Non-Profit Headed By Debra George Will Take Over Burien Animal Control

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by Ralph Nichols

The newly formed Community Animal Resource Education Society (CARES), headed by Debra George, will take control of Burien animal care and control services beginning June 15.

City council members gave CARES a green light Monday night (April 11) by taking no action after all but two of them voiced support for the private non-profit group’s proposal.

CARES will be paid $10,000 a month under its contract with the city – a total of $360,000 through April 2014.

George co-owns The MARK Restaurant, manages the Burien Farmers Market and coordinates special events for Discover Burien. She is also a former executive director of the downtown organization.

In addition to George, CARES includes:

  • Michael Snyder, president of a local American Pit Bull Terrier club and a past national president of that organization for 10 years, who will be the full-time lead animal control field officer.
  • Sherry Meyers, a 20-year volunteer in the rescue, rehabilitation and placement of dogs in the Puget Sound region, who will coordinate animal placement. Meyers is president and rescue coordinator of the local American Eskimo club.
  • And Guy Knepp, the owner of a pet-grooming salon in Burien and a member of a Chow rescue group for 15 years, will be the community education and public relations specialist, and back up Snyder as a field officer.

The group will be responsible for enforcing animal control laws, picking up stray, injured and dangerous animals, and sheltering and adopting unclaimed dogs and cats. In addition, it will provide for sheltering, adoption and community education.

For now, sheltering will be contracted with P.J.’s Pet Ranch, not far from the Burien city limits in SeaTac, and with local veterinary clinics.

During the council discussion of whether to award the contract to CARES, Councilman Jack Block Jr. repeated his “concerns with the qualifications of the one bidder we have.”

Block again encouraged his fellow lawmakers to bring animal control and enforcement in-house through the Burien Police Department.

And Councilwoman Lucy Krakowiak continued her dissent, saying it was “unfortunate” they didn’t have before them for comparison information on “what services [the city] used to have” from King County.

This despite the fact that the King County animal control program that served Burien through last June 30 no longer exists.

But, said Councilman Gerald Robison, “I like the idea of contracting and non-profit … it is more responsive to what the community needs.”

In addition, CARES will provide a 24/7 response, compared to Des Moines where, “when the animal control officer is off duty, then police shoot dogs. We don’t want that in Burien.”

The city will continue to sell licenses and collect pet licensing fees, which will help pay for this program.

Although the CARES proposal isn’t ideal, “it is the best alternative we have at the moment,” added Councilman Gordon Shaw.

The city’s only other option, Shaw said, is “to relinquish all animal control functions and go to what we are legally obligated to provide” – responding to vicious and injured animals and reports of animal abuse.

“We had a good business model for what we tried to do” to replace the King County animal control program. “It didn’t work for whatever reason … I do not see after this short-term experiment that it’s time to swap programs.”

Shaw also noted that “people in this community want efficiency in government … “the proposal in front of us at this time seems to be the proposal” to try to do that.”

“The $120,000 [annual] contract gives us the minimum service we need and puts the burden for shelter, adoption and no-kill [of impounded animals] on CARES,” said Mayor Joan McGilton. “I’m very much for this contract.”

She added that CARES’s performance will be reviewed in six months, and that the group is required to submit monthly status reports.

With that, five of the council members nodded to City Manager Mike Martin to execute the contract, as provided by an earlier council action.

In April 2010, the Burien City Council opted not to participate in a new King County regional program and awarded the first local first animal control services contract to Dr. Leslie Kasper effective July 1.

The new county program would have cost Burien about $300,000 a year, while giving the city the services of a single animal control officer for just eight hours a week.

In January, Kasper gave the city a six-month notice that she will no longer provide these services.

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22 Responses to “Non-Profit Headed By Debra George Will Take Over Burien Animal Control”
  1. Burienite says:

    Joke. Not holding my breath that this will be successful. While I wish them well, they are grossly inexperienced and severely undertrained/uneducated in the proper methods of an animal control program.

    Someone please tell me how this group is even remotely qualified to take on this endeavor. It seems that the only qualification one needed is to have previous experience with owning a pet or simply likeing animals.

    The city has failed to do its DUE DILLIGENCE and properly analyze this group, and/or provide the tax payerw with a full comparison of all options.

  2. Ian Gunsul says:

    Glad to see the uninformed analysis without solution post again.
    The County is not the answer, as they’ve already failed.
    If not for all the volunteers and their efforts in the ’90’s, of which I was part of, KCAC would have euthinized any pet not claimed within 72 hours. Now those same local volunteers/citizens who helped turned KCAC into no-kill shelters and started the foster program and adoption events are offering to take on the task LOCALLY, willing to lobby for funding, get the training and give their time to make it work, and yet the people who sit on their hands and judge are still bitching.
    If you want to be part of the solution, then HELP, instead of sitting on the sidelines and complaining about those that are willing to at least try to be part of the solution to our local animal control problems.
    Show up in the City Coucil chambers and offer a viable solution and I’ll listen, otherwise I’m standing behind CARE’s until proven wrong.
    Animal control is a community wide effort, and using old fallbacks is not the answer.

    • Shari says:

      Yep. Like Steve Earle said: If you don’t vote, don’t bitch. There are so many ways we can all be helpful and if we don’t try, then failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and it’s the animals that bear the brunt of it.
      The lessons you learned in the 90’s will be invaluable– a group running this lean can’t afford to repeat past mistakes and would benefit from keeping past successful approaches in mind, so I hope you share that knowledge.
      Here’s hoping for the kind of Board of Directors that understands–and has the capacity to deliver on–their responsibility to be significant donors themselves and to bring the kind of major community connections that will raise significant funds and in-kind resources every year.

    • Lynnette says:

      What are you TALKING about?! King County not only has not failed, KCACC served this area WELL for 32 years. It has survived savage lies and propaganda attacks from a radical group seeking to take it over in 2008 and re-emerged in a new and much improved format as the Regional Animal Services of King County. Happily, the people who pushed to turn KCACC into the self-destroying, abusive animal warehouse model known as a “no-kill” shelter have NOTHING to do with CARES. By the way, KCACC did not euthanize (my spelling is the correct one) all animals held over 72 hours, nor does RASKC. The 20% euthanasia rate at the RASKC shelter is composed of extremely old, desperately ill, horribly injured, and incurably vicious animals. It is very rare for an adoptable animal to be euthanized there. Even when an animal is deemed unsuitable for the general adoption population, dedicated officers put time and effort into finding a private rescue or foster group to take that animal and work with it to make it adoptable or find a home for it. Tiny kittens and puppies are carefully cared for by foster families until they are old enough to go to good homes — unlike, for example, Tacome/Pierce county’s shelter where dependent baby animals are generally euthanized.

    • Rob says:

      I agree 100% Ian. I think you were reading my mind!

    • feralcat says:

      Really Petfinder are you willing to foster a FERAL mom and her babies. I have 3 that are from the Burien area. I have over 30 kittens. Want to come over and scoop litter boxes.
      i rescued some kittens with ringworm, well I can not safely bring those kittens into my house, because it is contagious and hard to get rid of. They came from the Burien area. So I call “CARES” and asked them to take them they said they refer cat calls out. Guess who they refer them to my rescue/trapping organization. Feral Cat Assistance and Trapping. So this is when I told them that this is not my responsibility to take these kittens. Then needed to put to sleep. OH are any of you willing to “roll up your sleeves” and take on some ringworm kittens? Yes they were tame.

      This is when I find out the “CARES” does not have the permits to euthanize animals. WHAT are you kidding me? How does that work? So if a person finds an injured animal and takes it to “CARES”, they tell that person they have to go some where else and PAY to have the animal euthanized? I don’t know of many people to pay over 100.00 to euthanize an animal.

      We are paying “CARES” $10,000.00 PER MONTH FOR NOTHING. Not to mention what ever they are paying the person who sits behind a desk and REFERS people and then “animal control officer” who deals with dog calls. The money that Burien spent on having KCAC as there shelter, was worth it. At least they offered actual services.

      I am going to the council meetings and saying my peace. I do/did vote. Although I will admit Burien was not a city when that time was present to do so, I was still in the Seattle area. That will change this year for sure.

      Carolyn there is nothing to volunteer for. They have no animals at that hole in the wall in the alley way. Want to come over to my house and volunteer?

      This is a catastrophe all ready happening. So rethink this and go back with KCAC at least they will do something instead of sitting on their hands and referring people to other RESCUE organizations, clearly “CARES” is not a shelter or rescue anything.


  3. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Again the council has taken the easy way out. What a shame. Let’s hope CARES get lucky and can make it work. They have three years to make it or break it. I have my doubts….

  4. Christine says:

    That budget is scary small.

  5. Lynnette says:

    It makes me so angry that Ralph Nichols INSISTS on repeating the false information that, if Burien joined the economical and successful Regional Animal Servies of King County program —

    “The new county program would … cost Burien about $300,000 a year, while giving the city the services of a single animal control officer for just eight hours a week.”

    WHAT?! Mr. Nichols did you simply not do your homework or are you deliberately lying to us? Those are the only 2 possibiiities. KCACC officers did excellent work in Burien for many years. (I lived here for 30 years and I know.) The statement about how the county services that served Burien before no longer exist is another either piece of misinformation. It certainly does. Regional Animal Services of King County is KCACC with some excellent improvements. If Burien joined, we would receive MORE officer time than we had before — MUCH more than “one officer for 8 hours a week”. WHO made that up?!
    The Leslie Kasper adventure was a horrible mess that resulted in a woman being hideously injured by a loose dog, dogs being starved to the point of death in plain sight on a residential street, and generalized chaos and suffering for animals and people. If the city has not learned their lesson from that — and obviously they haven’t — then I’m glad that the courageous individuals stepping up to try to bring order out of this chaos are at least people with genuine animal experience.

  6. Ralph Nichols says:

    Clarification Redux …

    I recently posted a “clarification” on this blog – gleaned from comments made during discussions about Burien’s animal control program – in response to an earlier post to set the record straight. Unfortunately, the “information” I provided about Des Moines Animal Control Officer Jan Magnuson is wrong.

    Des Moines City Manager Tony Piasecki told me today that “Jan was not and never has been a regular police officer who was turned into an animal control officer. She has a limited commission and caries weapons, but she is not considered a police officer and is not paid the same as a police officer. Her annual salary is lower. The $121,000 annual cost of the program … is the total amount we spend on animal control and includes not only Jan’s salary and benefits but the cost of supplies, equipment, vehicle, sheltering, insurance, computers, etc.”

    The Des Moines animal control budget can be viewed at – click on Departments, then Finance, and the city’s 2011 budget will be one of the link options.

    As I told Tony, I should have inquired before posting what proved to be a non-clarification. And for this misinformation, I apologize.

  7. Pethelper says:

    WOW! The city council has spoken, SO fellow Buriens, HOW are we as a community going to help make this work??? Kudos to those who are willing to give this group a chance (CARES) and boohoo to those negative nellies out there who have no clue. MY challenge to you is what are YOU going to do help your community?? Sit on your hands and complain?? Wine about some budget?? Blame your elected officials? Pick on some ones experience?? How about rolling your sleeves up and volunteering!! I will help anyway I can. Let’s help make Burien a safe place for our pets. We owe that to them.

  8. tripC says:

    The “Leslie Kasper adventure” was not the cause of the woman being hideously injured by a loose dog. This was caused by irresponsible, thoughtless, careless, undisciplined, reckless, owners. I am not an expert on this, but my guess is this might be the underlying cause for a vast array of issues that animal control is called upon to help with. This community might be better served expending its energy finding a way to solve that problem, rather than berate those trying to make a positive difference in the lives of animals. I herald the idea that those who truly want to make a difference should get involved, and help change our community for the better.

  9. Carolyn says:

    Who would be better qualified than someone who already is a marketing dynamo … and she knows how to get things to work well.
    I think CARES has a good chance for success and I’ll be watching for some fun and entertaining fundraisers coming into Burien’s future.
    I am planning to give some of my time as a volunteer whenever possible, because I am an animal lover and I know that I can’t personally save them all by myself. I consider it my priveledge to be a part of a caring community.
    If Burien citizens want to live in a ‘liveable community’, I think it would be prudent to participate in making the community liveable. It’s time to come out from under the rocks and lend a hand to those who are willing to go out on a limb for the good of the whole community.

  10. stuckinarut says:

    Well, we somehow got stuck with a couple of stray puppies and after posting on cl trying to find the owners and not wanting to just dump them off on some street corner or let them get ran over we contacted CARES to see about bringing them there. We were told it would cost something like $40.00 or $45.00 apiece to bring them there, Say what? So needless to say, we still have them but they have got to go. So someone out there tell us, what do we do with them? Feed them to the coyotes? That`s about what it may come down to. I love animals but we have enough of our own already.
    And solutions anybody?

    • feralcat says:

      stuckinarut :There is no solution at all. I guess there are “chipping” away at the problem. I do have a place that can take the puppies as they know the problems with “CARES” and can help.

      Pethelper do NOT disrespect me. I did NOT disrespect you. I stated the facts about “CARES” so your comments are not justified.

      Who is putting them down are you paying for this out of your own pocket? The fact is “CARES” does not euthanize animals. I called “cares’ and they could not give me answer as to what to do.

      PLEASE let me clarify: the $10,000.00 is a flat fee and I guess Debra George sees fit on how to disperse the monies.

      I got the contract between city of Burien and “CARES”. What if there is a fire, well in the contract it says the the shelter is to house that animal. Where is the animal supposed to go.
      Requirements for shelter should have been arranged before “CARES” opened up.

      # 2: building does not have any cages for cats or dogs.

      As you see they do not accept animals.

      Euthanizing animals is not being done, in the contract it says it should. The contract does state that failure to comply with the conditions of the contract may be grounds for termination. So they have less than a month to fulfill these conditions.

      The safety of the public is at risk period with this organization. People should be in fear.

      Educate yourselves everyone.

      “Failed” I am NOT.


      • stuckinarut says:

        Feral cat,
        Any chance on you letting me in on this place? I don`t want to see them euthanize d
        but I guess if that`s their best option, we just can`t keep them on a permanent basis.

  11. pethelper says:

    Dear Failedcat

    Thank you for your kind words for a group of people who are doing thier best to help our animals, There was such a huge line of groups ready to take on our citys animal control issue that the city just couldnt decide ??? mmm maybe it would be better to not have one at all… I will continue to support CARES,, because they are chipping away at the issue of animal control.. The office in the alley is a temparary location, I know they have there eyes on a new location that will better house animals. and wont be in that hole in the wall alley as you call it.

    To answer your question about taking care of kittens that are sick, I have taken a number of rescue dogs that had kennel caugh to my home to get them well again so I could place them in a new home, I have had my share of other sick type of dogs that had to be put down. Do I like it ? NO sometimes it has to be done !! So when the time comes that CARES needs a volunteer I will make myself availble..

    10K a month is a small amount to do the job this group is doing,, If you want to be effective, Ask the city council to increase the amount, to insure that the job is really funded to make it work…

    Kind Regards


    • Marianne says:


      10k a month is a small amount to do the job this group is doing…”

      I have read the contract between the City of Burien and CARES and understand what it is that CARES IS to be doing–the question is WHAT ARE they doing now for that $10,000 a month? According to the contract CARES has 60 days to be in compliance with its duties or the contract will be terminated. That leaves about a month…

      feralcat and myself both run rescue groups and understand the fostering of sick animals and the heartbreak and cost associated with their care. I believe Feralcat was trying to make the point that if the city of Burien has an animal control agency, why should the public have to pay out of their own pockets for the care of stray animals. Isn’t this what animal control is for?

  12. Frank T. says:

    CARES…do you accept/rescue/care for cats, rabbits, ferrets, and other small animals–or is your contract only for dogs? Thanks for clarifying.

    • feralcat says:


      They DO NOT take these animals in, not to mention they have NO place to put them. Again shelters are to help the general public with these matters.

      Everyone who is associated with “CARES” comes from dogs backgrounds. Debra is very “well connected” with the city of Burien. I am just saying.

      stuckinarutL you can email me at [email protected]


  13. stuckinarut says:

    They got a good home now with a bunch of kids

  14. Dirty says:

    Where do the fines go that the people are hit with? Does CARES get this on top of the 10,000.00 per month?

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