Health Dept. Closes CARES Animal Shelter; Could Re-Open Next Week

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The Burien CARES Animal Shelter, located at 909 SW 151st Street. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

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.”

Work on the rear of Burien’s new CARES Animal Shelter is visible in this view from the alley. Photo by Scott Schaefer.

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.

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40 Responses to “Health Dept. Closes CARES Animal Shelter; Could Re-Open Next Week”
  1. Skeptical says:

    The citizens of Burien are just plain stupid if they believe anything George says. She has had at least six months to get this done. She shouldn’t need to be asked to comply with such basic needs. It should have been obvious in the first place. Why would anyone eat in her restaurant if she is unable to figure out how to provide the bare minimum for animals?

    Burien government has given her a free pass to do whatever she wants, I don’t know why. She probably expected King County government to roll over for her as well, but they didn’t.

    Why is this being tolerated?

  2. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Not surprised. Funny it took this long to get out. This will be the norm until we get rid of the majority of the council and Mike Martin.

  3. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    So Did George fail the inspection prior to her one year June 18th ” update” to the city council?and if so why was this not presented to the council?

  4. Ed Dacy says:

    The fact that it had not been inspected and that no permit had beenissued to house the animals should have been reported by Ms George

  5. Mr. Optimistic says:

    It seems they are doing their best. Thanks to them, my friend found his beloved pet that had gotten away for almost 7 days! Keep up the good work CARES!

  6. Laura Stiles says:

    Really Jack and Scott (author and poster of article)? Slow news day? What’s the deal with all the drama and giant red “Closed” lettering across the photo of the shelter? CARES has been working with the health department for months to meet their requirements, and is almost done doing the required work, as reported to the council last month. Their city occupancy permits are in place, and those of us who support CARES are excited to be so close to completion of our very own shelter. Animal control services continue as usual, it is just the shelter that is not yet fully completed.

    It would have been nice if you had chosen to focus on the positive aspects of this community effort. Staff and volunteers have been working 7 days a week to complete the work orders. Local cities are just starting to break away from the county regional services, so there is not a handy model to follow. I’m proud of Burien for being willing to step out and try something new, where we have a local officer dedicated to serving our town full-time, and shelter services will be available right in downtown. It’s not easy to start up a new model, and certainly there will need to be adjustments along the way. It seems that our citizens want to receive quality services for a discount price, and the funding arrangements may need to be revised. By the way, none of the contract money has paid for shelter construction – CARES has had to round up donations of money, materials, and labor themselves. I hope you concerned pet-lovers out there will all be pitching in. And be sure to purchase pet licenses for your animals – it’s required, it’s the best way to be sure your pet will be reunited with you if it gets lost, and the funds help the city pay for the services.

    Thank you “Mr. Optimistic” for your refreshing commentary – I’d like to see a lot more support and can-do attitudes out there, rather than the complaining, criticizing and otherwise not-helpful input that is usually found on the B-Town “Bash,” where nobody seems to say anything positive about Burien.

    • John Poitras says:

      The problem Laura is that we need PROFESSIONALS running animal control in Burien ,its just too important to try and do it on the cheap and leave to amateurs and volunteers.. (although its better than nothing). Obviously you are finding being a shelter and animal control facility for Burien to be quite a challenge , how are you going to accommodate Area Y as well if we annex? Area Y currently is serviced by King County animal control, which lets face it offers much superior services than Cares ever will.
      Seatac just approved a contract with King County Animal Control services that will only cost them $107,000 a year which is less than what Burien is paying CARES because they had a city manager that actually has some negotiating skills. And from what you are saying the $10,000 a month that Burien tax payers are paying for the Cares Project is not enough to get the job done so you have to solicit donations and volunteers to supplement your lack of funds. If we had King County doing animal control none of this would be an issue. Also I doubt they would have failed a Public Health Inspection TWICE.
      Its scary to me that Burien Cares has not submitted an infection control plan which to my way of thinking should have been near or at the top of your things to do list.

    • Dr McDreamy says:

      Read before this is removed!

      Laura, I agree with you 100%! The owner of this site is ANGRY with the owner of CARES and the MARK BECAUSE that same person is also involved in Discover Burien.

      This sites owner is upset that he’s being forced to share the Burien Farmers Market as evidenced in his MANY ANGRY facebook posts as one very public example of his motives. This mans motives are just below the surface…. he wants to hurt that owner.

      I dare you to leave this on!

      • William Forest says:

        McDreamy. . I totally disagree with your assessment>>> I think that Jack is doing what he has always done which is REPORT THE NEWS.
        I think MANY PEOPLE are not only disappointed in the owner of CARES they are even more disappointed in a city manager that would let the situation degenerate to what it is now.. a big embarassing mess.
        It is very telling that your post totally ignores the main point of the animal control problem we have here in Burien.
        You obviously have a personal agenda here and apparently you are angry at Jack Mayne because of something that was posted on Facebook?
        The point is your post could be viewed as what is referred to as “attack and distract” because it is totally disconnected from the topic at hand, which is the unacceptable animal control services(and lack of) we currently are stuck with in Burien.

        • Laura Stiles says:

          The main animal control problem we have in Burien is PEOPLE. We need a shelter mostly because people abandon their pets, allow them to reproduce, let them run loose, and so on. So again, good citizens, please license your pets, keep them well contained on your property, get them spayed/neutered, train them to behave, and so on.

      • “Dr McDreamy” –

        While you’re entitled to your opinion, as well as the privilege of posting it on *our* blog (there’s actually a LLC partnership behind this business), I feel I need to clarify a few bits of misinformation you’re sharing:

        1. I am *not* upset that I have to share the Burien Farmers Market with my “competition” at all. In fact, I was the one who proposed a compromise (during a Discover Burien board/marketing meeting) that allows space there to be shared. I have even encouraged having both blogs be present at the same time, perhaps even next to each other, so residents can compare us directly.

        2. Please re-post just one angry Facebook Post I made, because I don’t recall posting any that could be considered angry like you claim. I even reviewed my own Facebook timeline (as well as the blog’s), and the only comments that could be construed as angry came from other people, not me.

        3. I have no desire to hurt Debra George. The fact of the matter is that, since taking over Burien’s Animal Control (and now working for the city) she has become a public figure, and has therefore suffered from Comments made by Readers of this website.

        Also note that I always Comment using my full, real name, and do not hide behind a pseudonym; however, I have made a point of allowing anonymous Comments and will fight to protect your right to free speech. Please also note that your Comment was not removed.

        However, misinformation like what you’ve shared needs to be corrected, and that’s why I replied to your Comment.

        Scott Schaefer
        (206) 248-2565

        • Dr McDreamy says:

          Then why haven’t you been at the market on weeks the “competition” has been there?

          The farmers market on the 5th, you said you were taking the day off to get caught up and something to the affect the unethcial competition being there and the original blog would be back next week. The previous time the competition had a booth your reserved booth sat empty. That same week you said the Des Moines Farmers market was way better than the Burien one.

          So YOUR solution has not been taken advantage of because YOU have not shown up!

          I also looked for those posts but they’ve been removed. It’s a good thing I screen grabbed and saved them at home.

          I understand the business need you have to drive traffic, but please do it in an ethical manner without destroying reputations. I agree with Laura Stiles on this one.

          • McDreamy –

            Again, you’re misinformed:

            The reason The B-Town Blog wasn’t at the Burien Farmers Market when our “competition” was (2 times so far – we’ve been at 80% of the 10 markets this year) is because, when we can’t make it (due to staffing/family issues both times), Debra calls Matt and has him take our place, apparently in the exact same spot, imitating us as best he can (just how ethical is that?). He only shows up when we’re not there, and does so only after getting a call from Debra.

            FYI, we’ve been doing the market since the Spring of 2008, and since last year we have been providing out own tent, which means your comment “your reserved booth sat empty” is WRONG. When we’re not there, there’s NO booth/tent so how could ours sit empty?

            I stand by my Facebook comments (which were in no way ANGRY as you claimed earlier), and will defend my right to free speech. I also encourage anyone interested in comparing markets to visit the Des Moines Farmers Market and judge for themselves which is better (Saturdays at the DM Marina, 10am-2pm). As a member of the Board of Discover Burien, it is my intention to do what I can to make the Burien market better, and that includes exploring why other markets do better than ours. Is there something wrong with that? Are you 100% happy that the Burien Farmers Market is the best it can be?

            How you also jump to the conclusion that I am intentionally destroying others’ reputations escapes me though. If you only knew how many times I have risen above and not approved comments or made posts, or held onto stories to get both sides (case in point the current, fair, news-based one about CARES), you might understand how I strive to be both ethical, reasonable and fair.

            Why don’t you come by our booth at this Thursday’s Farmers Market (yes, we’ll be there – will our “competition”? I recommend that he does, and does so right next to our booth!) and let’s talk face-to-face? I’ll be there from setup (9:30ish) through 6pm.

            Scott Schaefer
            (206) 248-2565

          • Eato B. Verz says:

            Cares destroyed it’s own reputation. No help needed there.

        • wheels says:

          Scott, Dr. McD would appear to be a troll, and by responding to him, you have given him exactly what he wanted.

        • Bonnie Moormeier says:

          Scott Shaeffer, just want to let you know what a great job you are doing with the B-Town blog. Where else would we get current, accurate, up-to-the minute news on what is happening in our community? Don’t let the anonymous ranters on the blog discourage all your good work. We need people like you who are supporters of our community, but recognize there are opportunities for questioning and promoting improvements. Unfortunately, some people seem to be unable to express their views in an appopriate, civil fashion, but prefer to make anonymous personal attacks on individuals, rather than on the issues. You are right on about the obvious differences between the Burien and Des Moines Farmers’ markets. Keep up the good work – Burien needs you!

  7. Cuppa Joe says:

    “When they inspected, we had a dog in a holding cell and we had three or four cats in here,” George said. Wow. A “cell”? That certainly is telling. How sad.

    • Ray Helms says:

      Yes Joe, If you are old enough, it is called a pound. Where animals go because of BAD pet OWNERS. I’ve never lost my dog OR cat of 12 years. I get dozens of calls a week of irresponsible people who want to find a way to dump their dogs or neighbors who want to remain anonymous while complaining about each other. Give me a call and we can talk about the real world instead of the PC one you must live in behind your PC.

      • William Forest says:

        Ray … How about dogs that bark NON STOP that you do nothing about? How about the dangerous animal complaints that you seem to never have time to respond to? I know we would be better served by King County because YES they actually do respond to these kind of calls AND IN A TIMELY MANNER!

      • Cuppa Joe says:

        Um, Ray, I’m in my 40s; so what. Are you the actual Ray Helms that works for cares and do you usually speak to citizens that way?! Real professional. My point was that using the term “cell” is indicative of how someone feels those animals should be treated – like criminals that deserve to be punished? It is also uninformed and not a term that responsible animal welfare groups would ever use. It is archaic, as is “pound” by the way. What decade are you living in? It’s not a matter of being politically correct, simply a matter of being current and aware of best practices, attitudinal and operational. It does not appear that cares is well-informed on either.

      • Ghost of Maplewild says:

        He’s an angry dog-catcher isn’t he.

  8. Foster Mom says:

    Really people?! I hear this kind of bickering from little kids not adults!! this finger pointing and back stabbing is just a lot of big people that need to grow up!! Why dont some of you get off your pity-pots and pedistals and try becoming part of a solution instead of the problem!!
    How many of you animal loving complainers have one of the dogs brought in from the hoarding case? Stevie (so named cuz she’s blind!) could only walk in “circles” the size of a kennel when she was brought home! Urine still stains her once beautiful long hair despite professional grooming. Another one has no teeth and is deaf w/ no knowledge of being loved or cared for much less having a full belly and a warm bed! How many of you have had your teeth cleaned this year? How many of you get hugs and kisses from those who love you and you love in return? IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! IT’S ABOUT THE ANIMALS! If you thought you could do better you should have started an animal shelter first!! Do you want to adopt MIss Rosie who needs $1,000 worth of dental work? who is also 75% deaf and 90% blind? NO? so why dont you put your money where your criticizing is? As a foster mom to some of the dogs that have passed through CARES I know first hand how much love and care these animals need… crave. they forgive even though they have been abused or left to fend for themselves…. what kind of people are you that there is no forgiveness in your hearts? only criticizim because you dont get your own way or you dont like somebody! I call BS!

    • Cuppa Joe says:

      Assume much, fostermom? Many of them might already be too busy taking care of the animals that cares doesn’t or WON’T. That said, good for you for helping your little one. As you know, it is both heartbreaking and rewarding. I just wouldn’t assume that you know what each and every one of these folks does in their personal lives. The common thread is that they think the Burien animals deserve better. If it were simply about not liking someone, there are plenty of other fights to fight.

    • Skeptical says:

      Foster Mom, I don’t think I could do a better job of managing an animal control agency, which is why I did not bid for the job. Whether Ms. George cares about the animals is not the issue. Whether she is competent to manage an animal control agency is the issue. She has not been honest with the citizens of Burien. She said the shelter would be ready to go in January or February. With a budget of $120,000, she could manage simple things like properly sealing the floors and choosing impervious materials to create enclosures. She has made bad choices, and she continues to make bad choices.

      Many of the people who are concerned about CARES have volunteered hundreds of hours of their own time to care for animals with other organizations. You are not the only one who has cared for an animal in need.

      Debra George should concentrate on one thing and do it well. Either she should manage a restaurant, manage an animal control agency, or manage the Farmers Market. I seriously doubt that anyone could do all three and do them well.

    • William Forest says:

      Foster Mom… I think we all want the same thing you want which is responsible professional animal control and care service in Burien..

      Burien CARES has failed and continues to fail to do that. There is an alternative that will provide all the care and services that a first class animal services organization supplies.
      That is KING COUNTY ANIMAL CONTROL.. I think everyone here who really cares about animals cannot disagree with that.. However in order for that to happen pressure needs to be put on the city manager who to date has been evasive and uncaring in his attitude towards this. Our only alternative is to put pressure on the city council to force Mr Martin to do the job he is being payed to do which is to MANAGE the City of Burien in a responsible way.

  9. Fred says:

    To Laura Stiles-

    As I recall from Facebook you are in a romantic relationship/engaged? to Ray Helms/CARES animal control officer. So you have a vested interest in trying to make CARES look good and help Ray keep his job. It’s clear you are defending your honey on this Blog by attacking Jack and Scott.
    You say that CARES has received donations but CARES reported to the City of Burien that it had received no donations. I suggest that you check with CARES about what they have told the City so that you don’t screw up their story. In April, 2012, the Public Heatlh inspected CARES and they failed their permit process. Public Health gave a very clear and detailed list of what needed to be corrected and it was much the same as the list of items that CARES failed on again on June 19,2012. CARES knew they had failed the permit process By June, knew they had not corrected the items cited in the April report and still had the nerve to stand up at the City Council meeting on June 18, 2012 and deceive the public and the Council by saying all was going well. It also appeared that the same city staff member who prepared the Kids and Cops power point presentation was the same person who prepared the CARES presentation. The style was the same and remember, Mike Martin knew the script for the presentation better that Debra George-who supposedly prepared the presentation. Mike Martin was aware that CARES was having serious problems with getting a permit. He failed to tell the public or the Council about that during the presentation. Additionally 285 animals are missing that were turned into CARES and they can’t be accounted for. This whole thing is sleezy and smells of public disception-no transparency.
    No other business in Burien would ever be cut this much slack by the Planning Dept./Scott Greenburg or Jim Bibby/ the reputed business sandwich board thief. Also there appears to be some sort of strange businees relationship between CARES and the pet daycare next door. That pet daycare is out of compliance with the city’s ordinance because it has animal waste products draining off of an impervious surface animal lot into the storm water system(Lake Burien and Miller Creek) instead of into a sewer. The city is aware of this and is still allowing this stinking situation. CARES should never have been awarded this contract. Debra George had no training and the people she hired who did have training-she fired. Those people she fired appeared before the City Council and spoke about the serious problems with CARES.Mike Martin and the Council ignored those speakers. It appears CARES still has its contract because of the buddy relationship Debra George has with Mike Martin.CARES should have its contract with the city cancelled. Brian Bennett/mayor get off your duff and do something about this situation!

    • Ghost of Maplewild says:

      Ohhhhhhhh…… SNAP!

    • Laura Stiles says:

      To “Fred” – First, if you wish to converse with me, you’ll need to provide your full real name, as I have done, so we are on equal footing.

      Yes, I am Ray Helms’ fiance. Does that mean I don’t have the right to an opinion on this issue? Actually, I can offer some insight because of my relationship. I know how much effort and time Ray and the other folks have put in to get this shelter up and running. I know about the times he has had to leave during family time to respond to an animal emergency call at any hour. I hear about the many pets who are returned to their owners and who are adopted out. I hear about the volunteers who donate their time and materials to help finish the shelter and foster animals.

      As for my concern about helping Ray keep his job, actually it would be a better situation for me if he had a job where he wasn’t working 60-hrs a week with no benefits. He could get another, “better” job, but he took this one because he wanted to make a contribution to his community. I too work at a non-profit for the same reasons. I’m not trying to make us sound superior, our jobs are our choice, but just to say that I don’t appreciate you making assumptions about my motivations.

      It is disheartening to read all the attacks and criticisms here on the blog. It would be great if that energy were directed at helping the shelter to succeed, rather than trying to sink it before it has even been launched.

      • Ms. Weaver says:

        Ms. Stiles and Mr. Helms
        I keep reading that CARES has adopted out animals.How can cares adopt any animal when King County Public Health Department has not issued any permits? They are not a real shelter. Mr. Helms, you truly don’t have a job as an animal control officer,if CARES has not recieved the permits need from the county. Maybe you need to get a real job not just a better one.

  10. Feralcat says:

    Fred cup of coffee????

    If cares has been doing things by the “book” everything should be accounted for. I bet they do NOT even have a copy of their application to the IRS to become a NON profit!!! ASK them that.

    Foster mom really you think we are that cruel and insensitive? We are not, as of right now cares is doing such a horrible job with the animal situation that they are the ones doing harm.

    When people have NO where to take their animals or an animal for what ever reason, guess what they just leave it or dump it some places else, usually in the Seattle animal control or KCAC area where the animal can actually get help. Also if cares had a VET ON STAFF, then the dental wouldn’t need to be $1000.00. plus the “shelter” can do its own vaccines, dewormings and s/n among other simple things that shelters should be able to do, with out sourcing it out,(which would save a lot of money) with the PROPER permits of course!!!

    To top off all the animal stuff off, the citizens of Burien have to deal with the political crap and the animals get stuck in the middle.

    I will be the first one to admit that $10,000.00 a month is NOT enough even for an established shelter much less starting one “up”, with completely inexperienced staff. Even Dr Leslies Kasper was NOT qualified other than she was a vet, not an animal control officer. Still not quite sure what mike martian was thinking when he made this decision.


  11. Erik Robbins says:

    I’m so confused. Is CARES closed or not? As of right now are they still able to adopt out animals? I see that they have animals on Petfinder and Craigslist posted as recently as 7/10. Also CARES website says that CARES is a non-profit 501 c(3) and they accept cash donations. Please clarify this for me.

  12. Feralcat says:

    There is just SOOOO much wrong with this cares crap.

    An outside person. Really mike? Going to hire some one from the work for burien and is your buddy, just like debra. Give me a break. What load of crap.

    Ironic thing. I missed the airing of the story why because I was dealing with a dying cat that, cares would NOT come out and help.


  13. Darla says:

    May I simply point out that we have a local business bettering our community, and at any given time, all business owners are doing the best they can at any given time. What have you done for your community today?

  14. Verde says:

    The part I don’t understand about all of this is that they seem to be starting from scratch and just doing their own thing, as though there’s nothing like this already. There are so many excellent shelters around the area that would serve as great examples of how to set something up properly (e.g. Homeward Pet in Woodinville), that it seems like these folks are just winging it.

    As they are running as a non-profit but have not filed a 990 or anything else with the IRS or posted any sort of reporting on their site, it’s hard to tell what’s going on with the financial side of things, too. There is not a lot of transparency.

    I don’t think the model is necessarily a bad idea, but from what I’m hearing from both sides, it does not sound like the folks who are doing this have any previous experience with a) running a shelter, or b) managing a non-profit (which is a tricky thing and requires a lot of learning). Perhaps this is where the community could get involved with CARES and, rather than just saying “we need KC animal control”. Can you work with the system you have? Are there folks who can help research best shelter practices and help implement them? Are there folks who can consult with them about non-profit financial management? And, are they willing to work with the greater community to address the complaints about them, as well? You all seem to have very personal stakes in this, so it would be awesome to see it come together and be positive rather than all the yelling and finger-pointing.

  15. Feralcat says:

    I have posted the king county public health report on cares on my website
    you don’t have to “like” me to read it.

    It is public knowledge/disclosure so it legal. Let’s see if they can fix what is SO wrong on this report before they open


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