1991 came in like a lamb, as January brought reports that a peacock and a goat had vanished, along with 17 cats and 83 dogs.
A little less sheepish was February, which brought calls of a lost pig, an absent bull and two wayward goats.
But business picked by spring, and in May, the Carroll Humane Society fielded reports that a bull, a horse, two goats, a bird and a ferret were nowhere to be found, in addition to about 100 house pets.
"That's pretty typical for around here," said Humane Society Director Carolyn N. "Nicky" Ratliff.
The department wasone of several that submitted a 1993 budget proposal to the county commissioners last week.
Along with a request for $351,735 for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, Ratliff delivered a year-endreport that gave a glimpse at the goings-on at Carroll's animal shelter.
Taking reports of lost critters is only one service provided by the Humane Society.
The department's 10-member staff takes in stray and lost animals, attempts to reunite lost pets with their owners, runs an animal adoption program, investigates animal cruelty reports, and responds to calls about wild and injured animals.
The department also conducts educational programs for schools and takes pets on visits to nursing homes and other institutions.
During 1991, the society took in some 5,000 animals, including 1,458 dogs and 2,278 cats, according to Ratliff's report.
The department was able to find homes for about 25 percent of the dogs and about 7 percent of the cats -- not bad for an animal shelter, Ratliff said.
However, the department must perform euthanasia on many of the animals that can't be placed.
In 1991, 2,519 animals (663 dogs, 1,856 cats) underwenteuthanasia, about eight each day.
Of those deaths, 514 were requested by the owners of the animals, and the rest were stray and abandoned animals.
The society sends the bodies to a Virginia company that transforms them into livestock feed, a system Ratliff said is usedby nearly all area animal shelters.
During last week's budget session, County Commissioner President Donald I. Dell wondered whether the animal bodies could be put in county landfills instead.
"A lot of worse stuff goes in there already," Dell said.
Ratliff told thecommissioners that there are no state laws prohibiting the landfilling of deceased animals, and that the method is sound from an ecological standpoint. It probably won't happen in the near future, however. It doesn't save a lot of money, and the rendering expenses account for only about 1 percent of the society's budget.
The budget requestis up 2.4 percent from the current year's revised spending plan of $343,375. Rising insurance costs account for most of the increase, shesaid.
"There's nothing we can about things like that," Ratliff told the commissioners.