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Animal Shelter Adoptions May Expand

New policy would include animal rescue organizations.

Animal care groups spoke out about the shelter's adoption policies, and the Animal Advisory Committee took heed.

The committee has tasked a seven-member subcommittee to draft a new policy for the Animal Shelter. The policy will involve animal rescue groups and humane organizations in animal adoptions, as requested by several animal care groups in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area.

The policy will outline which animals can be included, the criteria that will qualify rescue and humane organizations to participate and how the relationship with the shelter will be carried out. The relationship will be determined by answering questions about who has control of the animal, where the animals will stay and how the animals will be tracked.

“It’s a step in a new direction,” said Mary Harper (Leesburg), subcommittee chairman.

The shelter plans to work with outside groups to increase adoptions of dogs with modifiable behaviors that do not pass the temperament test. The county does not have the personnel or budget to work with dogs showing toy or food aggression, shyness and other behaviors, which breed rescue groups, behaviorists and others can help the dogs overcome in order to become adoptable, Harper said.

HARPER AND SIX OTHERS were selected to be on the subcommittee late last year, including Janette Reever, animal control officer; Karen Benoit, shelter supervisor; Steven Zucker (Dulles), Ann Gallus (Catoctin) and two rescue group representatives, Lea Spickler of Virginia German Shepherd Rescue and Jo Bighouse of Golden Retriever Rescue Education.

“We had a reaction to the committee selection,” said Gallus, who chairs the Animal Advisory Committee, about the Jan. 15 committee meeting, which was canceled for a lack of a quorum. “One woman objected to not being named … and left in a huff.”

Subcommittee members were selected based on their reputation in the rescue community and their connection to animal care groups and association with breeds that the shelter regularly handles, Gallus said. “You can’t please all the people all the time. You make the best decisions you can,” she said.

The subcommittee first met in December and will continue to meet on a monthly basis on the third Wednesday of the month one hour before the Animal Advisory Committee meets. “We have a one-year time frame to work on this project, and a lot of it will hinge on the new director as well,” Harper said.

TIMOTHY “TIM” CRUM is scheduled to begin Feb. 4 as director of the Department of Animal Care and Control, replacing Robert Montgomery, who retired in October and agreed to continue part-time through January to help with the transition.

“I’m one who is big on cooperation. Certainly we will sit down and talk with [animal care groups] to see if there is a way to hear their concerns,” Crum said. “I want to understand what their concerns are and give thought and weight to everything that’s done. If there is a way to collaborate with another group, there wouldn’t be any reason not to implement those efforts.”

Crum added, “The more connected you are with the community and those around you, the better your services can be.”