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City’s Animal Adoption Practices Explained

Recently I’ve received some notes from staff clarifying City’s animal and adoption practices, Please see that below:

When an animal is found at large and is impounded by the City Animal Control Officer, as per section 102-6, “the animal found at large shall, if possile, be impouned by the city and taken to the City Animal Control Shelter for a period of at least three workdays, or to other approproiate shelter”.

City’s current practices are to hold “unowned” (no sign of ownership) animals for three business days (or workdays) and animals that appear to have strayed from a family for five business days, to mirror County policy. An animal on a stray hold does not receive vet care unless it is injured and must be stabilized. Because of this, each “stray” animal must remain within the City facility as opposed to a foster home as there is potential to contaminate or infect owned animals. Once an animal is released from stray hold and is accepted into the City adoption program, has been tested for appropriate viruses or parasites, the animal has potential to enter foster care.

In order to enter the City adoption program, each animal is assessed on three levels, much of which can be observed during the stray hold – behaviorally, socially, and medically. For example, the City cannot adopt out a known biter, a cat with inappropriate urination habits, or a Feline Leukemia positive cat. Such animals would be transferred to another rescue or agency or, possibly, transferred to PGAMG in which case euthanasia is a very real possibility due to the liability of the individual animal.

In recent years, the City has adopted a formal adoption fee structure into the City Code. This allows for the City to be compensated for part of the medical work each animal received prior to adoption. Each animal is sterilized, receives age appropriate vaccines, is started on preventatives, and is tested for virals or heartworm and tick borne disease. Many times, stray animals come to the shelter with upper respriatroy illness or intestinal parasites. We treat these maladies, as well.

Because we cannot immediately turn animals over, sometimes space must be taken into consideration as our city facility cannot house more than 10-12 animals (depending on the animal and cage requirements) at a time. If an animal is too energetic or even too large for the city facility we must then transport the animal to PGAMG who will then perform the same stray holds as outlined above, giving the owner the appropriate time to redeem the animal.

City Code section 102-7(C) states, “illegal animals, feral animals, exotic animals, dangerous animals, and vicious animals may be immediately euthanized, if the public health, safety or welfare so requires, or taken to the County Animal Shelter , without being retained by the City Animal Control Shelter for any period.” As Trap-Neuter-Release programs are not yet accepted into regular PGAMG practice, College Park does not recognize TNR and is required to transport to the County facility. (Note- eartipped cats are released as per County Ordinance 3-122(e) which references handling of eartipped cats.)

The College Park Animal Control Officer makes every effort possible to reach out to the communities and locate the owner of any animal impounded as stray. Ads are posted on social media: Facebook, Craigslist, and Nextdoor; emails are blasted to the Animal Welfare Committee members; and community list servs are utilized. Though volunteers may be available for weekend care, volunteers may not handle redemption of animals as there is an enforcement and educational aspect which must be addressed with the release of the animal and the payment of the fees and sometimes fines.

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