BREAKING: Dr. Leslie Kasper Resigns As Burien Animal Control Director
The B-Town Blog learned Friday (Feb. 11) that Dr. Leslie Kasper, director of Burien Animal Care and Control, is resigning “to change directions professionally.”
Kasper, a small and large animal veterinarian, informed the Burien City Council of her pending move in a letter dated Jan. 27.
She hopes to leave this position as soon as a replacement is selected and trained, but could stay on until July 27 as stipulated in her contract with the city.
“I will be glad to participate and assist in this transition, but in my newly developed professional experience, I feel the city should begin this process immediately so as to attempt to switch management prior to the summer busy season.”
Here’s a copy of the letter, which can also be downloaded as a PDF here:
Burien City Manager Mike Martin said the city will pursue a two-option approach in seeking a new animal control director.
“One, we will go back out to the private sector with requests for proposals (RFP)” for services in three areas: animal care and control, sheltering stray animals, and veterinary services.
The RFP is expected to be advertised by the city next week.
Interested persons may submit a proposal to provide one or all of these services,” Martin said. “I would still like very much to keep it in Burien, with a local business or businesses.”
The full animal care and control contract is for $120,000 a year, “and I would like very much for that to go back into the community.”
When King County pulled out of animal control services last year, Burien opted out of a new regional cooperative program.
Participation in the county’s regional cooperative would have cost the city almost $250,000 this year – while sharing a single animal control officer eight hours a day, five days a week, with several other cities and unincorporated areas.
Instead, Burien developed its own program, which involved contracting out animal field and sheltering services and bringing licensing services in-house at a cost of $120,000 a year.
Kasper, who at that time owned Companion Animal Medical Center in Normandy Park, became director of Burien Animal Care and Control on July 1.
However, the economic downturn combined with delays in rebuilding 1st Ave. S. through Normandy Park combined to force the closure of her veterinary clinic later last year.
Primary services for Burien Animal Care and Control are expected to remain the same: round-the-clock emergency response for vicious animals, animals with life-threatening injuries, and cases of hardship or law enforcement assistance, and maintenance of an animal shelter with 24/7 emergency access.
After the new proposals are received and analyzed, “if we are not satisfied, we will look at bringing animal control in-house and contracting out for veterinary care and sheltering,” Martin said. But at a time of government downsizing, “I very much like [the private sector] model.”
He added that “animal control is a discretionary service” for cities and counties” beyond capturing dangerous dogs and other animals. “People often forget that.”
“Burien Animal Care & Control has come a long way in the six months since its origin,” Kasper said in her letter. “We have established a known presence in the community, an overall successful opinion from its citizens, and helped hundreds of animals throughout the city.”
But, she cautioned, “The current animal control program … will not be sustainable without additional city support…. This dilemma has put a very large strain on me professionally, personally, ethically and financially.”
Martin said even in the last six months, Burien has received better animal control services from its fledgling program than it would have gotten from King County – while saving about $10,000 a month in what the regional cooperative program would have cost the city.
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