Five years ago, the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center opened its doors to local pet lovers. A multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art facility 20 years in the making, MCASAC has become the largest open-admission animal shelter in the county, operated by the animal services division of the police department.
Those who step inside hoping to bring home a new best friend and family member will see 50,000 square feet of space dedicated to helping up to 6,000 animals each year. More than 80 adoptable dogs can be housed at one time, along with upwards of 150 cats, with room leftover for small mammals, birds, reptiles and more.
What MCASAC visitors don’t see, however, is the group of people who worked vigorously to open those doors in the first place, and it’s their commitment to helping animals that keeps the place running behind the scenes.
Montgomery County Partners for Animal Well-Being is the fundraising nonprofit organization that incorporated in 2010 with the sole mission of creating a safe place for animals.
“We really fought for it,” says Allan Cohen, one of the founding board members. “The problem is, even though we’re in their county, folks don’t realize we’re here.
"Most people look for something with the name 'Humane Society' on it, but MCPAW is not a humane society, because unlike humane societies, we don’t own and operate the shelter. It’s done by the county,” explains Donald Hoffman, another MCPAW board member. “That’s why it’s called Montgomery County Partners for Animal Well-Being. We’re out there facilitating fundraising activities to enable the shelter to be more successful in taking care of animals and ensuring they have a good place to live until they find a home.”
MCPAW’s slogan reads, “Helping pets feel at home ... until they find yours.”
MCPAW strives to provide hope for abused, abandoned and lost pets in Montgomery County.
“We hope many people will see the need to come over and ask about adopting these wonderful animals that need so much love and compassion and are willing to give so much love and compassion back,” Donald says.
The organization's biggest roadblock is visibility, but one goal for the second annual MCPAW Party on Oct. 13 is to increase its community presence. The black-tie-optional event serves as an opportunity for all Montgomery County pet owners and lovers to come together and celebrate their passion for animals.
“What we’re really looking to do is establish an evening function that will enable us to share with everybody who we are, what we’re doing, give them a quick update, recognize some individuals, and then give people a chance to talk to each other and tell their stories,” Donald says.
Of course, each member of MCPAW has their own special reason for getting involved.
“Most of us have our own love and passion for animals,” Donald says. “I’m personally involved because I have four rescue pit bulls that I love dearly like my own children. And I see that there’s breed discrimination, but all dogs, all cats, all animals deserve an even break. They all deserve the opportunity to be treated with what we would consider dignity and respect. When we say we’re for animals, we really mean for all animals.”
The Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center is at 7315 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood. To learn more about MCPAW, visit MCPAW.org.