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Citizens group considered to advise Humane Society


Carroll County Commissioners said yesterday they will consider forming a citizens group to advise the Humane Society on enforcement of animal control laws.

Humane Society Executive Director Carolyn N. "Nicky" Ratliff suggested the committee because she said the county needs to clarify how to enforce laws pertaining to loose dogs, barking dogs, licensing and other issues.

"I want the commissioners to review our policies and procedures as they pertain to law enforcement . . . so we're all working toward the same goal," she said.

In the past, the commissioners and Humane Society have disagreed on such issues as whether animal control officers should patrol neighborhoods or respond only to complaints.

"How do you want us to enforce the law? I'm willing to do anything the county wants me to do to enforce these laws," Ms. Ratliff said.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said a citizens group would be a good idea and would bring "a new fresh look" to animal control enforcement.

"I know the farmers have concerns," said Mr. Dell, whose family farms on Sullivan Road in Westminster. "When a group of citizens come together it takes the heat off us as well as the Humane Society."

Commissioners W. Benjamin Brown and Richard T. Yates agreed the county should form an advisory group.

"The public might be able to give us some better ideas," Mr. Brown said.

County law sets wide guidelines under which the Humane Society develops a list of rules to be enforced.

Residents should decide how the rules are enforced, Ms. Ratliff said. They usually ask for stricter enforcement than county officials expect they will, she added.

The advisory group should have members from all parts of the county and from different professions and backgrounds, Ms. Ratliff said.

In addition to enforcing animal control laws, the Humane Society takes in about 4,500 animals yearly and returns 36 percent of stray dogs to their owners. The agency has one part-time and 10 full-time employees.

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