Burien’s New Animal Care & Control Manager Purrs About Her New Gig
Tyee High School graduate Dr. Leslie Kasper, who came back to the Highline area as a veterinarian, is ready to take the reins of Burien Animal Care and Control on July 1.
And right out of the chute, Kasper and two assistants will face the year’s biggest annual animal-control challenge – the intake and return of dogs, frightened by July 4th fireworks, who have run away from home.
“We’re excited. We’re ready to serve the community,” Kasper told The B-Town Blog. “We want people to know they can contact us and we will be there for them.”
Beginning July 1, Burien Animal Care and Control can be reached at 206.870.8471.
Burien is getting into animal control services because King County is getting out – leaving cities to join its new regional plan or to adopt their own programs.
City council members adopted the new program by a 5-2 vote on June 21. Mayor Joan McGilton, Deputy Mayor Rose Clark, and council members Brian Bennett, Jack Block Jr. and Kathy Keene voted for it.
Council members Lucy Krakowiak and Gordon Shaw voted no.
Kasper’s contract to provide all animal control services for the city – except pet licensing – for $120,000 a year was approved by a 6-1 council vote. Krakowiak was the lone dissenter.
Primary services will include round-the-clock emergency response for vicious animals, animals with life-threatening injuries, and cases of hardship or law enforcement assistance, and the maintenance of an animal shelter with 24/7 emergency access.
The city animal shelter will be located at the veterinary clinic Kasper owns and operates Companion Animal Medical Center (BTB Advertiser) at 19655 1st Ave. South, which is closer for the public to retrieve stray pets than the existing facility in Kent.
It will be staffed by qualified personnel and open to the public 40 hours a week, including Saturdays.
Initially, animal control will be staffed by Kasper, Lisa Raught, the lead veterinary technician at the clinic, and Guy Knepp, the owner of Posh Puppy Salon in Burien.
Kasper said in an interview that running the new animal control program “gives me the opportunity to provide something that is important to the community – and important to the animals.”
The city will take over pet licensing services and reduce license fees from what King County has charged. On Aug. 1, fees will drop from $30 to $20 for spayed and neutered pets, and from $90 to $50 for unaltered animals. Licenses issued in July will be free.
City staff had recommended that fees for altered pets be cut in half, to $15, to encourage more people to license their pets. But Block, expressing concern because the city is “on a very tight budget right now” called the proposed reduction “too low.”
Block then offered an amendment to establish this fee at $20. “I support every other part [of the program] but will not vote for it if this is not in it,” he said.
Clark, Bennett, Block and Krakowiak voted for the amendment, while McGilton, Keene and Shaw opposed it.
“People need to remember that a licensed pet is a healthier pet, a pet that gets returned home” if it gets lost, then found, Kasper said.
Pet licenses help in other ways, she continued, such as keeping stray dogs off the streets and preventing “puppy mill” operations.
Kasper, who was raised in SeaTac and graduated from both Washington State University and the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine, said she has “always been interested in animals. I’ve always wanted to help animals.”
While her clinic here cares mostly for dogs and cats, she is an experienced large animal vet as well.
During her first year out of veterinary school, Kasper worked at a clinic in Cheney, taking care of “cattle, horses, sheep, goats, llamas, pigs. If it was raised on a farm, I saw it.”
Burien doesn’t have many agricultural animals – a few chickens and goats – but if something were to happen involving large animals regionally, a major case or a natural disaster, she is prepared to help.
With family ties in the Highline area, it was easy for Kasper to come back when her fiancé (now her husband) got a “great” job here. “I love the Burien area,” she added.
Taking charge of Burien Animal Care and Control also gives Kasper an opportunity to work with law enforcement. “Your license helps animals across the board.”
She has “always had a strong sense of community service. When I was younger, I also thought of being a police officer. This gives me opportunities to work with the police and to work with the community.”
Kasper noted that “the majority of animals seen by animal control are strays that are running loose and are aggressive. They are intact and behavior driven.”
Spaying and neutering pets can modify aggressive behaviors. “Anytime is better than never,” she said, but it’s easier to alter those behaviors by having it done early in a pet’s life.
Doing this also prevents the birth of unwanted animals that, in turn, continue to re-populate.
The proposed program will cost Burien $120,000 a year for contracting out animal field and sheltering services.
Participation in the county’ regional cooperative would have cost the city almost $250,000 next year, while sharing a single animal control officer eight hours a day, five days a week, with several other cities and unincorporated areas from Skyway to Vashon.
The city has been collecting about $119,000 in pet license fees annually and transferring these funds to King County, which would have continued to take this revenue under its regional plan – while also billing Burien an additional $120,000 for these services next year.
Burien will collect about two-thirds of that amount with its lower fee structure. The the money to pay for the city’s animal control services will come from discretionary general fund revenue.
Information from the City about Licensing Your Pet in Burien:
New licenses will be free during the month of July.
Pet owners can obtain free licenses at a special kick-off event of the new Burien Animal Care and Control program. This event will take place on Thursday, July 8, at 6:15 p.m., just prior to the summer’s first Music in the Park concert at Lake Burien School Park, SW 148th St. and 16th Ave. SW. Leashed pets are welcome. Residents need to bring documentation of spay/neuter if that applies to their pet(s).
The cost of licenses beginning Aug. 1 is $20 annually for altered pets and $50 for unaltered pets. Licenses are good from July 1 until June 30, 2011. Current annual pet licenses obtained through King County Animal Control are valid in Burien through June 30, 2011.
Senior citizens can obtain a permanent license for their altered pet for a one-time charge of $15. Lifetime licenses issued by King County will be honored. Licenses are free for service animals with documentation.
Lost or stolen dogs and cats are more likely to return home safely if they are wearing a license tag.
Licenses can currently be obtained at:
Burien City Hall, 400 SW 152nd St., Suite 300
8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday
Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave. SW
8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday
Burien City Hall North, 1218 46 Des Moines Memorial Drive
10 a.m.-noon, Tuesdays and Thursdays
Online at www.burienwa.gov/animalcontrol