Health Dept. Closes CARES Animal Shelter; Could Re-Open Next Week
by Jack Mayne
A new Burien animal shelter could be allowed to begin housing and offering animals for adoption as early as next week, its director, Debra George said Monday.
The Community Animal Resource Education Society, or “CARES,” took control of Burien animal care and control services beginning a year ago.
CARES failed a health inspection by the King County Public Health Department last month, and was told it had to remove the few animals that were housed in the facility at 909 SW 151st Street. George leased the building and the city granted CARES a “limited occupancy agreement” for “human occupancy” only.
The health department inspector said there were numerous problems that would have to be fixed. George agreed there were problems and said all would be fixed in time for a new inspection next Monday, July 16.
“During the pre-opening inspection on June 19th, it was determined that the facility had not been completed and was out of compliance with regulations governing animal shelters in King County,” the health inspector wrote following the inspection. “Therefore we were unable to issue a permit to operate an animal shelter.”
“Furthermore, both cats and dogs were observed in the facility during the inspection. You are advised that the CARES facility does not have a Public Health permit and may not conduct animal shelter operations, such as holding animals and offering animals for adoption, until a permit is issued. Operating without a valid permit may subject you to fines and established by the King County Board of Health.”
Some of the items the health inspection found were:
- Infection control plan not supplied to the health department.
- Floors were not constructed to be “readily cleanable and water impervious material in indoor rooms, play areas, runs, pens, crates and creates and cages used to retain animals.”
- Dry wall, particle board, and wood surfaces were not painted and sealed to create water impervious surfaces.” The inspector found areas with “large chips or small holes” that could allow dirt of water that would not be “readily cleanable.”
- Also, cinderblock walls in dog runs “had gaps and holes.”
The inspector said CARES had to fix items, including a large hole in the back of the building “that could allow the escape of small animals or the entry of rodents and insect pests.”
Also noted by the inspector were the cat condos made of unpainted particleboard that should be “water resistant” and holes fixed in “holes where concrete was applied inconsistently, creating areas that would be hard to maintain in a sanitary manner.”
The health inspection said dog run enclosures had to be at least 48 inches high, because of a “concern previously expressed . . . that the height of these walls is insufficient to contain larger or athletic dogs.”
CARES agrees fixes needed
“When they inspected, we had a dog in a holding cell and we had three or four cats in here,” George said. “At that point in time when she (the health inspector) told us that we had to have them off premise, we moved them off premise.”
She says no animals are held by CARES now. When an animal is picked up it is looked at by a veterinarian, evaluated, and then placed into foster care, “until we get a (health) permit.”
Some people have reported hearing and smelling dogs outside the building, but they are from a “doggy day care” business run separately and not part of the CARES operation, George said.
When the facility was inspected, she said, “They wanted more things painted than what we had painted. We had sealed our concrete to what we thought was an adequate sealer, but it was a clear sealer and we understand that they prefer to have something more visible. We have worked through those issues with (the inspector) and we are continuing to work through those issues.”
The inspector is reinspecting the facility next Monday (July 16) and George says, “if we pass the inspection, we will meet our grand opening date, the next day, July 17th. If we don’t pass, we don’t pass. We’ll have to go through additional hoops to pass. It is not an easy thing to do.”
Hilary Karasz, a communications specialist for the Seattle and King County Health Department said the July 17 opening date is possible.
“If the June 16th inspection indicates that the facility is adhering to the code, they will be permitted to open immediately (as long as all other non-Public Health permits have been obtained, which may include, for example, a permit from the fire department).”
CARES is paid $10,000 a month under a contract with the city – or a total of $360,000 through the end of the contract in 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 that business organization.