Prince George's County Posts A Lie on the County Web Site, Invites the Press To Be Complicit

Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA
PO Box 1036, Bowie, MD 20718
(301) 262-6452 /

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January 12, 2012

Timothy W. Saffell

Prince George's County Posts A Lie on the County Web Site,
Invites the Press To Be Complicit

Upper Marlboro, MD. On January 3, 2012, Circuit Court Judge Sherrie M. Krauser signed a Declaratory Judgment and Order overruling the county's decades-long practice of attributing ownership to people who feed outdoor animals.

Daring the court to hold the County in contempt, Prince George's County published a Press Release today, stating that the judge had ruled that the case was moot.

The Declaratory Judgment prohibited the County from infringing on individual rights and liberties. The ruling was hard-won because the County fought this seeming uncontroversial issue for 2 1/2 years. Rather than appealing the ruling, the County has chosen to lie about it -- on the County's Official Website.

"By posting the false information on the County's official website as a Press Release, the county is not only in violation of the court's order, but is also inviting the Press to perpetuate the lie", said Timothy W. Saffell, President of Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA.

How Did We Get Here?

For decades, Animal Management has been advising residents of the county that "feeding feral cats is illegal". This alleged violation was used as the basis for confering ownership of the animals on the feeder, which, in turn, allowed the county to charge them with violations of Failure to License, Failure to Vaccinate, among others. Fines of thousands of dollars have been issued.

When the county could not produce a citation to the statute for the prohibition of feeding, and would not stop the prohibition of residents from engaging in this legal activity, Prince George's Feral Friends, SPCA filed suit for the unconstitutional enforcement of the statute.

PGFF, SPCA also learned that the County's Commission for Animal Control was illegally meeting behind closed doors, in violation of the State's Open Meetings Act, and that violation was included in the suit. As a result of our suit, the Commission for Animal Control began to allow the public to attend their meetings, from that time forward.

How Did The Judge Rule?

On January 3, 2012, The Honorable Sherrie M. Krauser signed a Declaratory Judgment and Order which ...

Declared decreed and adjudged, that a person is not the owner of an animal under Prince George's County Code, Animal Control, Section 3-101 et seq., if that person merely feeds an animal and otherwise does not act in a manner which creates ownership under Prince George's County Code, Animal Control, Section 3-101(57);

Mr. Saffell explained, "The judge did not change the law, of course, she just declared what PGFF, SPCA had been saying all along -- that, according to the law, feeding can not be used as the basis for attributing ownership in order to charge the feeder with violations."

The judge also ruled that ...

ORDERED that if the feeding of an animal creates a public nuisance, Prince George's County may enforce its laws as necessary to abate the nuisance;

"Again, this is not a change in the law, as there have always been nuisance laws which could be enforced.", Mr Saffell continued, "One thing that must be remembered, however, is that there are legal tests which must be met in order to constitute a nuisance violation. The mere feeding of an animal is not one of them. The act of feeding must create the nuisance condition. Since feral cat feeders generally feed in remote locations, and clean up after the feeding process, the creation of a legitimate nuisance condition is a rare occurrence."

"This is a tremendous win for the people and animals of Prince George's County and signals the beginning of the end of the abusive tactics that have been used by Animal Management against Good Samaritans in the county." Mr. Saffell observed.

Since the Commission for Animal Control had begun to open its meetings to the public, the judge ...

ORDERED that the remaining counts of the Plaintiff's Amended Complaint are hereby dismissed as moot.

It is obvious that the county considers this to be a very significant loss, as can be inferred by their Press Release of January 12, 2012, which says ...

Judge Krauser of the Circuit Court signed a declaratory judgment and order dismissing the case as moot. The Court ruled that if feeding an animal creates a public nuisance, Prince George's County may enforce its laws as necessary to abate the nuisance. The Court also ordered that the remaining counts of the amended complaint from the Prince George's Feral Friends be dismissed as moot.

Not only did they completely omit the fact that the judge had ruled AGAINST the county on the Feeding-Confers-Ownership aspect of the case, but they seemed to be stating that the judge had ruled FOR the county and the entire case had been dismissed as moot.

The County's modus operandi is very consistent. After lying to county residents and bringing false charges against them, being corrected by the ruling of the Circuit Court Judge, they lied about the ruling, then they used that lie to proudly announce that ...

"The Department of Environmental Resources is pleased with the decision of the Circuit Court," said Samuel E. Wynkoop, Jr., Director of DER. "This decision reinforces the County's position on animal management."

Timothy Saffell concluded, "I don't believe that the residents of Prince George's County want a government that violates the law on a daily basis, makes false accusations against citizens, violates their constitutional rights, overreaches its authority, and is based on a foundation of untruths."

The Beginning of the End for the Old Regime

The tenure of Rodney Taylor as Administrator of Animal Management has been one of demonstrable failure. In spite of the new 37,000 sq. ft. building, the number of animals adopted from the Animal Services Facility has remained flat at about 10% of intake. On average, over the past decade, 60% of all adoptable animals that have entered the facility have been killed -- a total of about 60,000 healthy animals. The odds for cats are even worse -- an 85% kill rate.

During his campaign, Rushern Baker stated that the County's kill rate has been too high, and that we need a "New Director" and to get the right people working at the shelter. Animal lovers are waiting for County Executive Baker to fulfill his promise and make that change.

In summary, Mr. Saffell said, "Other jurisdictions are saving 90% or more of all animals that enter their open admission, municipal shelters. Policies need to be changed so that they not only follow the law, but protect our citizens, rather than abusing them, and save the lives of animals while being a positive resource for the community. It can be done in Prince George's County as well, with the proper leadership."


P.S. Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization supported by donations from individuals. Donations are tax-deductible.

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