Many of the animal control agencies in the Baltimore metropolitan area have found temporary ways to dispose of dogs and cats after they've been put down. Several are searching for a long-term solution for disposal, however.
Agencies in Howard, Carroll, Washington, Allegany and Montgomery counties will incinerate their animals at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Animal Health Laboratories through Dec. 31, the end of a six-month arrangement with the facilities. Baltimore City's animal control agency has turned to Biomedical Waste Services of Hanover, a medical-waste disposal company, to incinerate its animals for 90 days.
Because of the steep cost of incineration, however, Baltimore is considering other options for disposing of the 15,000 deceased animals - almost 300 tons - it handles each year. An annual contract with Biomedical Waste Services would cost $300,000.
"With all the drug testing and the crime, it seemed just preposterous to spend a quarter of a million on dead animals," said City Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson.
Animal control offices in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties have found a long-term solution with Phoenix Services of Baltimore, a medical-waste incineration company. The Humane Society of Anne Arundel County will use Biomedical Waste Services for the long term.
The animal shelters began searching for ways to dispose of animals after Valley Proteins, a Winchester, Va.-based rendering company, refused to accept deceased companion animals after June 30. Valley Proteins supplies pet-food and commercial-feed manufacturers with processed meat scraps and recycled oils from restaurant deep-fat fryers. The company chose to end service to animal control agencies after a report by a Washington, D.C., television station about the company led to pressure from pet-food manufacturers to stop rendering companion animals.
Because of the extreme difference in cost between Biomedical Waste Services and Valley Proteins - the rendering company charged $23,000 a year - Baltimore is considering building an incinerator, which would cost less but would require operation by the Health Department. It is also discussing options with the Department of Public Works, which has several waste-disposal contracts.
The Humane Society of Anne Arundel County's arrangement with Biomedical Waste Management will cost $150 more per week than the $130 a week that Valley Proteins charged.
Animals from Washington, Allegany, Carroll and Howard counties will be sent to the Maryland Department of Agriculture's Animal Health Laboratory incinerator in Frederick until December.
"At the present time, we're looking at a short-term solution," said Capt. Wayne Fryer, public information officer for Montgomery County police's Animal Services Division.
Incineration at the animal health labs presents an added cost for the counties. "It's going to triple if not quadruple our expenses," Fryer said.
Baltimore County and Anne Arundel Animal Control have agreed to work with Phoenix Services, a Baltimore medical-waste incineration company, as a long-term solution to disposing of domestic animals. Anne Arundel is working out the details of its contract, including the cost of service.
"For right now it definitely provides the same service we need," said Tahira Thomas, administrator of Anne Arundel County Animal Control.