Target: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore
Goal: Demand Baltimore devote more resources to preventing animal cruelty and neglect
A report will soon be released condemning Baltimore’s agencies for failing to cooperate with other organizations and curb the city’s serious animal abuse problem. The issue gained national attention in 2009 when a pit bull named Phoenix was burned so badly she eventually had to be euthanized. As a result, then-Mayor Sheila Dixon organized an animal cruelty task force. Since its creation, however, the new mayor and new Police Commissioner have failed to hold up the responsibilities the task force established and this must be fixed immediately.
The task force has since become known as the Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission. Despite what seems to have been a strong move toward repairing Baltimore’s bad reputation for protecting its animals, a report already delivered by the commission in April claims that they have had significant setbacks as a result of the city’s agencies failing to do their part. Part of the April report reads “Most distressing, many of the stakeholders in the fight against animal abuse have not cooperated with the commission. We have lost ground in the past year … to protect animals from abuse.”
The report assigns the majority of the blame to the Police Department. Since the retirement of the former commissioner, the department’s interest in helping the commission has dwindled. Many of the current law enforcement officials still view animal abuse as a minor property crime. Animal Control is also largely to blame. A system was set up in 2009 to track animal cruelty cases, but Animal Control never implemented these protocols. Dr. Oxiris Barbot, commissioner for the Baltmore City Health Department which oversees Animal Control, even neglected to attend a single meeting of the anti-abuse commission during the first 18 months she was appointed. Perhaps the most upsetting fact of all is that, despite the size of Baltimore, the entire city only has one animal control officer on duty at night because it is dramatically underfunded and understaffed.
The currently unreleased report is expected to be an even more scathing indictment of the city’s failure to make progress toward protecting its animals. Please sign the petition below to demand the Police Department and the Health Department work with the Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission.
Dear Mayor Rawlings-Blake,
In 2009 a task force called the Anti-Animal Abuse Advisory Commission was created in order to deal with Baltimore’s notorious animal cruelty problems. Since its creation, however, city agencies such as the Health Department and Police Department have failed to attend meetings, change policies, or work with the commission in any way to improve the current conditions. Five key members of the commission have already resigned, including the chair.
It is appalling that a city with as many resources as Baltimore continues to fail to protect its animals because of a lack of funding and cooperation. A report from the commission that is yet to be released is expected to bring more sad news. This cannot continue. I demand that you make more of an effort to not only provide more funding for Animal Control, but also force city agencies to work with the commission to solve this problem. Lives are being lost every day because of the city’s negligence and it has to stop now.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: rockychrysler via Flickr