Consultant recommends private animal shelter

A consultant to the King County Council recommended Monday that a private agency should take over the county’s Animal Care and Control services.

  • Friday, May 30, 2008 2:55pm
  • News

A consultant to the King County Council recommended Monday that a private agency should take over the county’s Animal Care and Control services.

“While I have historically been concerned about the practice of private agencies performing animal-control work, there does not appear to be another reasonable alternative in order to solve the endemic problems of King County Animal Care and Control,” consultant Nathan Winograd wrote in his 147-page report, released in its entirety Monday.

Winograd, who runs the No Kill Advocacy Center in San Clemente, Calif., gave a preliminary report March 17 to the council. He told the council then he had doubts whether the county’s animal-control division could create a model no-kill program because it couldn’t even properly feed the dogs and cats it now houses at its shelters in Kent and Bellevue. Kent’s shelter, the larger of the two, came under considerable fire from Winograd.

Winograd’s full report criticized County Executive Ron Sims, whose office oversees the Animal Care and Control division. Sims has been King County executive since 1997.

“The county executive has failed for over a decade to take the necessary measures to reform the shelter despite numerous reports, recommendations and credible complaints over the inhumane and inadequate condition of the shelter,” Winograd wrote.

Sims and his staff, including Al Dams, acting manager of King County Animal Care and Control who oversees the Kent and Bellevue shelters, were working this week on a written response to Winograd’s report and were unavailable for comment for this story.

“We’re still putting together our response,” said Natasha Jones, communications manager for the executive branch, in a phone interview Wednesday. “For a report of that magnitude, it will be a detailed response.”

Jones said she expected the report from the executive branch to be released Friday to the media, which was after the Reporter’s deadline for this issue.

But Dams earlier denied Winograd’s allegations that animals at the Kent shelter went without food and water for more than a day.

“I’ve found looking at documents (working checklists) and interviewing officers that evidence does not exist to support that allegation,” Dams said in an interview after the March 17 meeting.

The council will decide whether to continue to operate animal-shelter services after it conducts a public hearing April 14 in Burien on the issue of its shelter programs.

“This written report identifies serious issues involving shelter management and leadership that must be addressed,” said Council Chairwoman Julia Patterson in a written response to Winograd’s full report. “We look forward to discussing these findings with the county executive so we can move forward together to ensure the humane treatment of animals in the custody of King County Animal Care and Control.”

Patterson represents District 5, which includes Renton and Kent.The council hired Winograd to determine whether the county has the leadership, human resources and facilities to operate a model no-kill program.

In Winograd’s full report, he wrote the problems include:

• Dismal shelter conditions and animal-care protocols, resulting in lack of humane care that borders on animal neglect.

• Continual outbreaks of disease that indicate lack of proper cleaning and vaccination protocols.

• Animals allowed to suffer for lack of medical treatment.

• Missed opportunities to save the lives of animals or properly respond to calls for service.

Winograd wrote that previous reviews of the county’s animal-care division had similar findings and still nothing has been done to resolve the problems.

“There is no reason to expect that this agency can or will proceed in compliance with council policy demands when they cannot even ensure that animals in their care are provided with food and water,” Winograd wrote in the full report.

King County Animal Care and Control has been under close watch by the council since a citizens advisory committee, formed in May 2007 by the council to investigate the shelter, issued a damning report in September 2007 that called for improvements at the shelter from its current “deplorable” condition.

The council funded only the most critical upgrades (budgeted at $130,000) to the Kent Animal Shelter for this year until it decides later this spring whether the county should stay in the animal-shelter business, and if so, what changes should be made.

King County provides animal control and shelter services to unincorporated areas and 37 cities within the county. Renton provides its own animal-control services.

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.

A consultant to the King County Council recommended Monday that a private agency should take over the county’s Animal Care and Control services.

“While I have historically been concerned about the practice of private agencies performing animal-control work, there does not appear to be another reasonable alternative in order to solve the endemic problems of King County Animal Care and Control,” consultant Nathan Winograd wrote in his 147-page report, released in its entirety Monday.

Winograd, who runs the No Kill Advocacy Center in San Clemente, Calif., gave a preliminary report March 17 to the council. He told the council then he had doubts whether the county’s animal-control division could create a model no-kill program because it couldn’t even properly feed the dogs and cats it now houses at its shelters in Kent and Bellevue. Kent’s shelter, the larger of the two, came under considerable fire from Winograd.

Winograd’s full report criticized County Executive Ron Sims, whose office oversees the Animal Care and Control division. Sims has been King County executive since 1997.

“The county executive has failed for over a decade to take the necessary measures to reform the shelter despite numerous reports, recommendations and credible complaints over the inhumane and inadequate condition of the shelter,” Winograd wrote.

Sims and his staff, including Al Dams, acting manager of King County Animal Care and Control who oversees the Kent and Bellevue shelters, were working this week on a written response to Winograd’s report and were unavailable for comment for this story.

“We’re still putting together our response,” said Natasha Jones, communications manager for the executive branch, in a phone interview Wednesday. “For a report of that magnitude, it will be a detailed response.”

Jones said she expected the report from the executive branch to be released Friday to the media, which was after the Reporter’s deadline for this issue.

But Dams earlier denied Winograd’s allegations that animals at the Kent shelter went without food and water for more than a day.

“I’ve found looking at documents (working checklists) and interviewing officers that evidence does not exist to support that allegation,” Dams said in an interview after the March 17 meeting.

The council will decide whether to continue to operate animal-shelter services after it conducts a public hearing April 14 in Burien on the issue of its shelter programs.

“This written report identifies serious issues involving shelter management and leadership that must be addressed,” said Council Chairwoman Julia Patterson in a written response to Winograd’s full report. “We look forward to discussing these findings with the county executive so we can move forward together to ensure the humane treatment of animals in the custody of King County Animal Care and Control.”

Patterson represents District 5, which includes Renton and Kent.The council hired Winograd to determine whether the county has the leadership, human resources and facilities to operate a model no-kill program.

In Winograd’s full report, he wrote the problems include:

• Dismal shelter conditions and animal-care protocols, resulting in lack of humane care that borders on animal neglect.

• Continual outbreaks of disease that indicate lack of proper cleaning and vaccination protocols.

• Animals allowed to suffer for lack of medical treatment.

• Missed opportunities to save the lives of animals or properly respond to calls for service.

Winograd wrote that previous reviews of the county’s animal-care division had similar findings and still nothing has been done to resolve the problems.

“There is no reason to expect that this agency can or will proceed in compliance with council policy demands when they cannot even ensure that animals in their care are provided with food and water,” Winograd wrote in the full report.

King County Animal Care and Control has been under close watch by the council since a citizens advisory committee, formed in May 2007 by the council to investigate the shelter, issued a damning report in September 2007 that called for improvements at the shelter from its current “deplorable” condition.

The council funded only the most critical upgrades (budgeted at $130,000) to the Kent Animal Shelter for this year until it decides later this spring whether the county should stay in the animal-shelter business, and if so, what changes should be made.

King County provides animal control and shelter services to unincorporated areas and 37 cities within the county. Renton provides its own animal-control services.

Contact Steve Hunter at 253-872-6600, ext. 5052 or shunter@reporternewspapers.com.

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