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LETTER: ‘What Use is CARES?’

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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