Shelly Deltuva, director of the Animal Welfare Society of Howard County, can be a tough interview. This despite the fact that Deltuva is gregarious and personable and - when it comes to animals - exceptionally kind.
However, when she is in the Animal Welfare Society's Davis Road office, Deltuva is in high demand.
During the course of our short conversation, Deltuva handled a half-dozen phone inquiries. One caller was a Delaware man who planned to drive a stray puppy to the Howard County animal shelter, where the dog would have better odds of being adopted than in shelters back home. Shortly after that call, a woman entered the office and stated that she had brought six cats and two dogs that needed shots. The interview was both informative and fragmentary.
The Animal Welfare Society has a long history of service to Howard County. Founded in 1944 by Marie Werking, the nonprofit organization operated the county's first animal shelter at the society's current location for more than 50 years. However, the opening of the adjacent county-run shelter, coupled with rising financial demands, has resulted in a change in the Animal Welfare Society's mission.
For the past three years, its primary function has been to serve as a low-cost spay and neuter center. The center is open two to three days per week, depending upon the availability of volunteer veterinarians. (All of the society's veterinarians offer their services on a volunteer basis, with most volunteering one day per month.) Dr. Sally Morris merits special mention because she volunteers at the shelter not monthly but weekly.
According to Deltuva, the number of animals brought in for spaying or neutering is divided equally between strays and pets. In both cases, providing the low-cost service helps reduce the population of unwanted domestic animals.
"Over 90 percent of people who bring in a pet or stray wouldn't spay or neuter without the low-cost service," Deltuva said.
During the first half of this year, the society spayed or neutered more than 320 animals, with a slightly greater number of operations performed on cats than dogs.
In addition to the spay and neuter service, the society offers low-cost vaccines and laboratory services. Included are vaccines for rabies, distemper and feline leukemia. Among the lab services offered are tests for heartworm, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
"Most people who use the vaccine service are being ordered to do so by Howard County Animal Control," Deltuva said.
The Animal Welfare Society, which receives no county funding, covers its operating expenses through donations and income raised from services it provides. In the coming years, Deltuva hopes the society can expand its facility to include an additional surgery room and extend its services to include sponsorship of a pet foster care program.
Being neighbors allows the Animal Welfare Society and Howard County Animal Control to work in close collaboration. The county shelter might take in up to 70 animals on a given day, with numbers evenly divided between strays and giveaways.
Many public shelters have maximum hold periods of four to five days. While the Howard County shelter is not a no-kill shelter, Animal Control has a flexible and humane policy.
"We hold for as long as the animal is healthy and space is available," said Janet Calhoun, the shelter's adoption coordinator. "In some cases, that can be a matter of months. Young and small animals tend to move most quickly."
The shelter, which can hold up to 30 dogs and 70 cats, is open for adoptions Monday through Saturday. Volunteers from Animal Advocates of Howard County staff the shelter for Saturday adoption hours. Animal Advocates also posts pictures of animals available for adoption throughout the county as well as on the Internet (www.animal-advocates.org).
Information: Animal Welfare Society, Shelly Deltuva, 410-465-4350; Howard County Animal Control, Janet Calhoun, 410-313-2780; Animal Advocates of Howard County, 410-880-2488.
The Howard County Arts Council in Ellicott City was recently awarded a 2000 National Association of Counties Achievement Award for "No Boundaries," an arts program for developmentally disabled young adults. The honor is a part of a noncompetitive awards program that recognizes innovative government programs.
Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks was a partner in organizing the therapeutic recreation program.
On July 31, the State Highway Administration will hold a Maryland's Scenic Byways event at the B&O; Railroad Station Museum in Ellicott City.
The event will include a caravan of vintage vehicles on Main Street at 10 a.m. and the presentation of Maryland's 31 new scenic byways at 10:30 a.m. Information: 888- 375-1975 or 410-545-8637.