LETTER: Burien Animal Care & Control’s Rebuttal To Monica Horn’s Letter

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sunday, Oct. 17th, we published a Letter to the Editor from Monica Horn, who claimed that the “City of Burien Animal Control … decided to euthanize all of the cats” along with other claims, like they “euthanized many healthy dogs.” Monica also said that the King County Animal Shelter in Kent “took much better care of these animals and at least they had a chance” and more. As of Wednesday (Oct. 20th), this Letter had elicited 68 Comments, making it one of the most-discussed issues in the history of The B-Town Blog. On Wednesday, Oct. 20th, we received a rebuttal from the city of Burien’s Animal Care & Control. For the sake of clarity, we’re re-publishing Monica’s letter first, then the city’s rebuttal:]


Dear City of Burien Council Members,

Companion Animal Medical Center located at 19655 1st Ave South #106 Normandy Park, Wa, the facility that manages the City of Burien Animal Control, has decided to euthanize all of the cats. Dr. Leslie Kasper stated that one of the kittens adopted out last week had the Panleukapania Virus. Dr. Kasper had not accurately determined that the Panleukapania Virus was the cause because she did not run any blood work to determine if the white blood cell count was low. Dr. Kasper did run a parvo test on the kitten but the test can read false positive or false negative which is not the determining factor that the kitten had the virus. Dr. Kasper has decided to euthanize all of the cats based on this information.

Dr. Kasper is going out of business effective tomorrow Friday 10/15/10 and has no where to house the current animals at the shelter. She has conveniently decided that all cats have the Panluekapania Virus and will euthanize them.

Many of the kittens at the shelter have died, due to not being treated and taken care of properly. Many of the kittens required antibiotics and fluid therapy of which she failed to treat them due to financial expenses but yet the City of Burien is paying her monthly to take care of these animals.

I would hope that the City of Burien would care for the welfare of these animals and expect that the animals are treated fairly and not just outsourcing the animal control services in spite of saving money and not caring for the welfare of these animals. I would hope that is not what the City of Burien intended. The citizens of Burien need to know what is actually going on when they bring in a stray animal to this shelter.

Dr. Kasper has euthanized many healthy dogs due to requiring additional space for her boarding dogs. These dogs were great dogs and very healthy. They have paid the ultimate price due to the horrible management of the animal control services taking place at Companion Animal Medical Center.

The King County Animal Shelter located in Kent took much better care of these animals and at least they had a chance. They do not have a chance at this facility as the facility itself is not set up properly for animal control services and Dr. Kasper is in the animal control business only for the money and not for the welfare of the animals. Dr. Kasper has tried very little to find foster parents or additional animal resource centers to find homes for these animals. Instead, they are just euthanized.

The City of Burien may be saving some money outsourcing the animal control services elsewhere but the animals are paying the ultimate price and this is not moral or ethical.

I expect the City of Burien council members to review, revise and change the way you are handling animal control services. The current contract with Companion Animal Medical Center needs to be canceled immediately.

Of course Dr. Kasper would like to continue with the animal control services, she’s making 120K a year to do this. How can she spay and neuter these animals without a facility. She will just euthanize more animals. If you are heartless, this is not a bad gig for 120K a year.

She is not an official animal control officer she’s a DVM. There is a big difference. The City of Burien needs to go back to King County to professionally-maintained animal control services.

– Monica Horn


October 20, 2010

Dear Community Members:

This is a response to the letter submitted to The B-Town Blog from Monica Horn regarding the shelter facility for Burien Animal Care and Control under my direction. I would like to address the situation regarding sick animals at the BACC shelter and the statement made that all of the cats at the shelter were euthanized. This is false. We still have many healthy, immune cats available for adoption. They can be found on PetFinder.com listed under Burien Animal Control.

We did have a kitten adopted out who developed Feline Panleukopenia. The adopted parents’ veterinarian diagnosed the kitten through a combination of fecal and blood tests. We were promptly notified and began investigating the health and exposure possibilities of the other cats in our facility. I pursued a recognized best practice to prevent a widespread outbreak, consistent with the Koret Shelter Medicine program at UC Davis’ College of Veterinary Medicine, a leader in shelter medicine education and research:

“At risk/exposed cats must be strictly isolated to prevent continued spread of disease. Depending on resources, this can be done either by a 14-day quarantine or euthanasia of exposed cats.” They also warn “The incubation period is generally less than 14 days, and cats may shed infectious virus for 2-3 days before signs are observed. Kittens are at highest risk for this disease, and adult cats with current vaccinations are at very low risk.”

I decided on a mixed approach of isolation and then testing if any cats or kittens appeared sick. During the initial 48 hours after the confirmed kitten’s diagnosis, nine kittens and cats tested positive for Feline Panleukopenia on conventional tests and required euthanasia.

We make every effort to find homes for every adoptable cat or dog that we handle. While this is not always possible I can assure the community that every animal is treated humanely and in accordance to the contract that I have with the City of Burien.

I am in regular contact with City staff, including the City Manager, who have been to my facility and met with me on several occasions. The City Manager has said on numerous occasions he is supportive of the way I handled this situation, and of the way I am performing all the terms of my contract with the City. It has not always been easy, and when it became clear that I would need to cease operating my veterinary practice, I worked with City staff to ensure that Burien Animal Care and Control would continue to operate smoothly.

In closing, I would like to thank the dozens of volunteers and supporters of our efforts. Without your dog-walking, cat-cuddling, box-scooping time and devotion we would not have been able to help as many animals as we have. I am actively searching for a new location where we can reestablish a publicly accessed shelter to continue to serve our community. If you are interested in helping with this process, please contact BACC.

Thank you for your continued support. I look forward to continue to provide the Burien Animal Care and Control services for you and our animals.

Leslie Kasper, DVM
Director, Burien Animal Care and Control

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20 Responses to “LETTER: Burien Animal Care & Control’s Rebuttal To Monica Horn’s Letter”
  1. critical thinker says:

    Based on the response letter, the public has no way of knowing if the initial allegations are true. We are asked to simply accept that Dr. Kasper is knowledgeable and has good intentions. It is possible that she is smart, educated, and willing, but simply not capable of taking on such a large task that requires some experience.

    I hope Dr. Kasper has better luck in the future managing BACC. This response, however, bears the characteristics of all official Burien statements: we did nothing wrong, we know better than you, trust us.

    • John says:

      I would agree with Critical Thinker and would like to add…

      I am an avid reader and supporter of this blog. So I hope this doesn’t seem harsh. But doesn’t this Blog have the responsibility to ensure what are sent in as “Letters to the Editor” are as factual as possible? Do you guys go out and try to validate what is in the letter? Did you contact the dr to see if these allegations were true? It seems with allegations such as this, validating this up front would be important.

      I commented originally due to the content of this first letter. I took the writer’s words as truth. Since that is all we can go by right? Now I am in serious doubt as to what the truth is. Seems like there are some issues going on here that are coming out after the letters were written which shows me the real problem isn’t identified or being addressed. Just my thoughts.

  2. Redleg says:

    I just want to say that I left my 2 dogs, who are like family to me, with DR. Kasper for over a week when I was out of town this past summer. This was the first time they had ever been away from home and kenneled. My dogs were treated very, very well and returned home happy and healthy. I might add that their kennel was in the same area as the kennels of the stray dogs. Believe me when I say that I checked out DR. Kasper’s clinic unannounced more than once before I dropped off my dogs. Each time I found it clean and efficiently run. I am only sorry that I will not be able to board them there in the future. This whole mess sounds like a hatchet job on the doctor when she is experiencing troubles and to me like a lot of sour grapes from the original letter writer. It almost sounds like they have a personal axe to grind.

  3. Eaton B. Verz says:

    I was just about to write the same thing when Critical thinkers response popped up. I wholeheartedly agree. How can we just take someones word? It seems to me she had eveything to gain by getting rid of these animals in her vulnerable time. Mr. Martin and the council are NOT trustworthy in my opinion. I guess nobody will really find out the real truth-one way or the other. Only the good Dr. knows for sure. I hope the city takes note…Do your research before award these contracts. At least do a credit and background check. Also, why take soooo long to adress the situation? The silence spoke volumes.

    • Loves Cats says:

      I have to agree. The Council gave the City Manager a second chance when he quit being city manager for Kent after having a drunk driving accident that harmed someone. Then they gave him a second second chance after he had another drunk driving accident with a pot. Now they have given the animal control job to a person who doesn’t have the money to keep her clinic together. Did they even bother to check if she had a real plan? Or just take the only person who wanted the money? Another second chance that will harm the animals we had hoped they would protect?

      In the end the Council has given city employees an award for the job they did. Just as they hired Mike Martin shortly after a drunk accident and the city of Kent not wanting him. They aren’t going to do anything about this woman because they don’t want to look bad. Better to pretend everything is okay then admit to being wrong.

      Lord help us all if they really do try to form a City Police department rather then contracting with the County.

      But we can all be happy that city employees and especially the city manager won’t have to give up their raises even when no one else is getting them.

  4. Questioning .... says:

    It lookd to me like Monica had an axe to grind with the Dr and was trying to get back at her, but the Docotr has a motivation to spin the gacts also.

    On Mr Martin – get over it. The condtions the council put on him after hw hit the pot should solve the problem.

    Right now he cannot drink and must submit to a test at the request of the mayor, but the point is the Doctor not Mr Martin.

  5. barb says:

    Dr. Kasper has been an excellent vet! she has taken the best care of my dogs and cats, she is very kind hearted and addressed all health concerns and the best forms of treatment . her state of the art clinic was the best ive ever visited and i would refer any loving pet owner to her pet hospital. it saddens me that her office is closing and that we will have limited help with strays and help controlling buriens pet population.

  6. Star says:

    I agree with others that it sounds like Monica may have had a personal problem with Dr. Kasper, and decided to over exaggerate the facts. Why she would want to do harm to someone who seems to have done so much to help her out, I do not know.

    I do believe that Dr. Kasper did the best she could. If you do some research, there are web sites out there that say to do the exact thing that Dr. Kasper did. She did what she had to in order to save the healthy cats.

    Since rumor has it this Mr. Martin person has said that Burien is bringing in big bucks and he should get a raise, maybe use that extra cash to BUILD Dr. Kasper a shelter building that would be better equipped to handle situations like this. And while they are at it, maybe increase her pay so she can hire more LVT and maybe one more DVM and have some enforcement officers. If Burien truely wants to have a working shelter program, they will need to dump some big bucks into getting it started.

    That is just my opinion, and keep up the good work Dr. Kasper! Not everyone is against you, some support you.

  7. Thom Grey says:

    Again Dudes, this vet took a contact that no other vet or service would touch with a ten foot pole. Everyone in the know knew that job couldn’t be done correctly for what Mikie Martin was offering. The vet has no real plans for adoption, low cost neuter and spay services and didn’t even have enough space. No one was using her as a real vet-that’s why her business went down the crapper. The Department of Transportation was picking up injuried and dead animals. Heck of a way to use our Department of Transportation and expensive. There was no real animal pick up plan for animals on the weekends or at night. The city gave away a slug of free licenses instead of collecting monies to run the program- a no brainer. The tags didn’t even have a correct phone number to contact Animal Control on them.The space and the supplies ran out. Time to execute more dogs and cats. Innovative Animal Control Program my A**. Now she wants us to feel sorry for her because someone told on her. Some of you dudes want to blame the whistle blower? You want to blame Scott S. for letting the story be told? Get Real! The vet lacks good judgement and ethics. Barb, she may be great at dog walking and boarding your dog for a weekend but she should not be in charge of animal control-again another no brainer. She does not know how to do it. We should not be discussing a raise for Mikie Martin or her. Small animals shouldn’t be their victims.

    BUT..Duh, dudes-the real creep in this whole thing is Mike Martin-the City Manager. This dude goes to the City Council and first tells them that they have no responsibilty to do animal control. Then he comes back and pitches them a story that they can do it for about $100,000 a year. Dry Drunk Martin makes about $140,000 and is always crying for a raise. Next he finds a dumb, new vet who does not have a living clue about how to do animal control. Desperate for the bucks she takes the job. When the bucks started to run out the vet’s ethics start to run out too. Time to kill lots of dogs and cats to cover the overhead costs.
    The City Council Members-minus Lucy- that do not have two brain cells to rub together never bother to ask about how Burien can run animal control for $100,000 when it takes King County $250,000 to do animal control in Burien? Seems like old “Dry Drunk Mike”could sell them the Brooklyn Bridge with no questions asked.
    Here is the real kicker, Mike Martin and staff give themselves an award for their innovatiove Animal Control Program that is abusing and killing the animals in the program. At the last City Council, meeting Martin told the Council that the City was rolling in so much dough that he and the staff should have salary increases and raises for the next two years. Of course, these raises are being given over the bodies of dead animals. Sad, sick story.
    Dudes, instead of beating the keys and arguing with each other, tell the City Council Mike Martin needs to be fired. He has been caught drunk driving twice and has set up a disgusting Animal Control model. Contact the Humane Society and Paws and demand an investigation into the sleazy Burien Animal Control model.
    Yep, the vet needs some kind of punishment for her behavior. Yep, Mike Martin needs to go. I hear dogs and cats cheering around the world at those ideas-yip yip and meow meow.

  8. chris says:

    It’s no wonder this Animal Control situation is a fiasco. As I said in a post awhile back, it is fine for the city to do their own thing with regards to animal control, however they failed to ensure that whoever is going to actually run the program has proper training and certifications.

    This vet should’ve at LEAST had a certification from NACA (National Animal Control Association).

    I get the impression that this “plan” didn’t take into consideration what qualifications are needed AND most importantly, didn’t plan accordingly for facilities.

    My recommendation to the city is to re-evaluate the current setup, and come up with a better plan or system.

  9. fostercats says:

    I am glad there is a public inquiry into Burien Animal Control and hope there is a public town meeting about it.
    As a 7 year veteran volunteering and working for various animal welfare org’s and shelters, I have seen the “best practices” utilized during outbreaks of panleukopenia and it’s heartbreaking, but apparently necessary. Who knows what really happened at Burien Animal Control, but it almost doesn’t matter.
    What matters is that IMO, there has been a breach of contract: the shelter contracted to perform animal care and control is no longer available and operating. I would think that Dr. Kasper would have had some idea her business was unsustainable at the time she accepted the city’s contract, and yet did not share her concerns or mention to City Council the possibility she would be unable to provide the services for which she would be paid.

    I had questions as to whether she was qualified to shelter animals or had ANY experience in sheltering when I heard she took the contract. I offered to volunteer my time and she never responded to my offer. I wondered about:
    housing sick pets away from healthy populations/ISO
    feral TNR programs
    volunteer/outreach programs
    foster programs
    adoptions programs
    euthanasia policy (most organizations have a panel that will decide together when/if an animal must be euthanized).
    there are also legal issues when an animal must be taken away from owners or if there is a legal dispute regarding cruelty charges etc.
    The bottom line is that no new shelter program claiming best practices should operate without being in compliance with the guidelines of the No Kill Coalition.
    There is plenty of evidence that there are plenty of homes for animals and euthanizing is an outdated method of space/resource management.
    In order to provide animals with the best possible care, Burien Animal Control should be required to become certified by NACA and adhere to No Kill Coalition practices, and should include more than one person as managing operations. There should be an oversight body as well. We should not have to wonder if whoever is in charge has any experience or knows anything about sheltering, or try to figure out what is going on. It should be transparent and a matter of public record. The residents should have a say in what’s happening to their animals.
    Sheltering is huge job that even the most well funded and widely known org’s have difficulty giving every animal the best chance. But Seattle Animal Shelter does the best job with city fund I’ve seen. Their advice and oversight would be a huge benefit to Burien’s questionable answer to animal control.
    Blessings to the animals.

  10. felinefuture says:

    there is no need to reinvent the wheel here. there are plenty of animal shelters to model after and plenty of best practice policies already in existence to follow.
    Dr. Kasper did not act in good faith when she took a contract she could not fulfill – where are Burien’s homeless pets now that her clinic has closed? where can people go to adopt them? what happens to the ones that fell through the cracks when her clinic closed.

    City Council did not do their job when they gave a contract without looking into the financial stability and financial practices of their contractor. How do they know she can even handle money properly?

    • Eaton B. Verz says:

      That is the real issue here, the city council did not do their job. They rely on the city manager to guide them and take care of the day to day. He is obviously unable to follow thru with the basics but the council hires him and is ultimately responsible. I urge everyone to write or call the city council tell them how you feel about this situation and maybe they will finally get the message. Along this vein maybe it’s time to significantly increase the compensation for the council position. If we increase the pay maybe we can get REAL professionals with experience to run our city. You get what you pay for. Our animal control program is a prime example. Just a thought put out there there for some of you deeper thinkers than I. Have fun with it!! Regards, Eaton

  11. fosterpets says:

    adopting out unaltered kittens is totally unconscionable and certainly not a best practice. It should NEVER happen. It only makes more work later on when those kittens have kittens etc.
    It shows Dr. Kasper does not know what she’s doing and that she’s desperate and does not have a plan, or the plan she has isn’t working.
    This combined with the fact that she no longer has an operating shelter shows she is not the person to be trusted with the honor of protecting the sentient beings that are Burien’s animals.
    I am horrified to think of where I would go to find my pets if they were to go missing or be injured. Or even who I could call to receive a response.
    I hope City Council will learn their lesson and find a more suitable resolution for caring for the community’s animals.

    • wile e coyote says:

      Oh Monica,
      There is nothing wrong with a animal
      shelter doling out unaltered kitties.
      We could share some for lunch.

    • Kitty Mama says:

      If you know so much, why didn’t YOU bid to do the job? (And I only mean that 25% snarkily…)

      It’s easy to second guess folks… And to assume you know what you’re talking about when you have two or three “facts”.

      Seems we’re going back into the dirty world of assumptions and “I’m smarter than everybody else” attitude that started this entire drama.

      It’s too bad. I thought Burien was smarter than this…

  12. Well, I just wanted to say that Leslie is a nice lady and I am thankful for adopting two female chihuahua’s from her then business. According to my documents and conversation we had at the time of adoption…she was certain one had a spay scar and the other one may not have a spay scar.

    My receipts were noted as spayed/neutered and well it turned out that both of my dogs were pregnant. I have two male chihuahuas and yes they shoul have been fixed-but if my girls were spayed and neutered as it were stated on the receipt, then I wouldn’t have 10 puppies to worry about. Im sure she is great at what she does and people make mistakes, but this is costly…having to now deal with the repercussions….I do not regret adopting these chihuahuas but I will never seek assistance from this shelter.

    Reading this thread really upset me because I have the facts, papers and pictures to prove it! Hopefully, everyone learned something out of this.

  13. notsupprised says:

    ” Im sure she is great at what she does”

    WAKE UP!!!!
    10 puppies that need homes now !!!
    Leslie you make me sick……
    How much a year are the tax payers / voters paying for these so called services ???
    OR better yet how much is it going to cost us before the city of Burien wakes up???

  14. notsupprised says:

    I agree with Eaton B. Verz

    Why take soooo long to adress the animal care and control situation? The cities silence speeks volumes….. As tax payers we deserve to have this situation addresed SOON!!!

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