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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: pet adoption

photo of poinsettia plantDr. Barbara McLean, Chief of Prevention and Protection, Baltimore County Animal Services, Baltimore County Department of Health

The same foods, decorations and lighting that make the holidays come alive for people can turn deadly when it comes to your pet. Especially vulnerable to the season’s delights are dogs, cats and birds.

Foods that you enjoy this time of year aren’t necessarily appropriate for your pet. Avoid giving your pet scraps from the table—especially bones since they can splinter and cause serious health problems. Other tasty treats that your pet should not eat are onions, grapes, raisins and chocolate. Beware of individually wrapped candies since your pet doesn’t know that the wrapper isn’t for eating, and as a result, it might easily ingest both the candy and the wrapper.

If serving alcoholic beverages, make sure unattended drinks are out of your pet’s reach. Alcohol can cause animals to become weak, ill or even go into a deadly coma. If having a party, your best bet is to ensure that your animal is in a quiet room of his or her own complete with a bed, food, water, toys and wearing his or her identification information.

Other seasonal items that can cause problems for your pet are plants. Amaryllis, hibiscus, holly, lilies, mistletoe, poinsettias and certain types of ivy should be placed in a spot that your pet cannot access. Among other things, if ingested, these items can cause kidney failure, fatal heart problems and just plain old upset stomachs.  

Christmas trees should be anchored securely as climbing cats and dogs with tails can easily knock them over. Hang breakable, glass ornaments, lights and tinsel high on the tree to prevent your pet from ingesting tinsel, which can block the intestines and from getting tangled in a string of lights. Also, avoid using edible tree decorations such as cranberry or popcorn strings since your pet will be tempted to sniff and taste these items.

Be sure to keep your pet safe from the dangers lurking beneath and around your Christmas tree as well. Fallen pine needles should be cleaned up frequently since they can be toxic when eaten by your pet, and always ensure that your tree’s water supply is covered.

And finally, just as you would do for a toddler- kitten or puppy proof your home. Cover electrical outlets and cords. Or, consider using pet proof extension cords or animal anti-chew sprays of which there are several varieties. Prevent accidental electrocutions by taping exposed outdoor or indoor wires to the sides of the house or the wall.

I hope that these helpful tips will keep you and your furry/feathered friends safe and happy this holiday season.


Sweet Deal graphicBarbara McLean, M.D.
Prevention, Protection, and Preparedness Chief
Baltimore County Health Department

Hearts are in the air this Valentine’s season and Baltimore County wants you to warm your own! Adopt any cat or dog from the County’s shelter between February 8 to 15 and you’ll pay half-off the normal adoption fee. This sweet deal means that you can adopt a cat or kitten for just $25 or a dog or puppy for $32.50.

It’s a great way to give yourself your very own, heart-friendly Valentine. Not only can you save on the sugary treats, you can also improve your quality of life! According to the Centers for Disease Control, owning a pet can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and loneliness, while increasing opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.

Baltimore County’s sweet deal on pet adoptions makes being a responsible pet owner easier than ever. Included in the adoption fee, your new pet will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated against rabies and other diseases, licensed (which is required by Baltimore County law) and micro-chipped with a lifetime registry!

To adopt a pet during this Valentine’s Day season, you must be at least 18 years old and present a photo identification card. This deal doesn’t get any sweeter!

View adoptable pets at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter.


Parternerships for PetsGregory Wm. Branch, MD, MBA, CPE
Director, Health and Human Services | Health Officer

On Friday, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that the County will issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) soliciting non-profit organizations to provide animal sheltering services for dogs and cats on a long-term basis. 

It makes perfect sense for the County to take a fresh, creative approach to solving problems associated with animal care by establishing public-private partnerships with non-profit organizations that provide animal sheltering and adoption services.

Organizations would receive grant funding to offset a portion of the cost of the services and the balance of the cost would be covered by fees, sales, and other revenues from fund raising events, charitable contributions, interest earnings and endowments.  The County would continue to run its own shelter, focusing on public health concerns such as rabies and cases of animal cruelty.

Public-private partnerships are agreements between private organizations and government agencies for the provision of services to the community. These partnerships cut costs, support local businesses, increase public satisfaction, and when it comes to animal care, they save lives.  

Baltimore County has been studying this issue for more than a year, and this kind of private-public partnership is a blueprint for success in addressing our animal care needs.  It will allow non-profits to do what they do best – providing long-term care and adoption services – while the County continues to focus on the public health issues associated with animal care.

The RFP will be formally posted online this week on the County website. 


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