Executive to be given until June 30 to finish comprehensive regional animal services plan
StoryMembers of the Metropolitan King County Council today said they will extend the January 31 deadline that directed the County to end the provision of animal sheltering services – a move that would give the new County Executive more time to put a comprehensive regional animal services plan in place.
“The county may need more time to transition animals in keeping with our goals of a humane sheltering system with high adoption rates and low euthanasia rates,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson.
“The Council remains committed to reform and moving to a new, sustainable model for animal services,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson. “The additional time allows us to move forward thoughtfully, in a way that makes sense for the County and cities, and in the best interests of the animals in our care.”
“It is important that we handle this situation right, not necessarily right now,” said Council Vice Chair Jane Hague. “By giving Executive Constantine more time to make this transition, we are doing what is in the best interest of the animals and the organizations involved.”
Last November, the Council adopted legislation calling for the end of County animal sheltering services at the Kent and Bellevue centers by January 31, 2010, and requiring establishment of full cost recovery contracts with cities for the provision of animal control services by June 30, 2010. The Council took that action in the wake of four reports—three independent reviews and an audit conducted by the King County Auditor—that showed a persistent pattern of problems in the leadership, organization, and operation of King County Animal Care and Control.
Since his election, new County Executive Dow Constantine has been working with cities that contract with King County for animal control services and private animal rescue organizations on a new and comprehensive animal services plan for the region that includes sheltering, control, and licensing services.
“We’re doing something new, and that is to get everyone on the same page for the welfare of animals and protection of public health and safety,” said Executive Constantine. “I appreciate the Council’s openness to our new approach and we are hard at work to develop a new regional model.”
The Executive has asked the Council to extend the deadline it set for closing the County’s shelters until June 30, to allow for sufficient time for work with the cities. As the local service provider to the unincorporated areas, King County will continue to fund animal services to those areas.
“It is important to work with all our partners in this effort to find a comprehensive animal services plan for the region and I am supportive of the Executive in his attempt to do this,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett.
“All of us on the Council want to make sure that the animals who need sheltering are treated humanely and have an opportunity to live in a caring home,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “For that reason I fully support the extension of the deadline to close the King County Shelter so that we may take the time needed to work with the cities and animal sheltering organizations to make sure that the decisions we make will benefit the people and the pets of King County and create a model that would help other counties.”
“I am encouraged about the opportunity to improve the care of animals and provide for full-cost recovery through a comprehensive public-private partnership, although it will take a little more time for this new structure to coalesce,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “This process meets the needs of our cities, residents in the unincorporated areas, and pets in need of a home.”