May 1, 2013
For the Second Time In As Many Weeks --
Court Asked to Enjoin Prince George's County
Animal Management Division
to Obey the Law
Today, for the second time in as many weeks, Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA, filed a
Motion for Enforcement,
this time asking the Circuit Court to enjoin Prince George's County to comply with the Maryland Public Information Act.
By law, all government agencies must keep business records.
Prince George's County Animal Management Division (AMD) is unique in that
the County's Animal Control Statute Sec. 3-114 emphasizes this and requires
"... the Administrator to keep accurate and detailed records ..."
and provides a description of what records must be kept.
Business records are required to be kept by government agencies because, among other things,
these records are the basis for evaluating the effectiveness and performance of the agencies.
Trends in the data can be used to justify increases (or decreases) in staffing and budget allocations.
The availability of these records to the public is the foundation of the democratic process,
as they inform the public so that they can establish the kind of government that they choose.
When accurate information about the operation of the government is withheld,
the public is not able to intelligently exercise the right to participate in their government.
Accurate and Detailed Records
Prince George's County AMD has a dismal record when it comes to their mission to "shelter" animals.
Almost 10,000 animals are taken in each year,
but only about 10% -- about 1,000, are actually adopted from the Animal Services Facility (ASF).
Another 20% -- about 2,000, are transferred to independent non-profit organizations which are funded by donations.
The number adopted or transferred to Rescue Groups has remained generally flat at about 3,000 for the past few years.
A few animals are returned to their owners.
A small number -- about 3% -- about 300 per year, are suffering and require humane euthanasia.
A historical record was achieved in June 2011 when 970 animals were killed in that single month.
Only 30 animals actually required euthanasia that month.
The rest were healthy and adoptable, or could have been treated or rehabilitated
if appropriate programs had been in place.
In Prince George's County over 30,000 animals are needed eery year to replace those who die.
Over the past decade, on average, about 60% of all animals that came into the ASF were killed.
The CountyStat Team, established by County Executive Rushern Baker
to evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of various county agencies,
documented in their
that, when compared to three other neighboring jurisdictions,
the performance of Prince George's County AMD was the worst, or nearly so, of all three jurisdictions,
during each of the previous three years.
Referring to the number of animals saved, the County's Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Bradford Seamon,
observed in the public meeting, "Your numbers are NOT going up."
So, Prince George's County AMD went to work to "fix" the numbers, and in having done so,
fails to comply with the general requirement to keep business records,
as well as the Animal Control Statute's requirement for "accurate and detailed records".
Everyone agrees that the small number (typically about 3%) of animals coming into the ASF, that are suffering,
What we have seen, however, is that a large number of healthy animals were entered into the system
as requiring "euthanasia" (a misuse of the term in the absence of suffering) because they were "Unhealthy/Untreatable".
This is obviously a falsification of the data, and a violation of the "accurate and detailed records" requirement
for several reasons:
(If either of these conditions were "accurate", as required by law, the CDC would probably be on-site.)
- The Unhealthy/Untreatable percentage shot up to about 20% of intake.
- Animals were "Healthy", "Active" on intake, but "Unhealthy/Untreatable" when killed -- on the SAME DAY.
What you can't fix, you simply withhold.
Another tactic that Prince George's County AMD began to use is to reduce the number of animals killed
by simply not including their count in their
Beginning in February 2012, AMD simply did not include several significant groups of animals in their report.
The appearance was that there had been a dramatic reduction in the number of animals killed at the ASF,
when, in fact, the change was simply the withholding of data.
The Enron School of Accounting
There is a different set of books, depending on who is seeing them.
So far, we have mentioned that there is a database of business, records, such as it is,
with a significant number of records "fudged" to inflate the number of animals that appear to require "euthanasia".
These records are summarized in
which, since February 2012, do not include several large and controversial categories of animals.
Then there is another report which goes to the Prince George's County Office of Management and Budget
with still different numbers on it.
(A quick glance at one of these reports showed a 74% SAVE rate for AMD.
It would be necessary to take fudge and put a fudge topping on it for AMD to reach a 74% save rate.)
There are "Sunshine" laws for a reason.
The Open Meetings Act, and the Public Information Act help to reveal the quality (or lack thereof) of our government.
These laws help us to detect when our highly paid government employees are incompetent
and fail to establish the necessary programs so that the agency will accomplish its mission.
They help the public to learn about any dishonesty that might exist in the agencies
that we are funding with our tax dollars.
In order to accurately evaluate the operation of the Prince George's Animal Management Division,
Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA, has been submitting requests for public information on a monthly basis.
Considering the performance of the Prince George's County Animal Management Division,
is there any wonder that the requests would be incompletely filled or simply ignored,
every month except for two of the last 16 months?
That is why, on May 1, 2013, Prince Georges Feral Friends, SPCA filed a
Motion for Enforcement,
asking the Circuit Court to enjoin the county to comply with the Maryland Public Information Act
and honor the Information Requests that PGFF SPCA has made.