SPCA of Anne Arundel County

A group of concerned citizens, led by Samuel Garner, founded the SPCA of Anne Arundel County in 1920. As first president, Garner contributed $8,000 to its endowment fund.

Modeled after the "animal cops" of the SPCA in New York, the Society struggled valiantly against the inability of authorities to enforce a Maryland state dog law requiring all dogs to be licensed. The law was written to protect poultry and livestock from damage by identifying marauding dogs so their owners could pay compensation.

The Society acted as animal control for the largely undeveloped county by enforcing licensing laws and collecting and disposing of dead dogs. It was a formidable task. Then in 1943, the legendary Albert MacCarthy became president.

A Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve and a successful businessman who had been involved in the city's civic affairs, MacCarthy and his wife were animal lovers and humanitarians.

Considered the "father" of the Society, MacCarthy purchased eight acres on Bay Ridge Avenue, built the first animal shelter, and worked tirelessly to educate the public about the benefits of Rabies shots, responsible pet ownership, licensing, vaccinations, obedience training, and the prevention of unwanted animal reproduction. Upon his death in 1956 at the age of 80, MacCarthy named the SPCA as beneficiary of an irrevocable trust. Income from that trust has saved the Society from extinction.

Following a decline in the SPCA, William McDowell established a Board of Directors that revitalized the Society in the 1960s. One of the important contributions during his tenure as president was the low-cost spay/neuter clinic built and equipped by board member Margaret S. Howard, her outright gift to the Society.

The Society published their first newsletter in the 1970s and put into effect a mandatory spay/neuter policy: "No animal would be adopted out unless it was spayed or neutered." Supporters of this policy include the Capital newspaper that has been running photos of adoptable animals at no cost to the Society since 1975.

Today the Society functions under the leadership of President Fred Graul and a 15-member Board of Directors. Executive Director Susan Beatty supervises daily operations, thirty full- and part-time staff, and 150 volunteers who perform a variety of services, including grooming the animals, walking the dogs, and socializing the cats.

Beatty has been with the SPCA for nine years, five as Director of Operations; last year she took over as Executive Director. Beatty has a degree in American Studies from the University of Maryland and years of experience with domestic animals. Dogs are a family hobby for Beatty, She was three when the family got a Dalmation and her mother signed up for obedience training. Her parents became interested in dog training and showing as a hobby and soon were active in Dog Obedience School as instructors. Her father was a Training Director of the Canine Training Association (CTA), and an American Kennel Club Obedience Judge. Currently, the Society offers obedience classes through CTA: 10-week classes in basic obedience are held on Thursdays at 7:00 or 8:00 for a fee of $60.

Having grown up with purebreds, Beatty appreciates their uniqueness. Today her family has two cats and four dogs. Son Paul, 14, goes to Key; daughter Julia, 13, goes to Central Middle. Husband Charley, computer specialist and SPCA volunteer, maintains the Society website. Anne Handel is a volunteer and events coordinator who takes pictures and updates the website. In her nine years with the Society, Beatty has seen animal adoptions increase to twice the average.

Society support comes from grants, bequests, public donations, and fundraisers, the largest of which is the Walk for the Animals, a partnership for animal welfare. The 15th Annual Walk will be held Sunday, May 15, at Quiet Waters Park, from 8:00 until Noon. More than 100 volunteers will be organizing the event. There will be about 1800 walkers with pledge sheets for courses of one, two, or five miles following markers and check points in the park. There will be water and fruit for walkers and dogs. Prizes of bandanas and T-shirts will be based on amounts collected. About 800 dogs will be walking, also some cats, ferrets and rabbits. Vendors and exhibits will feature guiding eyes for the blind, rescue groups of cocker spaniels, pure bred Labs and Golden Retrievers.

Other Maryland groups will include vendors with natural dog biscuits and custom leashes, and SPCA merchandise.

If you haven't been there yet, drive back into the Society property; the Mary E. Parker shelter, built in 1987, is on the left. Directly ahead is the original red brick shelter, now the administration building. Parked nearby, if it is not traveling, is the 32' mobile unit, aptly named Wagon Tails Adoption Unit. Donated in 2003, the unit is used to showcase adoptable pets. On most weekends it is at community events, or in shopping centers near PetSmart Stores in Annapolis, Glen Burnie, Arundel Mills, and the Village at Waugh Chapel.

The Society property is now 11.75 acres, a portion of which is a nature trail built in the early 1990s by Board members.

There is no national office of the SPCA. While each facility is an independent entity, private, and non-profit, there is a singular mission: "Humane education of the public, a monthly spay/neuter clinic, a haven for the unwanted and a place to adopt a loving companion animal are hallmarks of this great institution and all who are associated with it; staff, directors, volunteers can be justly proud of their relationship."

They are proud of their adoption program, a supportive process for people who need to place their animals. In placing the animals, they help people select the right pet by considering lifestyles and history of ownership. They consider landlords by not recommending puppies or hounds for apartment dwellers. In promoting community harmony, they may verify some applications through landlords. Most of all, they want their animals to be in a stable environment. In January they placed 190 animals - first spayed or neutered and all dogs tested for worms. These included four parakeets, various mice, gerbils and rabbits, 80 cats, 55 dogs, and three guinea pigs.

Come and visit your local SPCA. You will find a welcoming staff in a well-kept facility with adoptable animals with wonderful dispositions. They need loving homes. And new ones arrive every day. Ask about their foster program.

For information call 410-268-4388, X 121, or visit their website for updates: www.aacspca.org.


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