November 9, 2020
Deborah K Clatterbuck Speaks for the Animals
On Saturday, November 7, Deborah Clatterbuck was honored with a permanent plaque at the HART Animal Center in celebration of the animals she saved in Garrett County. If you were to ask Deb why she chose this path, she would tell you animal rescue is not a career. It is a way of life. In rescuing animals, people lose their minds but find their souls. Deb has been an animal rescuer since she was a child when she and her dad found an orphaned fawn. The fawn lived and was followed by hundreds of other animals, rescued, healed, and released or adopted by Deb. The plaque is symbolic of her dedication to the animals and reads, “In honor of Deb Clatterbuck. She always answered our call for help without hesitation. From all the animals you have helped.”
Deb was born in Garrett County, where her grandfather had a 50-acre farm and raised beef cattle. When hearing her describe her childhood, it is not hard to envision the acres of farmland, studded with hundreds of farm animals and children playing. Her father Bill Clatterbuck started the Deer Park Fire Department and was the Chief Dispatcher for the B&O Railroad, Western Maryland Office when trains were an essential means of transportation.
In 2004, Deb joined the Garrett County Humane Society, founded by Bernadine Friend. At that time, Deb’s late sister, Denise (Dee Dee), was the Animal Control Officer. One of the most egregious animal abuse cases was a local farm where horses, cattle, and goats had died of starvation and other causes. The complaint that brought Dee Dee and Deb to the farm was – a neighbor who told the Humane Society that 17 piles of animal carcasses were being rolled underground with a bulldozer. Even now, many years later, Deb’s voice catches when she retells that one of the piles of carcasses contained 48 “mini” horses of a total of 50, with only two surviving. The magnitude of the animal abuse brought the Humane Society of the United States, who sent their forensic specialist from Florida to determine the specific causes of death of four of the animals from one of the piles. The few animals that were still alive were taken by Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Lisbon, MD.
She estimates that she has rescued a few thousand animals, and has fought to have them treated compassionately – even by putting herself in danger. One of the times when others suspected that somebody targeted her was when she lost her beloved white 204-lb Great Dane (Cas) to a hit-and-run driver who left the road suddenly to fatally hit Cas in Deb’s driveway. Despite the loss of her sister Dee Dee in March 2011 and Cas in March 2013, Deb continues to fight for the dogs, the cats, the porcupines, the goats, the sheep, the horses, the cows…
Now, Deb is struggling for her life as she is in remission from two types of cancer. And, yet, she says, “I always go for what the animals need… I speak for the animals.” Deb continues her work with the Garrett County Humane Society as their Animal Control Officer. She still receives numerous calls daily and assists county residents with everything from “How do I stop my dog from barking all night,” and “come quick my dog has a face full of porcupine quills,” to “my animal is really sick. can you help me?”
The animals never forget Deb either. “It’s funny. I see dogs that I rescued five years ago. And they remember me! Animals never forget,” says Deb.
The plaque honoring Deb and her dedication to the animals is on permanent display in “Hazel’s Garden,” at the entrance to the HART Center.
For additional information on HART, the HART Animal Center, or any of its programs, or to donate, visit the HART website at www.hartforanimals.org or become part of the HART for Animals community on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HARTforAnimals.