BALTIMORE (AP) — A commission says in an addendum to its annual report that Baltimore County Animal Services manipulates statistics to make it appear that live release numbers were higher than their actual figures.

Commission Chairwoman Deborah Stone Hess tells news outlets that employees were told to pressure owners surrendering animals at the shelter to sign a form requesting that they be euthanize. When an animal is killed at an owner’s request, it doesn’t count against the shelter’s official release rate.

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In 2015, about 36 percent of dogs euthanized and 7 percent of cats euthanized were at owners’ requests. By 2018, 72 percent of dogs euthanized at the shelter were killed at an owner’s request.

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Spokeswoman Stacie Burgess says the increase in owner-requested euthanasia is attributable to the increase in resources available to pet owners.

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