BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County’s Animal Services is defending its programs after a report called into question how the division handles animal abuse investigations.

The agency responded to the allegations saying they simply are not accurate. They invite Council County auditors to come in and conduct an independent review.

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Director Dr. Melissa Jones said she welcomes a review of their programs.

“My question is, how could anyone question that and think that we would willing allow animals in our community to suffer when we work so hard to protect them?” Jones said.

The Animal Services Advisory Commission is raising those questions, they are designed to advise the County Council on animal care.

Members of an advisory commission working with Baltimore County Animal Services claim that things are not what they seem there, where they have been working with the agency for the past two years.

They are calling for an independent investigation of the agency.

“We thought everything was great,” said Deborah Stone Hess, chair of the commission.

Report Alleges Failures Of Baltimore County Animal Services Handling Neglect, Abuse Cases

Members applauded and wrote great reviews of some of the strides the BCAS has made including their new shelter and spay and neuter program.

But Hess claims there has been some deception behind it all, which came to light at the end of last year with the death of Oscar the Dog.

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The commission launched an eight-month investigation into BCAS, after pictures surfaced of a dog named Oscar, left to die in Arbutus in sub-freezing temperatures last New Year’s Eve.

Records later showed that witnesses had called animal services, but no officer responded.

“We immediately reached out to the county administrative officer and said, we need a meeting. We need to know what happened. We need to understand it so we can explain it to our commission members. And, he said, there will be no meeting.” said Deborah Stone Hess with the advisory committee.

Now they’re asking for more than a meeting, they are requesting an independent investigation, coming on the heels of a review done just months ago by Team Shelter USA, an animal shelter consultant.

“The county animal services just underwent an independent review earlier this year, that found that our program is progressive and innovative and should be considered a model for other municipal shelters,” said Ellen Kobler, Baltimore County Deputy Communications Director.

Dr. Jones admits this was not always the case.

She said she fears the claims in the report will destroy programs she has spent years improving in order to get more animals out of the shelter alive.

“From where we were five years ago, I would have said, absolutely. This place needed an overhaul. We needed veterinarians. We need people to get the animals the help we needed. We have that support now,”

While Baltimore County is willing to do an audit by the County Auditor the Animal Services Advisory Commission is demanding an independent audit and investigation, saying the county should not investigate itself.

The advisory commission report summary is posted here: Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission

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