St. Mary's County's New Animal Shelter Opens September 12

Construction of the new animal shelter is due to be completed by July 2 and a September 12 opening date has been scheduled. Construction of the new animal shelter is due to be completed by July 2 and a September 12 opening date has been scheduled.

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (March 10, 2022)—The Commissioners of St. Mary's County just approved the employment contract for the manager of the soon-to-be-opened animal shelter this week, which is one of the most highly-anticipated public projects here.

Theresa Marlowe told the commissioners she was excited to be taking the position; she will be taking the next several months to prepare the facility for its eventual opening.

"Thank you for taking the job," said Commissioner President James "Randy" Guy. "We've worked many years to make this to get this done for our county.

"It's going to be a tremendous asset to our county."

Steve Walker, director of the Department of Emergency Services, which oversees the animal shelter, said the shelter should open in mid-September.

"I want a good six months of preparing before we open the animal shelter," Walker told The County Times. "We should be opening on Sept. 12, the week after Labor Day."

Marlowe will be tasked with formulating policies and procedures for the facility as well as hire staff and coordinate volunteer efforts.

"This is someone who will hit the ground running and do very well," Walker said of Marlowe.

Marlowe comes to the county from the City of New Carrollton's Police Department with experience writing and implementing grant programs and has successfully managed a kennel in Prince George's County.

Marlowe will assume responsibilities March 14.

"I am honored to be given the opportunity to oversee the brand new Animal Adoption and Resource Center, and I will work every day to ensure that St. Mary's County is the best place for animals… and for the people who love them," Marlowe said in a prepared statement.

Walker said the facility should be finished construction by July 2 with Marlow and the county's animal control division moving in by July 15.

The facility, located at 22975 FDR Blvd, California, is described as state-of-the-art for animal shelters at 13,000 square feet in size, costing $6.8 million.

"It's beautiful," Walker said of the new shelter, which will include space for mostly dogs and cats but will include a barn for farm animals to be taken in for adoption as well.

The sheriff office's K-9 unit will also have a special, secured space at the animal shelter that will not be open to the public, but the dogs with the sheriff's office will have their own exercise yard on the shelter grounds.

Exercise grounds will also be available for the animal residing at the shelter, Walker said.

"We want to adopt animals out," said Walker. "We want it to be very friendly for the community." The county chose placing the shelter on county-owned property in a central location in California so it would be within close distance of both residential and commercial activities.

The opening of the new shelter means the county will be ending its financial relationship with the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, which has operated for nearly 50 years being funded by St. Mary's, Calvert and Charles counties.

The county will save about $500,000 a year in cutting financial ties with the tri-county shelter, Walker said.

Calvert County was the first to break away from the tri-county facility several years ago, constructing the Linda L. Kelley Animal Shelter in Prince Frederick, while Charles County has also planned to go to its own shelter operations.

The St. Mary's shelter will be a low-kill/no-kill shelter, Walker said, which means that only dangerous or injured animals beyond help would be euthanized.

Walker said 90 percent of animals who take up residence at the shelter will be set up for adoption.

Kathleen Werner, president of the St. Mary's Animal Welfare League (SMAWL), said her organization never has a shortage of pets to put up for adoption—mostly cats and kittens—and that gives an example of just how important a new animal shelter in the county will be.

Not only will it keep money to support adoptable animals in the county instead of spending it in Hughesville, but it will make adopting pets easier.

Werner hoped this meant more pets would actually be paired with loving owners.

"It's absolutely going to be a positive thing," Werner said. "It's something we need in the county.

"We try to save as many as we can."

SMAWL tries to help pet owners get their animals spayed or neutered, Werner said, which she said is one of the main pitfalls facing the county in controlling the sheer number of animals that need to be adopted.

"We try to be very proactive about that," Werner said. "But, people don't spay and neuter their pets and it gets out of control."

The time was almost upon SMAWL volunteers when their services would once again be needed, said Werner.

"Kitten season is getting closer so we'll have plenty of them," Werner said.


St. Marys Co. Animal Shelter Study RFA #1715, June 30, 2017

St. Mary's County Animal Shelter Planning Commission Report, Sept. 28, 2020

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