Q: For how long do you keep animals?
A: HSHC meets State and County mandated holding periods for stray dogs and cats. These holding periods are designed so that pet owners have a reasonable amount of time to find lost pets. The stray hold periods are:10 days for dogs wearing a license, 4 days for dogs with no identification and 3 days for cats, excluding Sundays and holidays, Once the holding period is up the pet becomes the property of HSHC. HSHC then determines the best course of action, which often means making that pet available for adoption as soon as we have completed some basic medical screening, vaccinations, and whatever else the animal might need to fit this criteria.

Depending on the situation, HSHC might hold an animal longer than even our stray hold period or place them into foster care. This is particularly true of very young kittens and puppies under 8 weeks of age, and therefore not yet old enough to adopt out. We have no time limit by which animals must be adopted, as we work to adopt out every pet possible. Some animals, due to age, history, and health issues may remain in Foster or on-site until we find the right home. HSHC will continue to try as long as we feel we can safely place them into a responsible, loving new home.

Q: Does HSHC put animals to sleep?
A: Yes, for a variety of reasons we find ourselves in the unfortunate position to have to euthanize some animals. We are looking for people like you to help us save more and more lives so that euthanasia becomes less necessary.

There are a number of reasons for which animals might be euthanized at HSHC. We sometimes receive animals in very poor health or those that may have been abused or neglected and are simply not safe to place as pets. For these animals we provide a humane, dignified end to their suffering. Our technicians are very skilled and compassionate people, whose goal it is to save lives.

We are limited as to the number of animals we can accommodate in our facility at any one time. Space is a concern because over-crowding can lead to unsanitary conditions in which more animals become sick, requiring us to euthanize otherwise healthy animals. When we receive more animals than we can hold, we first look for foster care for appropriate animals. If we cannot find enough foster homes, we identify the animals least likely to be adopted and those are sadly put to sleep.

Pets involved in attacks on people or serious attacks on other animals are sometimes considered too dangerous to hold or handle and might be ordered euthanized by a county official, veterinarian or by HSHC.

A pet owner will sometimes bring a pet to us and ask that we put it to sleep. In almost all cases, this has been a much loved family pet, who has reached the end of a long, happy life. Public euthanasia is a service we provide, but because we are not set up to provide for the medical needs of owned pets, we can not allow owners to stay with their pet for the procedure. For this reason, we recommend that if at all possible a pet be taken to their own veterinarian where he or she will be more comfortable; less stressed and can stay with their beloved family as they say a final good-bye.

The decision to end an animal’s life is never, regardless of the reason, made arbitrarily or capriciously. It is a sad reality for us, and one, we are working very hard to change. Please let us tell you about ways you might join us and help save the lives of pets in our community.

Q: Do you have any small dogs, puppies, kittens or other species available for adoption?
A: We receive animals constantly and many leave each day to go to new homes. With so many coming and going, we suggest that you come in to look for yourself. The animals here now, may be entirely different than those here later today. We do not want to tell you that we have a specific animal as it may be adopted before you get here. Nor do we want to tell you that we do not have an animal as it might come in at any moment.

This is a good time to tell us a bit about your lifestyle, exactly what kind of pet you are looking for and other such info. so that we may soundly counsel you. A busy family with active small children may do better with a young adult dog as opposed to a small toy breed, or an elderly person might not want a young rambunctious kitten after all, etc. We cannot hold animals.

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Q: How do I report that my pet has been lost?
A: As a public service, we accept lost and found animal reports. While you may report your pet lost by phone or on our website, we strongly encourage you to come to the shelter, bring a picture and look through our kennels or cat room for your pet. We encourage you to do this minimally every two or three days. You may post a lost flyer in our lost/ found book in the lobby. This is the only safe way to determine if your pet has come into the shelter. Although we check our reports constantly and do our best to match incoming animals to reports, it is often difficult to know, based on a written description, whether your animal is here.

Q: What should I do if I find a stray animal?
 Is the animal injured?

A. Yes – Stop – Call Animal Control at 410.638.3505
No – Continue below

Does the animal appear vicious or dangerous to you?

A. Yes – Stop – Call Animal Control at 410.638.3505
No – Continue below

Do you have possession of the animal?

A. Yes – If you are comfortable doing so, you may load the animal into your car, we recommend using a crate, as this is an unfamiliar animal to you and bring it to HSHC during regular shelter hours. If it is before or after shelter operating hours, please call Animal Control at 410.638.3505.

No – Nor do I want to catch it, bring it into my house, car, etc. – Call Animal Control at 410.638.3505 to see if they are available to come pick up the stray animal

Q: I am not willing (feel unsafe, unable to drive, etc.) to bring the animal to HSHC, can you come get it?
A: Unfortunately, we do not provide field services. We cannot pick up the animal. We suggest you call Animal Control at 410.638.3505 to ask for assistance. They may be able to provide transportation.

Q: I like the dog / cat and would like to keep it if no owner is found.
A: We still suggest you bring the animal to HSHC, as most pet owners will look here at the shelter for their lost pet. We would be happy to note your interest and give you first consideration to adopt this animal once the holding period is up.

Q: I’d rather keep the animal in my home, as I search for the owner and would simply like to file a found report.
A: You may do this if you choose and we appreciate you filing a found report, but please be advised that as a private individual, rather than the 3 or 4 day holding period to which HSHC must adhere, you are legally required to keep the animal for 30 days. You also must post signs and place ads in local newspapers. We will keep a found report on file and ask that if you locate the pet’s owners, you let us know.

Q: If I bring a found animal to HSHC, will I be required to pay a surrender fee?
A: If you have been caring for the animal for thirty days or more, you are considered to be that animal’s owner and will be required to help offset a fraction of the cost we incur by paying a surrender fee.

If you have been caring for the animal for less than 30 days, you will not be required to pay a surrender fee, but we ask that you give whatever donation you are able to help offset our cost to care for the animal and do our best to either reunite it with their owner, or find it a wonderful new home.

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Q: What should I do about nuisance animals?
A: In most cases nothing. Simply seeing animals, wild, feral or domestic does not always warrant action. If they are wild or feral, we do not suggest you try to capture or handle them and in the case of wild animals it is almost always illegal for you to do so.

  • Not all young, wildlife is orphaned. In most cases, mom and sometimes dad too is close by. If the baby animal is in no immediate danger, it is best to leave it where it is and check on it every 15 minutes to half hour, FROM A DISTANCE. What will likely happen is that you will see a parent come back and care for the baby.
  • If the animal is in distress, appears hurt or sick, or is acting oddly, call Animal Control at 410.638.3505.

Q: People in my neighborhood do not contain their pets and they wander into my yard. How do I keep other people’s pets off my property?
A: If you know where or to whom the animal belongs, simply talking with the pet owner is a good first step to resolving a problem.

  • If you have tried to no avail to speak with the pet owner, HSHC will gladly try to help by discussing the problem with the pet owner to bring about a humane resolution.

Q: I live on a farm and people from the development next door let their dogs run. They sometimes come onto my property and chase my livestock.
A: This is a serious issue and one where an ounce of prevention is truly the best rule. If you feel your livestock is in danger, please do not wait, call Animal Control at 410.638.3505.

  • To avoid the risk of future harm to your livestock, we also suggest speaking with the owner of the dog or with the homeowner’s association if you do not know where the dog belongs. HSHC will help you do this or act as mediator to resolve the problem

Q: There are so many cats in my neighborhood. They seem to come from the farm, empty field, neighborhood, etc. How do I keep them off my property?
A: Very often free roaming cats belong to your neighbors. Please address the problem with them to try to resolve the issue as compassionately as possible for all involved.

  • If you have tried this, or if you do not know to whom the cat belongs, HSHC would be happy to provide you with suggested deterrents and humane resolutions to the problem.
  • HSHC does not offer traps for rent, as we do not advocate trapping cats, except where an active TNR project is occurring. Very often trapped cats belong to someone. In some cases they may be strays, but most are not. Unfortunately, many pet owners do not begin missing or searching for their lost cats for many days. This may result in tragedy for both if the cat is trapped and brought to a shelter. Please seek compassionate alternatives to trapping.

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Q: Does HSHC provide a service so I can request the euthanasia of my own pet? If so, how much is this service and what do you need from me?
A: Yes, we do provide this service. We require that you provide us with proof of ownership for your pet, as we will not euthanize any pet that is not legally yours for the obvious reasons. The fee for this service is dependent on the animals weight as follows, effective October 1, 2006: $45 for animals under 25lbs, $65 for animals 26 to 50 lbs, $130 for animals 51 to 100 lbs, and $200 for animals over 101lbs.

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Q: I am having XYZ, problem with my pet. I don’t know what to do and I am thinking about surrendering him / her.
A: Most behavior problems can be solved simply and quickly with appropriate training. Even people who have had pets for many years can learn new techniques and work through problems with one of our professional trainers. Please give training a chance. Sign up for one of our low cost training classes today.

Q: I am at my wits end, I simply cannot deal with this problem, but want to do the right thing, what should I do?
A: You called the right place. Again, most behavior problems are simply and quickly resolved and with very specific work, even those seemingly hopeless, can end happily. We ask that you speak with one of our behavior experts. They will set up a one on one behavior consultation with you and your pet. They will work out a training plan, and provide you with the tools to handle the problem you and your pet are having. They are also available for follow up help in the future.

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Q: How do I get started with planning an estate gift for animals?
A: Effective estate planning starts with a good attorney. Developing a plan will ensure that your wish to make a difference for animals is met. A plan will also allow your family to avoid the delay, dissension and needless expense that often occurs when a loved one passes away without a will.

Q: Can an “average” person leave a legacy?
A: Definitely! Bequests are one of the simplest forms of planned giving, and are a way to perpetuate your lifetime commitment to animals. With a bequest, you can make a gift that you may not have afforded in cash during your lifetime. Most people leave an estate when they die, even though they may not have a great deal of wealth. It’s a wonderful way to make a lasting difference.

Q: Is it important to designate specific instructions in my will?
A: To ensure that your wishes are met, you should state your intentions in your will. Without a will, one loses control over belongings after death. Property and finances are settled according to the state’s decisions, despite the family’s wishes.

Q: Are there advantages for my heirs and me by making a bequest? If so, what are they?
A: Yes! Tax deductions are a real benefit.* Your attorney can guide you in selecting an estate gift that will maximize your tax benefits and may even be able to provide you with income during your lifetime.

Q: Can funds from a retirement plan or IRA be part of a bequest?
A: Yes, and the number of estates containing IRAs and retirement plan assets is growing. They are an attractive source of charitable bequests, because HSHC can receive the funds with no tax liability and therefore can apply 100% of those assets to help animals. By contrast, family members who inherit IRAs and retirement plan assets must pay income tax on them. By the time taxes are paid, some family members can receive as little as 15% of the retirement account.

Q: Is it possible to make a gift for a specified purpose?
A: Yes! The Humane Society of Harford County puts every gift to work for animals, but if you have a fondness for a particular program such as spay/neuter, adoption or education, we would be delighted to apply your gift to a specific purpose! We’d be happy to discuss your special wishes.

Q: I’d like my family name to be honored at the Humane Society of Harford County. How do I learn about naming opportunities?
The gift of an estate is treasured at HSHCS as a significant personal commitment to animals. It is our pleasure to ensure your wishes are met by offering an array of naming opportunities throughout our facilities. We are currently in the planning stages of developing naming opportunities for our new shelter that is scheduled to be built in between April 2014 and May 2015. Please contact our Executive Director at 410-836-1090 x 101 for more information.

Q: Should I tell the HSHC about my estate plans?
A: Absolutely! It is incredibly helpful to HSHC staff to be able to plan for the future of our lifesaving programs. If you have included us in your estate plans, please let us know! We’d love to be able to thank you during your lifetime.

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Q: Do you charge a fee for surrendering animals?
A: Yes, we do. The costs incurred to take care of a surrendered pet can be substantial depending on the animal and how long it remains in our care. Effective July 14, 2010 our Surrender Fee structure is as follows:

  • Dogs / Cats up-to-date on shots and altered: $45
  • Dogs / Cats not up-to-date on shots or not altered: $75
  • Dog / Cat Litters (Mom plus up to 3 kittens/puppies): $75 – Each add’l kitten/puppy: $5
  • Small Animals (Must be surrendered with cage, bedding, etc.): $25
  • Small Animal Litters (Mom plus litter) : $25
  • Barnyard Animals (Chickens, Roosters, Ducks, Geese): $10
  • Barnyard Animals (Goats, Sheep, Pigs): $50
  • Large Animals (Horses, Cows, Llamas, Etc): TBD

NOTE: Verification of vaccines must be present at the time of surrender in order for the discount to be honored.

Q: How do I surrender my pet?
A: You will need to call the Adoption’s Department (ext. 109 or 107) to schedule a surrender time, and you must be a Harford County resident.

  • You will be asked to verify that you are the owner of the pet and can do so by providing a veterinary record for the animal listing you as the owner. A license or other identifying materials can also be used.
  • If your pet is not friendly to people or other animals, or if you do not know how he /she will act, we request that you schedule a time to bring the pet to the Humane Society, so that we can accept it and process it in the safest manner possible for you, your pet, our visitors and our staff.
  • Regardless of how your pet comes to the shelter, we ask that you supply us with any and all veterinary information, including a copy of your pets most recent vet record and a spay or neuter certificate.

Q: Is that it, I drop off the animal and go?
A: No, not exactly. In order for us to learn as much as possible about your pet, so that we can give it every chance at adoption, we ask that you complete a surrender form ( for cats / for dogs) as well as a pet profile. These are available at the shelter and you may pick one up prior to bringing in your animal so that you can fill it out at home, saving you time and stress. To do this, we ask that you schedule a time to surrender your pet.

  • You will be required to pay a surrender fee. This is not a penalty, but a way to help offset the cost of the care your pet will receive while at the shelter. Ours fees make up a small fraction of our budget and only begin to cover the expense of caring for the unwanted pets in our community.
  • In Harford County you are prohibited from abandoning a pet. According to county code 64Q: 20 “No person shall abandon any animal on property within the boundaries of Harford County,” you may be prosecuted if we determine that a stray animal was actually owned or an owned animal was not surrendered through the appropriate channels.

Q: What happens if I surrender my pet but later decide I want it back?
A: HSHC handles each such request individually. We are here to help and believe that the best home for a pet is often the one that he / she already has.

  • In some cases we may offer help to resolve whatever issues caused you to bring the pet to HSHC in the first place.
  • In other cases we may offer to help find you a pet better matched to your lifestyle or that of your family.
  • In still other cases, we may deny your request altogether.
  • By surrendering your pet, you relinquish not just responsibility for, but ownership of the pet. Once a pet is surrendered, it is the property of HSHC and as such HSHC will make the determination as to when, where and how to safely place the pet into a loving home.

Q: May I call and check on a pet I surrendered?
A: While we would like to help you with this, we simply do not have the staff available to check on each pet we receive at a former owner’s request. We would encourage you to follow your former pet on our website, as you will see when the pet is adopted. This is information we are not able to give out personally.

Q: May I visit with the pet?
A: While in some cases we might ask that you not do this, depending on the situation, this could be difficult for both of you. One way to help pets just like yours is to volunteer your time and become a “dog walker” or “kitty cuddler”. Please visit our website for information on helping homeless pets in Harford County.

If you have ANY questions at all, please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail the Executive Director at 410-836-1090 x101 or mleavens@harfordshelter.org.

*No part of this information is intended as legal advice. Please consult with competent tax and legal professionals to determine the best giving strategies for your situation.

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