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Kamenetz needs to keep an open mind on county animal shelter

Advisory group could improve conditions at the facility

I would like to thank the Baltimore County Council for hearing the frustration of animal rights activists and other members of the community who have been complaining for years about unsatisfactory conditions at the animal shelter ("Baltimore County Council considers forming new animal shelter advisory group," Jan. 5).

All seven members of the council agreed to introduce a bill that would allow the formation of a commission to look into problems of cleanliness, health issues, bad behavior by management toward citizens and volunteers, the lack of a foster-care program, the failure of the new spay-neuter program and the failure to provide community outreach to needy citizens. It will also look into the shelter's high euthanasia rate and other issues.

For the first time we heard Councilwoman Vicki Almond suggest letting a non-profit run the shelter, similar to the BARCS shelter in Baltimore City. This is an idea the community has been begging for.

I also want to clear up the strange allegations made by County Executive Kevin Kamenetz that animal rights activists want to "release wild, feral cats into county neighborhoods."

On Jan. 7, during the first hour of "The Marc Steiner Show" on WEAA, Mr. Kamenetz responded to an email I sent in by saying that he "knew" me, "had regular dialogue" with me and that I "want Baltimore County to release wild cats into the community."

My email asked why he continued to try to discredit the animal shelter movement by claiming that we are trying to release feral cats into neighborhoods, which was also stated by his spokesperson in a Jan. 5 article in The Sun.

I am a private citizen who works professionally with animals, and I was very surprised to be slandered by an elected official on a radio show. Mr. Kamenetz and I do not "know" each other. We have never had a "regular dialogue" about anything. I do not, nor have I ever, released a feral cat into any neighborhood.

The only direct contact I ever had with the county executive was at a community association meeting, where I attempted to ask him a question about how the new $6 million animal shelter would be run. He replied that we would not be discussing the new animal shelter

I think what he is trying to express regarding feral cats is a complete failure to understand the concept of "trap-neuter-release." Trap-neuter-release is not a wacky concept cooked up by crazy cat ladies. It is, in fact, a scientific approach to the management of existing feral cat colonies in communities worldwide.

There is a wealth of information about T-N-R online, including videos explaining how it works and people doing successfully doing it. Those sources could easily explain the concept to the county executive if he would simply open his mind to the possibility of change and embrace the idea of having a more modern approach to animal sheltering that complements the modern facility he has promised to build.

Kathy Soul, White Hall

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