Charles Brown

Charles Brown


by Lisa Moody Breslin    photography by Walter P. Calahan

Charles Brown has worked in animal sheltering for almost 20 years, in myriad states, (most recently Tennessee). Originally from Pennsylvania, he has called Carroll County home since November 2014, when he eased into the position of Executive Director of the Carroll County Humane Society by working with the former director, Nicky Ratliff. Brown has a history degree from Youngstown State University in Ohio.

Who are your heroes in real life? Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut. Hemingway because he lived life without regret, and Vonnegut for just the opposite. Between the two of them, there is balance. I’ve always been an avid reader.

What is your most treasured possession? My sense of humor.

And how would you describe that humor? Sarcastic and dry.

Any pets? I have two dogs and a cat. Fay is a Pitbull and Cookie is a Jack Russell. Our cat is Oscar, and Oscar is an orange cat that we recently adopted from a foster family in Carroll County.

Favorite movie (right now)?  The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Favorite pet ever owned? Maggie, my Pitbull, who lived until she was 10. I loved her for her loyalty.

Favorite cause? Animal welfare – and it has been my favorite cause for a long time.

Where and when are you happiest? When I’m with my children: my eldest is Clarity Brown and she is 16; my youngest is Madi (short for Madeleine) and she is 10 years old; and my son, Max, who turned one in late June.

Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Tennessee and now Maryland – how and/or what inspired you to call Carroll County Humane Society home next? Probably the biggest influence is that I’m from Pittsburgh and I still have family there. Carroll County is reminiscent – well, it’s actually a nicer version – of where I grew up. I love the country environment and the fact that Baltimore and DC are so close. This is a perfect location. We are part of a good family community.

How did your work in all the other places best prepare you for your role here? Experience is definitely the best teacher. I’ve had a lot of diverse experience that helps. Every day I learn something new. I’ve learned that there are ways to consult with people when I’m handling animal control in a positive way; I’ve learned about animal rehabilitation, and so many other lessons from the various peoples and in the places I have worked.

List three adjectives that your previous employees would have used describe your management style? And now? Previous employees and employees now would hopefully say the same thing about my management style. I’m collaborative (I believe in a team atmosphere where everyone is invested in outcomes); I’m optimistic (Animal sheltering can be a depressing line of work, but optimism really helps); I’m also dedicated. We’re all invested in outcome – optimistic – animal sheltering can be depressing line of work

Was there a pivotal moment in your life that inspired you to get into this line of work? If yes, briefly discuss. There was not one pivotal moment, but when I was growing up, even as young kid, my grandfather, Jack Colley, was an avid hunter. He brought home more animals alive than dead: rabbits, squirrels, raccoons. A passion for animal welfare has always been instilled in me. I remember once he went deer hunting and found an injured crow – and that crow was our project for the next month or so.

Top three new ventures/programs unfolding at the Humane Society that you hope readers will go to the website to learn about? Our Foster Program – we are at the height of cat season and we are always looking for good fosters to take kittens. Our Volunteer Outreach Program and Cat Snip. We have $20,000 allocated (thanks to a donor) for a team of volunteers to gather farm cats for spaying and neutering. Carroll farmers are kind enough to feed cats that are often dumped on their property. We go to the farms, trap them and take them to a vet to have them spayed, neutered and vaccinated. Then we release the cats where they came from.

When is kitten season and what does that look like from a Humane Society perspective? Kitten season is from June until September or early October. There are blips up and down rather than a daily influx of kitten drop offs. But on a bad day, we might welcome 30 kittens. The fostering program has taken a bite out of that.

We have between 65 and 80 kittens fostered. We are also working really hard with other rescue organizations that are in better situations. A few weeks ago a partnering animal care coordinator picked up 50 kittens. We are doing an aggressive search for good quality rescue partners, no-kill places that we visit so we know we are sending kittens to a good place. Some of our partners work with PetSmart, and as many as 20 cats can be placed in one store. These partnerships are game changers.

What do you consider a weak moment in your professional life? I take animals in my charge seriously; every time there is not a positive outcome, then it is a weak moment.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? I like to think that is still to come.

What is your greatest fear? You are asking someone who has been told that he has an underdeveloped sense of fear. My fear? Sharknadoes.

What trait do you most dislike in others? Ignorance.

What is the trait you appreciate least about yourself? Ignorance.

In 20 years, what do you hope will be your greatest achievement? I would hope that in 20 years the county has reached zero pet overpopulation. There are communities that, through aggressive adoption, spaying and neutering and education, have achieved that. Carroll County should strive for that goal. Anything less would be a failure.