Cumberland Times-News

March 16, 2013

Allegany lays groundwork for animal control

Matthew Bieniek
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners are giving the county flexibility on long-term arrangements for the future of animal control and shelter operations.

A proposed local law would allow the county to operate its own shelter, or turn over operations of the shelter to an approved animal welfare organization, county officials said.

The county would retain the option of appointing some county employees to staff the shelter.

It’s unclear whether animal control operations would be affected.

The code home rule bill was introduced at the regular business meeting of Allegany County commissioners on Thursday.

A hearing on the bill is planned for the upcoming regular commission business meeting Thursday at 5 p.m. at the county office building on Kelly Road.

Once the hearing is completed, commissioners can put the bill on a future agenda for a vote.

Commissioners signed a letter of understanding earlier this month with the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation on a possible takeover of shelter operations once a new shelter is completed.

Members of the foundation were in the audience for the introduction of the bill Thursday.

“This paves the way for us to move forward with our agreement,” said Dick DeVore, the county’s director of the Department of Emergency Services.

The local nonprofit organization has stepped forward during the Allegany County Animal Shelter’s philosophical move away from euthanasia and has a capital campaign under way to construct an 11,000-square-foot adoption and care facility near the site of the current animal shelter.

Prior to November 2010, the Allegany County Animal Shelter Management Foundation was primarily an advocacy organization that conducted adoption events, organized feline neuter clinics, and purchased vaccinations and flea and tick control for all shelter animals.

The organization was founded in 2000.

“All that changed dramatically with Allegany County’s courageous decision to change the direction of our animal shelter,” Tina Rafferty, the foundation’s president, said.

In February, after concluding a six-month search for a location, the foundation retained award-winning animal care facility architects Stoiber and Associates.

The plan is to develop and construct a new adoption and care facility on land near the current county facility on Furnace Street.

When complete, the complex would be capable of housing approximately 103 dogs and 120 cats indoors in modern, multipurpose facilities designed to aid the adoption process and improve working conditions for volunteers and staff.   

 Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.