Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Sunday, March 23, 2008

King County, WA Shelter Accused of Neglect

We live in Seattle which is part of King County, WA. For a long time, we've been aware of the rumors that King County animal shelters were poorly run. A very sad testimonial for 1) a pretty rich county and 2) a progressive County Executive named Ron Sims. Well, since September 2007, actual reports are showing that the rumors are quite true. And the King County Council needs to enact some change.

In September 2007, a citizens advisory committee thoroughly reviewed the county's animal shelter program. (Thanks to Councilmember Julia Patterson who spearheaded this effort.) They said that conditions were "deplorable," pointing to poor sanitation, outbreaks of canine parvovirus and feline upper-respiratory infections, a veterinary staff too small to do its job well, failure to vaccinate some animals and no place to isolate sick dogs.

An outside consultant's report was issued this past week. It gets worse!

Cats and dogs are locked in filthy cages without food or water in King County animal shelters, and nothing short of a thorough overhaul of the county's apathetic animal-control operation can turn it into the model program the County Council wants it to be, a consultant told the council Monday.

Other findings....

• Logs in the cat infirmary and other areas wrongly indicated that cages had been cleaned and animals had been given food and water.

• Some cats have been cleared for adoption but haven't been moved into a room where people interested in adopting can find them. One-third of the cages in the cat-adoption room were empty.

• Not all animals coming into the shelter are being vaccinated against diseases common in kennels.

• Disease rates are high, and deaths in kennels "have skyrocketed."

• Two dogs impounded last August as part of an animal-cruelty investigation are still being held as evidence — "even though there's no case pending."

• Five managers, most without shelter backgrounds, have run animal programs in the last seven years. The previous manager, Walt Washington, was sometimes pulled off the job to help with election operations.

The consultant is Nathan Winograd, a former operations director at the San Francisco SPCA and a national advocate for reducing animal euthanasia.

Here's another article about the mess. And here's the consultant's Powerpoint presentation.

Photo by nanadebmomstretch.

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