Caring for Carroll's animals: A Q&A with Humane Society Executive Director Karen Baker

In more than a decade at the Humane Society of Carroll County, Karen Baker has filled a lot of roles. She’s been an animal control officer, and developed an animal foster program.

But since the nonprofit’s former executive director departed in November 2017, Baker has stepped into the top job, initially as acting executive director. In May, the humane society board offered her the role on a permanent basis.


“We had a lot of really big things happen between November and May that I had to handle and I think they said, ‘OK, she can do this,’” she said.

The Times recently caught up with Baker to learn more about her leadership and humane society programs.

Q: You’re now the executive director of the Humane Society of Carroll County, but you’ve had other roles there in the past, coordinating adoptions and volunteer services. When did you first come to work at the humane society and what was your path from starting to taking the executive role?

A: I began my career with the Humane Society of Carroll County in January of 2007 as an animal control officer. When I resigned my position as an officer I remained involved with HSCC by assisting with large animal control cases, fostering animals, and filling in for the animal care and front office staff.

In 2015, I returned full time as the director of Volunteer and Foster Services. In this position I developed a foster program to help manage over 800 cats and kittens, I revamped the existing volunteer program and implemented new volunteer opportunities making it a more fulfilling experience for volunteers, staff, and animals. I developed and organized fundraising events, and managed our mobile adoption trailer.

Q: For those that are new to the area, or who maybe haven’t had the occasion to visit or learn about the humane society and the shelter, could you explain a bit about your organization, your location and what you do in the community?

A: The Humane Society of Carroll County, Inc. is a private 501c3 corporation, we have an Memorandum Of Understanding with Carroll County to perform animal control services. We are located on Littlestown Pike, three miles north of the Carroll County airport. Our shelter has a 95 percent placement rate, and all dogs and cats, when medically permissible, are altered, microchipped, vaccinated and treated for parasites prior to adoption.

We fund a trap, neuter and release program “Operation CatSnip” that has altered 1,475 cats on 118 farms in Carroll County. We hold an annual “Critter Camp” where junior campers learn the ins and outs of an animal shelter, and gain a deeper understanding of animal welfare.

We also provide aide to the community for spay/neuter services, lost and found animals, a pet food pantry, and other pet retention resources as we believe in keeping people and pets together whenever it is possible and appropriate to do so.

Our Animal Control Division performs cruelty investigations and animal control services always with the mission of educating and helping our community.

Q: Are there any current needs you have as an organization, or asks of the community you would like to communicate, whether that be a need for volunteers or more foster homes for kittens?

A: We are always in need of enrichment toys for dogs such as puzzle toys and slow feeders, towels, baby wipes, multi-purpose cleaners, bleach and Purina Dog & Cat Chow. We are currently seeking monetary donations toward fencing repairs for our play yard, our new building fund and improvements to our dog meet and greet room.

There are many ways volunteers can help us, from weekday help within the shelter, weekend volunteer opportunities at adoption events, to fundraising within their local community. We will begin seeking foster homes for mother cats and kittens in the spring and will advertise when a foster is needed on our Facebook page. Anyone interested in fostering can contact the shelter to register for our upcoming Foster Education Seminar to be held on Sunday, Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to noon.

Q: When it comes to dropping animals off, adoptions and the types of animals the shelter can take on, what are the things you think are most important for people to know (especially anything you find people typically don’t know)?


A: HSCC is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation. We accept owner surrendered animals from Carroll County residents by appointment. When the appointment is made we can begin planning the best possible outcome for an animal, by making cage space or foster care available, and scheduling veterinary care.

We accept stray animals anytime, however it is always a good idea to call ahead so we can check lost reports and our social media pages for a possible owner. HSCC receives all types of domestic animals so always check our website whether you are looking for a hamster or a goat.

Q: Are there any new projects, initiatives or features at the humane society that you’ve taken on since becoming executive director, or that you hope to launch in the near future?

A: Last year we held our first Chip N’ Treat, a free microchipping event for dogs and cats. We will be holding our next microchipping event in February so stay tuned. Along with Chip N’ Treat we are working on providing more community outreach.

Our partnerships with companies such as Metro Ferals, PetSmart, and Bowman’s are affording us the opportunity to do more for our community. We have a new and improved Carroll County dog license for 2019. The new license now offers a free online profile for your pet that can be updated anytime, anywhere. The license also includes a 24/7 call center that will help return pets faster.

I am a true believer in continuing education and our staff has been attending new conferences and trainings that will broaden our network, and make us more effective in caring for and saving the lives of animals. We have been hard at work giving the shelter a little facelift including new paint, reorganizing areas, and streamlining processes.

Q: Do you have pets? And if so, can you tell us a little about them?

A: I am the proud mom of three dogs: Gretel, a 15-year-old chow mix; Thor, a 6-year-old German Shepherd; and Sig, a 5-year-old Shepherd Lab mix. I also have two cats, two angora rabbits, and a horse.