Several young girls attended a public meeting recently to express their concern about the treatment of animals in Cecil County, Maryland. Adults responded to their participation by shouting racial insults at the girls.
The girls were members of the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Troop 176. During the public meeting, they expressed their concerns about the treatment of animals who were housed at the county’s animal control facility an issue that was covered by local media.
“I felt really bad for the animals because that wasn’t a really good home for them,” said Amaya Spurlock, 10.
“They were saying, Go back to Baltimore, where you belong,’ and they started pointing out me and my sisters,” said Arianna Spurlock, who is 13. None of the girls live in Baltimore, which is more than an hour away from Cecil County.
The girls also allege they were called “animals.”
The aftermath of the incident was captured on video, with the co-leader of the troop telling a group of adults, “You guys, no racial comments, okay?”
The racial comments were allegedly made by “supporters” of the county’s animal control vendor, A Buddy For Life. The company denies any of their employees were responsible.
But in an interview with ThinkProgress, Scout Leader Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich said that the comments were made by A Buddy For Life volunteers. (The facility has few paid employees.) Mitchell-Werbrich said that she went with a group of parents to file a police report but were told it was not possible because the individuals did not “use the n-word.”
During the meeting, the co-director of A Buddy For Life asked the commission to ignore the Girl Scout’s comments.
The county pays A Buddy For Life’ $60,000 a month to manage their animal control facilities. The Cecil Times reported that a surprise visit to the facility “found unremoved feces, odors and many dogs with serious mange’ and other skin conditions.” There were also allegations of “overstaffing at the Buddy operation at taxpayer expense.” The company has been repeatedly fined for violating state and federal law.
Mitchell-Werbrich explained that the dispute started in October when she called the Buddy For Life facility about two dogs at a residence who appeared emaciated and mistreated. Despite repeated inquiries, Mitchell-Werbrich said the company refused to address the situation. On certain occasions, someone at the facility would tell Mitchell-Werbrich that they had addressed the abuse of the dogs but it turned out not to be true. She came to believe that the company was “untruthful.” She shared her experience with the girls in her troop, which prompted their interest.
Despite their large monthly budget, A Buddy For Life spent just $877 over a three-month period for food.
Mitchell-Werbrich said she and the girls’ parents requested a meeting with Cecil County Executive Tari Moore to discuss the incident but she did not respond to their request.