediately made a vet appointment. Thank God I did. After much treatment and a $75 vet bill, the kitten did pull through.

A million-dollar shelter still has not helped to keep a relatively disease-free environment. I feel they should not be allowed to pick up people's animals if they have these kinds of deadly diseases out there. Every shelter does not have them, so why is it that Washington County has had this problem for as long as I can remember? Animals are people's personal property as defined by law.

There is major waste in the shelter and always has been. Sending people all over the country for training, then dismissing them, has cost the shelter thousands of dollars. They get - at least they did - all their food for free. People donate items that are promptly thrown in the garbage, yet they are things that can be used.

I know that they received a substantial amount of money from the estate of Alice Paxton to help with medical, spay/neutering, yet they have literally run the Washington County Spay/Neuter program into the ground. They are not targeting animals that need to be targeted for spaying. Instead of meeting the needs of the people with those certificates, they are limiting the amounts to $20 and $25, which is not enough to begin to cover the cost of this procedure.

Employees are falling over each other at the shelter, yet their hours of operation are not people-friendly. Nothing is convenient at the shelter, nor has it been since Shelly Moore left. Again, I have not had personal contact there since Paul Miller arrived, although I did speak to him on one occasion.

The Humane Society told the commissioners that a new shelter would be less expensive. I told the commissioners that the shelter they had planned would not be able to be maintained without significant funding. Well, they got the shelter, and now comes a request for a substantial increase in funding. Washington County should do its own animal control, hire its own enforcement officers, and pay the shelter for housing the animals as does Frederick County and other counties in Maryland.

To continue to maintain this shelter is to only throw good money after bad. They will never have enough, because this county cannot support the kind of shelter that they built.

The headline of the article was "Munson has no clue." Well, I don't know that I agree with that. He may not have decorated the package well, but the content of what he said is valid.

Angie Harsh is a Washington County resident and the founder of the Pet Hotline rescue service.

Remembering Mike Callas

To the editor:

I and a colleague just returned from attending the funeral of Michael "Mike" Callas. St. John's was packed to the rafters with people who held this wonderful man in the highest regard.

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