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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


King County Executive proposes to transition county out of Animal Care and Control by June 30, 2010

Summary

King County Executive Kurt Triplett today announced that he is providing six months of funding in his 2010 budget to help the county begin a regional process for transitioning out of animal care and sheltering services. He has assigned staff to work with stakeholders to develop a new model for regional animal services that is humane and financially sustainable.

Story

petspress1King County Executive Kurt Triplett today announced that he is providing six months of funding in his 2010 budget to help the county begin a regional process for transitioning out of animal care and sheltering services. He has assigned staff to work with stakeholders to develop a new model for regional animal services that is humane and financially sustainable.

Under the proposal, Executive Triplett would reserve $3 million in one time money in the 2010 budget to help transition both animal control and sheltering services to new contractors over the next nine months, starting today.

Through a collaborative process with labor, regional cities that contract with the county for animal service, nonprofit groups and volunteers, the hope is that a new contractor and operational entity will be developed that can better serve the cities, residents and the animals, given the current fiscal and political environment.

“This is a transition or evolution for regional animal care and control, not an ending,” said Executive Triplett. “We must phase out the county’s general fund support for animal control and sheltering because although protecting animals and protecting people from animals are both important, providing animal care and control as a contractor for 32 cities is neither a required nor a core business of King County, nor is it self-sufficient.”

Currently, providing animal care and control services requires $1.5 million of the county’s general fund dollars every year above the revenues collected from city contracts for those services.

“In an era where we are mothballing parks, eliminating human services programs and closing health clinics, we can no longer afford to subsidize animal care and control,” said Triplett.

Instead, the executive budget provides the one-time subsidy to begin the transition process while prioritizing other funding for regional public health services and critical public safety agencies such as the Sheriff, the Prosecutor, the jail, the Superior and District Courts and Public Defense and better aligning King County services to existing King County funding authorities and state mandates.

Discussions are already underway with the 32 cities that contract with King County for animal-related services – a process being accelerated because of the flood threat to the current shelter from the Howard Hanson Dam. As a result, the county’s Kent animal shelter is already planning to move to a new location by November 1st of this year.

In making the announcement, Executive Triplett praised the work of King County’s elected leaders and dedicated employees on behalf of both the animals and people of King County.

“King County’s leaders have invested millions over the past several years and no one has tried harder or invested more than the amazing men and women who staff King County Animal Care and Control,” said Triplett. “I want to thank them and the thousands of volunteers who have committed so much of themselves to take care of the lost and abandoned animals of the region. I’m hopeful that they will continue to be part of the process to create a new future for our region’s animals.”

Several County Councilmembers have taken a proactive role in providing oversight, guidance and recommendations on the shelter and its operations. Two of them joined the executive for his announcement today.

“We are working with our regional partners, the cities, King County Animal Care and Control and community  animal welfare agencies to come up with a solution that will ensure high-quality service for the animals and citizens of King County,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “We hope to be able to implement both short-term and long-term solutions.”

"Almost a year ago, I called for King County to get out of the animal shelter business,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “The time for finger pointing is over. It's time to move forward to craft an animal control system that is sustainable into the future. Executive Triplett's plan is what's best for the animals and for the taxpayers."

Triplett stressed that this transition must not leave the region without a shelter or animal control because both services affect budgets and the quality of life in cities countywide. In addition, the major infrastructure, staffing and operational changes that must be agreed upon to do this successfully as a region will take time to be agreed upon and put in place.

However, if active discussions and planning start now, the executive’s proposed transitional funding provides nine months to work with labor, shelter management, staff and volunteers, community animal welfare partners and the cities to craft a sustainable animal care and control model by June 30, 2010, when funding and King County’s current role in the shelter ends.

If the Council approves the proposal in its budget, King County will be no longer provide animal care and control services as of June 30, 2010.  But the hope is that a new, better, entity will be in place to take over.



King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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