Dog bites to pools

The Baltimore Sun

Ramar Martin

Environmental health inspector

Howard County government

Salary --$40,000

Age --33

Years on the job --Three

How he got started --With a degree in chemistry, Martin went to work for a nonprofit lead abatement program in Baltimore City. He later worked for a private company in hazardous materials removal. Martin then decided he wanted to move to the environmental health inspector side and applied to Howard County.

Duties --Also known as an environmental sanitarian, Martin is responsible for a wide range of public health inspections and investigations to ensure compliance with health laws. This includes following up on numerous residential complaints such as dog bites, indoor and outdoor odor nuisances, improper trash disposal and well testing. Martin also provides environmental inspections and health surveys of homes and facilities that are involved in adoptions, assisted living, day care and foster care. This includes inspections for the overall safety issues of the building such as structural, electrical, plumbing and water.

During the summer months, a large chunk of Martin's job revolves around public pool inspections. He's responsible for 40 pools that are inspected once a month for safety, water quality and maintenance.

Territory --Martin said he will go anywhere in Howard County, but his general area is Laurel, Jessup and Elkridge.

Complaints --Inspectors try to respond to a complaint within three to five days of the initial call, except when dealing with reported animal bites in which case they respond within 24 hours.

Dealing with the public --Although Martin is routinely investigating complaints, he has not come across too many people who are overly defensive or aggressive.

Dog bites --Martin said he's never been bitten himself, but he frequently follows up after a dog bite has occurred or another animal nuisance complaint has been filed. If a dog or other domestic animal bites a person and a report is filed, the animal is quarantined for 10 days where it is observed for any changes in behavior. Martin said he must do both an initial visit and a final visit. Quarantine periods vary for bites between two animals, but one is issued even if the pet is vaccinated to guarantee the vaccination is working. A quarantine can be as long as six months for a pet that is not vaccinated and was bitten by an animal infected with rabies or by one that got away and couldn't be tested.

The good --"The challenges. I like the interaction with people. We kind of lead them in the direction they need to go."

The bad --Dealing with people who are frustrated can be challenging. "Sometimes people don't want to listen."

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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