LETTER: ‘What Use is CARES?’

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Dear Editor –

What use is CARES?

Once again I have an incident where I am told that what to me should be part of the responsibility of CARES is brushed off as “Not part of their contract”.

On Thursday August 4, 2012 at around 11:30 pm after listening to the dog (pit bull) next door barking for over 4 hours I called the non-emergency number for the police department. The operator informed me that unfortunately, due to it being an animal related call, I needed to call CARES. She empathized with me as they hate to have to refer people to CARES due to the lack of response from them. She could hear the dog barking through the phone and I was inside the house with the windows closed. I called and left a message on CARES phone about the incident. The dog continued to bark until nearly 1:00am.

On Friday, August 5, 2012 at 4:02pm I got a call on my answering machine from CARES asking me to call them back. I called back when I got home from work at about 4:30 (no caller ID on outgoing phone calls unfortunately) and spoke with the girl who told me that barking dogs and animal noise complaints are not part of their contract with the city and they don’t have to respond to calls like that. I explained to her that this has been an ongoing issue with them. The owners let the dog bark for hours and don’t do anything about it. Last summer, I had fallen in my back yard and was injured, none of my family could hear me yelling for help over the dogs (they had 2 at that time) barking. The neighbors were outside at the time and made no effort at all to quiet the dogs. They never do. Every time I have called CARES for any assistance with this dog including when the dog was being beaten with the metal end of a hose by the neighbors, they don’t do anything about it. The woman from CARES told me that she would have the animal control officer call me. He did so at 5:28 the same night. When I talked to him, he informed me that the only thing they are responsible for contractually is responding to animals in danger or animals that are a danger and he was not going to do anything about my complaint. I asked him then why nothing was done after the incident on June 30, 2012 and he blew me off. I finally was so frustrated I hung up.

We had just arrived home after a long day of working and saw a note on the front door. We don’t use the front door regularly on the weekends so we went to see what it was. The neighbor was playing with the dog in their front yard. No leash, no control and the yard is only partially fenced. As we were standing there, a woman walked down the sidewalk with her dog on a leash beside her. We heard the neighbor start yelling “Nina No. Nina Come.” and start running after his dog. She ran out onto the sidewalk and attacked the dog on a leash. He followed after her, grabbed her and threw her to the ground in the street where he started punching her. Without a word to the lady who’s dog had just been attacked, he grabbed his dog and went to the back yard where we heard him continue to beat her and hear her yelping in pain. I went to the lady who had just been attacked and made sure that she was ok. I gave her one of my cards so she could contact me if she needed to and let her know that I was going to make a report to CARES and the police department. She called me the next day to let me know that when she washed her dog to get the feces off (not sure which dog it was from) she discovered that her dog had in fact been injured and took it to the vet for treatment. The neighbor’s dog continued to limp on 3 legs for the next 2 weeks and I am pretty sure that she was never looked at by a vet for her injuries. I did not get a call from CARES until July 3, 2012 which was almost 4 days later. They gave me a case number (for the first time ever!) and seemed very dismissive of what happened. As far as I could tell, nothing was done. The note turned out to be from another neighbor who had put it on our neighbor’s door telling them that the dog had been barking for hours and that they were tired of listening to it. The neighbors thought I had put it on their door so they brought it back to me. They said that the dog had been barking about the fireworks going on when in fact I had not heard ANY fireworks since I had been home and had not really heard any in the days prior to this.

We also had an incident shortly after CARES took over animal control. On June 17, 2011. We heard the neighbor’s dog barking and she would not shut up. I asked my boyfriend to go yell at her because she will listen to him but rarely to me. He called me to come outside and help him as there was a cat at our back door. I went out to find a very thin, filthy cat who was just purring up a storm at being found. She was just a lover. She was in very bad shape and had ear mites. She was obviously elderly and we are pretty sure that she was either blind or nearly so. I am pretty sure that she would not have survived another night out there. We put her in the bathroom with food and water, lots of warm blankets and waited to see if she would make it through the night. We figured if not, at least she would be comfortable for her last few hours. We found the number for King County Animal Control and contacted them. That is when we found out that CARES had just taken over and we needed to call them. We called and left a message. The cat survived the night and seemed to be perking up a bit. Every time someone even looked at her, let alone petted her, she started purring very loudly. She was obviously someone’s pet that had been either lost or dumped. We searched all over to find any reports of a lost cat anywhere with no results. I drove down to CARES facility as after 4 days, we had still not gotten any calls back. I went in and was told that they could not house cats, that they did not have their permits yet so to take her to King County Animal Control or the Seattle Humane Society. I tried to take her to the King County shelter in Kent but because CARES had sent out a letter to everyone telling them that CARES was handing all animal control (I saw the fax. The King County officer showed it to me) they could not take it. I went back to CARES the next day where I was told that I was an idiot to have told them the truth about where the cat was found. They told me that I should have lied to them. I asked them what I should do now with the cat. I was told that they did not have to shelter animals and they didn’t care. The woman who I spoke with told me to just put an ad on Craigslist and get rid of it that way. I did my best for this poor cat and I really hope that the person who responded to the ad gave her a loving home.

In closing, as far as I can tell, CARES who is supposed to be in the business of caring for abused, neglected animals in our community is doing the exact opposite. Their website states the following: “CARES is a non-profit 501 c(3) Corporation and our mission is to encourage responsible pet ownership and enforce the animal laws and ordinances in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of people and animals in Burien.” REALLY? As you can see from the 3 incidents above, They sure do not seem to be doing that. I ask again, What use is CARES?

– Shere’e Robinson

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25 Responses to “LETTER: ‘What Use is CARES?’”
  1. heidi says:

    I say GET JESSE JONES from KING 5 news on this……..and start writing to all the officials in the city of BURIEN……

  2. Lindsay says:

    Ms. Robinson,
    I am so sorry about the trouble you’ve been having with Burien animal control (CARES). I sympathize very much. On the 4th of July we had an incident where a small dog ran into our yard. It was absolutely terrified because the fireworks and because it was so scared, it was being somewhat aggressive with us—snapping and growling when we tried to come close to it. Eventually, we managed to convince it that we weren’t going to hurt it and we were able to get it contained in a dog crate. We then called CARES, which was closed. It is my opinion that on the 4th of July—a day any animal lover will tell you is Hell on pets—CARES should’ve been easily available and ready to help out with animal distress calls. Eventually we were able to find the poor dog’s family and return it, but it took CARES 3 days to get back to us. Then they wanted to know if the problem ‘had been resolved.’

    I have never been so disappointed with the City of Burien. I understand that our little town is in pretty serious finical trouble, but there are some areas in which the Citizens of Burien are not willing to take shortcuts. Animal control is at the top of that list. Unfortunately, no matter how many of us go to City Council meetings, no matter how many of us write to the City or write on various blogs, our elected and appointed officials are not listening. Perhaps what we need to do is organize a formal protest of CARES, maybe at City Hall or in front of the Animal Shelter. Something to really get the City Council’s attention. We have to make them listen to us somehow. Your story proves that it’s not just a matter of CARES being under-funded. This is an example of an aggressive and abused animal that CARES, as an animal control organization, has the responsibility of addressing. The fact that they refuse to do so is a violation of the trust our City has invested in them. Unfortunately as long as they are the cheapest option, the City Council will continue to ignore their obvious shortcomings. And that’s something that the Citizens of Burien cannot afford to allow.

    • Flashdog says:

      This becomes even more incomprehensible, Lindsay, now that the city of SeaTac has signed a contract with Regional Animal Services of King County for a very good animal control and sheltering program for LESS money than Burien is paying for “CARES”.

  3. Laurie says:

    It seems the writer of this letter has had an unfortunate experience with CARES which has been working very hard to get up and running the last few months on a shoestring and mostly volunteer budget. It also changed hands earlier in the year I believe and the current staff have had a Herculian amount of work to do to get this agency going.

    My husband and I found two little dogs running around on Des Memorial Highway in Burien awhile back, we took them to our vet who in turn helped us contact CARES. Not only was the staff at CARES very helpful (they had seen the little dogs before) they were already setting the wheels in motion to help reunite them with their elderly owners before we left the building.

    I think CARES needs the opportunity to get their house in order. I think animal abuse is still a matter for the police especially when an attack supposedly took place. I think the root of this problem is pet owners not animal control. I also think that the writer of this letter should find a more constructive way to get through to City Hall of the need for police and CARES to work together to solve this problem and not continuallly rank on CARES for doing what they can in the face of no money and no interest in helping.

    Have you considered volunteering for CARES or offering help in the form of donations and advocacy?

    • Shere'e says:

      Yes, I have given them donations and considered volunteering until after the 3rd time of being blown off by them. They made it pretty clear that they were not interested in anyone helping out so I gave up.

      I agree that CARES needs the opportunity to get thier house in order, but, shouldn’t a year be long enough?

    • John Poitras says:

      None of these problems would exist if we contracted with King County animal control services or on the other hand if we had a contract with CARES that was more comprehensive and covered these animal control issues.

      We have been paying these people $10K a month for over a year now and they apparently still don’t have their act together.
      No amount of ‘volunteers” is going to be able to solve the barking dogs, animal cruelty and loose animal problems we currently have in Burien and if we annex Area Y theirs also.
      We need a PROFESSIONAL ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER who is authorized and capable of performing this very important service which CARES has been a complete failure at.

  4. Skeptical says:

    $120,000 a year is not “No money.” many nonprofits perform their functions by raising all their own money. CARES told us, a year ago, that they would be supplementing the $120,000 per year by raising more in donations, the way nonprofits should. How much have they raised? We don’t know. Any nonprofit should be able to tell potential donors how much they have raised and where that money goes. CARES has done neither.

    Also, they can and should be raising money by levying fines. Supposedly, it is a $500 fine for having your dog off-leash. If irresponsible pet owners are the problem, let them be part of the solution by supporting better animal protection through the fines they pay. If you told drivers of automobiles that they would never, ever have to pay a fine no matter how reckless they drove, it would be mayhem. Telling animal abusers and negligent pet owners that they will never see any kind of law enforcement is not the way to change things.

  5. Lisa says:

    Sorry for being remedial here, haven’t been following this issue much…I guess I’m just wondering why, if CARES is not able to get “up and running”, with little budget and staffing, why are they allowed to take the reins on animal control in Burien? Just judging by the length of time they take to call citizens back, that seems pretty unacceptable – and then, turns out they can’t be of any assistance most of the time? I don’t blame the author for questioning why they exist.

  6. huh? says:

    Shere’s: #1 priority…get that poor dog removed from those people…whatever it takes.

    • Feralcat says:

      HUH? then what would they do with it. If the dog is aggressive who would foster that. ALL pit rescues are full, certainly can NOT take it to cares, they certainly are NOT qualified to do anything.

      As far as what it “takes” well those people can make threats on them. This is where “animal control officer” is to take action.

      So like I have said in past posts something very bad is going to happen and it already has to a poor helpless dog that has been beating and nothing is being done about it. So much for “cares”


      • CARES lives on says:

        Uh-oh, this thread must have been cooling down and feral cat CAN`T let that happen,
        Keep that big wooden spoon in the cauldron until it breaks cat.
        We all know that cares is your achilles heel. Maybe you should try offering to help or make a suggestion instead of chastising it constantly.
        It appears you are failing in your endeavor to close it but I`m sure you have plenty more poison to toss around. I kind of feel sorry for you. But I do love the little kid approach,
        “I told you so!! *lol*

        • Feralcat says:

          I can not shut it down, I know that Mike Martin will never allow that. Even though the contract is being broken on a daily basis.

          Even OP post clearly states that cares is NOT even following the contract and anyone can request the contract and see that.

          Give suggestions, that is laughable. they do not care again finally people are “seeing the light”. cares is not working.

          So ‘cares lives on’ how can you explain that they have been lying to the citizens of Burien about being non profit well guess what you can NOT on this one.

          I guess when the “animal control” officers is asking one my volunteers how she does it, (they met each other at the feral cat project) my volunteer says she just gets it done.

          You can insult me about my little kid comment all you want. I just know that when citizens are calling me or FAF for help we actually get it done AND return phone calls.

          I will admit I can not do much with dogs, (as I am not a shelter lol) but I can get the help and do what I can to help the situation.


  7. Julie says:

    The will of the people of Burien is to bring back KCAC.How do we do this?I am not sure but maybe it would help to get a petition going and bring it to the city council meeting and or try to get the voters to vote on it.If all else fails don’t vote for the current city council members vote them out of office.How many more people need to complain before something is done?

  8. sallie tierney says:

    It comes down to there being zero animal control or enforcement of laws related to animals in the city of Burien. Dogs run free on our street and nothing is done. Last month one of them ran in front of my car and was hit because its owner didn’t see fit to obey the law.

  9. Marianne says:

    Forget the barking for a minute, the dog being beaten needs help. If CARES won’t help (probably not in their contract) maybe a report to Pasados? Can you please give cross streets so the community can keep eyes and ears open to possibly save the beaten dog?

    • Flashdog says:

      Although Pasado’s, on their website and in all sorts of media interviews, claims to have some sort of authority to dictate what people do and do not do with their animals, Pasado’s has NO authority of any kind. In fact, in their pursuit of their “animal cops” fantasy, they have actually caused problems with some important cruelty investigations. As a result, animal abusers were not brought to justice because Pasado’s compromised the evidence to the point were there was no way to get a conviction. We have plenty of animal control problems without Pasado’s. Ms. Weaver is correct. Although CARES is supposed to be the animal control agency for Burien, we are still in King County. Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) is still THE enforcement agency for animal cruelty cases. Get in touch with the shelter sergeant at the RASKC shelter in Kent and find out what has to be done to bring a genuine, authorized cruelty investigator into this case.

  10. Ms. Robinson – Has anyone helped your neighbor’s dogs yet?

    • Shere'e says:

      Not as of last night. I have consulted an attorney and am going to try going through the courts to get something done since CARES will not do anything.

      • Ms. Weaver says:

        Does CARES have to follow king county laws? I bet there are laws about animal abuse, make CARES actually do what there name says. Care!!

      • Karen says:

        Have you considered contacting a rescue group for help or resources? You mentioned the dog is a pit bull. Many problems stem from abuse and neglect of these dogs. A local pit bull group may be able to help. I know of Bullseye Dog Rescue: http://www.bullseyerescue.org/about.htm. While they can’t replace CARES, they may have some ideas on how to help that poor dog. I hope someone gets it a better home.

  11. Joe Wills says:

    Once again (I don’t really) CARES does nothing! They won’t help our animals! They won’t even lift a finger to help, but yet they need donations, Volunteers? For WHAT?? Give them time? They have had a year to get their act together! Debra George and her make-shift non- for profit need to go!! We need to contract with KCAC and get a real ANIMAL CONTROL in our town. STOP wasting our money. The sad thing is as long as Mike Martin is at the helm; the city council won’t do anything. We keep wasting 10K per month on these Bozo’s.

  12. John says:

    Just insane. I’ve seen this topic come up time after time and you all know the city council knows about these complaints and does nothing about it. It’s pretty obvious they don’t care and don’t want to know and follow the wishes of the citizens of Burien. Isn’t that why they are there to listen to its citizens and try to support their wishes. Well it seems to me when it comes to CARES the wishes of the City of Burien are landing on deaf ears.

  13. Feralcat says:

    Even WORSE yet. THEY TRULY ARE NOT A 501 3 C. They have been lying this WHOLE time. I have a letter from the IRS stating that they are not a registered 501 3 c, nor have they filed any paperwork to become one.

    To see it go to my Facebook page: for feral cat assistance and trapping.

    On top of them just being plain stupid in the “efforts” of trying to run a “shelter” they are FRAUDS.

    FYI it is not so much the council members it is Mike Martin he is the total issue and until he gets fired there is NOTHING the citizens can do. The contract with cares is up in 2013 so we are screwed till then. Basically if you find an animal I tell people to call humane society or straight up LIE and find some one that lives in the KCAC or Seattle animal shelter and have that person take the animal to the shelter. YEP I said lie there are NO options for burien at least the animal will be properly cared for.


    PS again i told you so.

  14. wheels says:

    You can look up CARES at the IRS. They are not a registered 501 c 3. They have not applied to be a 501 c 3. Anyone can look this up. On their web page, and on Facebook, they are asking for donations claiming they are a 501 c 3. They are committing fraud. It would only take ten minutes to submit an application, but they have chosen not to. Debra George has been caught in lie after lie, and she keeps saying everything would be okay if the community would support her. It’s time for the community to ask her to tell the truth.

    If records are kept on every animal that CARES takes a call on, then show us those records. Show us records of all the donations made so far, and where that money went. I would like to see minutes of the meetings of the Board of Directors. I would like to see the treasurer’s report.

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