No city should allow animals to starve

It is unacceptable that Baltimore lacks the resources to prevent dogs and cats from suffering

August 01, 2011|By Tami Metz

Because I no longer live in Baltimore City, one might think I no longer have a dog in this fight. I do still own a home in Baltimore, though, and I work in the inner city five days a week, frequenting many economically challenged neighborhoods. In my travels, I have observed utter horror in the treatment of some of Baltimore's animals.

The plight of many dogs and cats in this city is devastatingly cruel. There is no escape for them. Torture, starvation and hopelessness radiate from empty eyes. Just last week, a kitten was set on fire in East Baltimore and suffered severe burns — at least the third such incident in the city this year.

I volunteer for a small community shelter where I now live that accepts animals from The Baltimore Animal Rescue and Care Shelter (BARCS) and the SPCA when we are able. The SPCA has a beautiful new facility and is doing tremendous work for the animals, BARCS does so much with the meager funding it gets from Baltimore. When the funds were cut for this year's budget, it seemed a travesty, particularly given this town's reputation for abuse of vulnerable animals — but also because as the economy goes south, more and more animals are being abandoned, dumped and ending up on the streets, facing a cruel fate.

The real effect of these cuts hit home to me just last week, however, when I received a call at the rescue from a Baltimore City resident. She was at her wit's end as a tiny puppy was boarded up in an abandoned house next to her home. She and her family could hear it whimpering at night, getting weaker by the day. She called the police, who responded and directed her to contact animal control. When she did, and explained the emergent nature of her problem, she was told the earliest animal control could respond to the property was three weeks from that point. When she expressed her dismay, she was told that the recent budget cuts had taken several animal control officers off the street. They were sorry, but it was the best they could do.

We need to do better. I would like to hear from each mayoral candidate about their specific proposals for funding BARCS. I would like to hear from each one how much of a priority properly funding animal control in the city of Baltimore will be to them. Baltimore has received damaging national coverage about our many incidents of horrific animal cruelty. While this may point to much deeper and problematic issues in our population, I want to hear about what can be done for the cats and dogs who are suffering today.

Fixing the causes of such behavior is complex and will take a great deal more than restoring lost animal control officers, but doing so would mean the world to one tiny puppy slowly starving to death.

Tami Metz lives in Fallston and works for the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. Her email is

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