Baltimore County Now
Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE
Director, Department of Health and Human Services
Health Officer and Director, Department of Health
Are you someone who likes to start the New Year on a promising note? Have you fallen into the trap of making goals or resolutions that you cannot meet? Well, Baltimore County has a number of tools that may be just the thing for you!
If you live, work, or play in Baltimore County, use the following tips to become a STAR and shoot towards a healthier you. If some of the tips don't apply to you, don't sweat it. Instead, share them with someone you know who could benefit from them.
If you are thinking about quitting or want to quit, Baltimore County has a number of different programs at various times and locations that may work for you. And, even better our smoking cessation classes are free.
Take the Test
What you don’t know could hurt you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 13 to 64 know their status. You can get free, anonymous testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases at a Department of Health clinic. Sharing this information is great, spreading an infection is not.
Adopt a Pet
Owning a pet can help reduce your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. In addition, it’s a great antidote for loneliness that can also increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialization.
There are numerous pets in Baltimore County that are in need of someone who will love and care for them. Consider opening your heart and home to an adoptable pet.
Remember to Schedule an Appointment
January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Women can take care of their cervical and breast health by scheduling an annual mammogram and routine Pap test. These screenings may be available free of charge to income eligible women. Men, take care of the women you love, by reminding them to schedule these live-saving tests.
For more information about these tips, contact the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services by calling 410-887-BCHD (2243).
Dr. 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.
Barbara 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.