Families want 2 animal officials fired

June 17, 1994|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Sun Staff Writer

Four Carroll County residents who have been investigated in recent years by the Humane Society yesterday asked the county commissioners to fire two of the society's officials.

The residents included Carroll L. Schisler and A. Frederick Schisler, who were charged four years ago -- and later acquitted -- of animal cruelty on their Marston farm.

The other two residents were Daniel J. Ricci and Stephen J. Ricci of the 2200 block of Patapsco Road in Finksburg, who were investigated by Chief Animal Control Officer David R. Stair two years ago.

The four men asked that Mr. Stair and Humane Society Director Nicky Ratliff be fired, Daniel Ricci said. The officials should not be allowed to continue their jobs after losing a civil suit in March, in which they were accused of libeling and slandering the Schislers, he said.

"I'm not trying to attack these people personally," Daniel Ricci said. "I think it's a misuse of my tax money. I want to hold the commissioners accountable for that.

"I'm not a vindictive person," he continued. "I just want them [the Humane Society] to leave me alone."

Daniel Ricci said Mr. Stair was concerned about sheep and dogs on his 45-acre farm. Mr. Stair could not be reached for details about the complaint.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said the Riccis' and Schislers' complaints deserve attention, but that the commissioners could not fire Ms. Ratliff or Mr. Stair.

The county contracts with the Humane Society, a nonprofit group with its own board of directors. The board of directors would be responsible for firing employees.

Mr. Dell said he did not know whether the Riccis and Schislers have "a legally valid complaint." But he said he believes some county residents have "morally valid complaints" against the Humane Society. He said he has heard complaints from other residents about the way Humane Society officials enforce animal control laws.

He said he has not decided whether he agrees with the Riccis and Schislers that Ms. Ratliff and Mr. Stair should be fired.

"We cannot directly do anything about it," Mr. Dell said.

Asked what the commissioners could do, he said they could talk to the Humane Society board and express residents' concerns. He said the commissioners would not talk with the board until the Riccis and Schislers had submitted their complaints in writing.

Humane Society officials were not invited to yesterday's 40-minute meeting and did not know about it until after it ended. Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy also attended the meeting; Commissioner Julia W. Gouge did not.

Ms. Ratliff, who has been the Humane Society director for 12 years, would not comment yesterday.

Daniel Ricci said he asked to meet with the commissioners, and he and his brother invited the Schislers to attend.

In March, Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns awarded the Schislers $6,202 in a civil lawsuit they filed against Ms. Ratliff and Mr. Stair in 1991. The Schislers contended Humane Society officials had "maliciously" exposed them to public ridicule after their arrest on animal cruelty charges. The brothers had asked for $700,000 in damages.

Humane Society Board President Doris Wagner said the board paid the $6,202.

In 1990, the Humane Society raided the Schisler farm on Route 407 and found piles of rotting animal carcasses and more than 250 diseased and malnourished animals. In a trial later that year, District Judge Francis M. Arnold found them not guilty of animal cruelty.

Mr. Dell said he believes the Schislers work hard and are conscientious about caring for their animals.

"They just want to be left alone," he said.

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