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Calvert Animals Win a Yes Vote

No-kill shelter construction planned for 2018 in Prince Frederick

About animal well-being, Calvert County is a passionate place. Devoted animal lovers have made it so, pouring time, effort and fundraising into the creation of a half-dozen welfare organizations for animals in need, including shelters, clinics, a resale shop raising funds for neutering and spaying and a feral cat sanctuary.
    Now county government is stepping up in a big way to create Calvert’s first dedicated, publicly funded shelter for homeless and neglected animals. It will follow a no-kill policy.
    Construction on the 8,000 to 14,000 square foot shelter on three acres in Prince Frederick begins in 2018.
    The move is a big deal for animal lovers and rescue organizations that have struggled for years to acquire resources to care for a growing population.
    “There are more homeless animals than there are organizations able to care for and re-home them,” says Janette Thompson, president of Calvert Animal Welfare League. “We believe that the new Calvert County shelter will take some of the strain off private rescues, result in the humane care of more animals, and hopefully far less euthanasia of adoptable animals.”
    The cat lovers of Friends of Felines agree. “Our commissioners are bringing us into the 21st century with a no-kill shelter,” says Friends’ Carol Hall.

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By last December, the scope of unmet need was the unavoidable elephant in the room.
    That’s when the current shelter — Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville — raised a virtual flag of surrender.
    In a report to the Calvert County Board of Commissioners, the Tri-County advisory board outlined extreme deficits and recommended Calvert County consider its own shelter.
    Among the problems: consistent understaffing; no veterinarian on site; cramped space in an antiquated building without air conditioning; and miscommunication between the counties and all animal welfare agencies.

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Behind the new shelter is Rick Bailey of Marrick Properties. Convinced of the need, the builder proposed a public-private partnership, with his company supplying land and the construction. Calvert County, in turn, will lease the building with an option to purchase.
    The new shelter will replace the Tri-County Shelter that has served Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s, counties since 1960. Calvert County has contributed $200,000 to the annual budget of the Tri-County Shelter, which is under the control of Charles County government.
    The project is still in the planning stage, and a budget has not been approved. The design anticipates air conditioning, a dog run and suitable housing for all animals including livestock, with appropriate medical facilities and a properly trained staff.
    “This is a day we could only hope for and dream about,” said former Calvert County Commissioner Linda Kelley, who lobbied to give the county its own shelter.