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What if nobody will run King Co. animal shelters?

Discussion in 'Pet News' started by testmg80, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. testmg80

    testmg80 PetForums VIP

    Jul 29, 2008
    Likes Received:
    Another victim of the recesssion here in the States...

    As he searches for ways to cut $56 million from King County's budget next year, Executive Kurt Triplett is considering eliminating all spending on animal control.

    He's hopeful a private agency or another government will step up to run the county's animal shelters in Bellevue and Kent. But a logical candidate, the Seattle Humane Society, says it can't and won't do it.

    Brenda Barnette, SHS chief executive officer, said the county asked her agency last year what it would cost them to run the county animal control operations.

    "We told them it would cost at least $5 million a year," Barnett said. "And there'd have to be some facilities upgrades."

    Ultimately the county opted to spend about $1 million on upgrades and keep running the shelters itself. Barnett says there's no way her agency could take over the county operation now without additional money, which almost certainly won't come from the county considering its financial problems.

    "We're a private charity, there's no way we can absorb something that could cost $5 million a year and take care of an additional 10,000 animals a year," Barnet said. "We just couldn't do it."

    The county's administration of animal shelters in Bellevue and Kent was severely criticized in a March 2008 report from a former director of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That report, commissioned by the King County Council, said cats and dogs were kept in cages in squalid conditions without food or water.

    Some councilmember's called for the county to close the shelters run by King County Animal Care and Control and let an outside group handle the work.

    Now that the county must deal with a $56 million operating budget deficit for next year Triplett is proposing 10 percent reductions to executive and County Council agencies and countywide spending reductions elsewhere. On Thursday he said that could include whacking money for the 39 parks in unincorporated King County and funding for animal control.

    But Claire Davis, a co-chair of the advocacy group KCACC Exposed and a frequent Triplett critic, said the county can't simply stop paying for animal control.

    "It's irresponsible, dangerous and illegal," she said.

    The county has a statutory responsibility to provide animal care and control services for unincorporated areas of the county, she said. And though it could have a private group or another government pick up those services, it has a moral responsibility to give those municipalities enough notice to arrange for responsible animal control to keep their citizens safe, and humane sheltering to care for these animals. It can't be done overnight."

    She agreed with Barnett that "nobody is going to do this for free."

    Davis said the county should have begun transferring animal control to the Seattle Humane Society last year, but former Executive Ron Sims and Triplett dropped the ball.

    Triplett, who must present a 2010 budget to the County Council for consideration next month, said he'll have more details about proposed cuts in the coming weeks. But he said the county's dismal financial situation is leaving it with unattractive options.

    "I don't think there's any cut that anyone will find to be acceptable," he said Thursday. "These are all really challenging and difficult cuts."

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