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LETTER: ‘Two recent experiences with CARES has left me filled with disappointment’

Dear Editor,

Two recent experiences with Burien CARES has left me filled with disappointment and discouraged. The animals and residents deserve service, support, and compassion. None is provided by CARES.

About two weeks ago I went to one of our foster homes to pick up kittens. The kittens were ready for adoption. The foster mom was clearly upset. She had taken a very sick kitten from CARES the evening before for fostering. CARES told her it might die. Well, it did. I offered to take it to CARES since the foster mom was upset and I was going that way. Once at CARES, I was informed coldly, that the foster mom knew it might die (correct). Staff then wanted to know how I got the kitten. This seemed like an odd question as the kitten was dead and I was standing in the lobby at CARES. I am left wondering why a dying kitten was not euthanized or fostered by a CARES employee rather than being given to a brand new foster home. I then asked if CARES would follow up to see if there were other kittens or a feral mom cat to be trapped. The woman I spoke with immediately said that such work is not in their contract. She did give me the cross streets so I could try to follow up. Sometimes it is about more than your contract, especially when you work with those who don’t have a voice. It is about compassion.

Today I took a call from a Burien resident about a persistently meowing and frantic cat that has been at her doorstep for two weeks. The rescue I work with is full so I reluctantly referred her to CARES. The woman told me that she had already contacted CARES, who told her that they would take the cat and then turn around and drop it back at her house! I decided to go to CARES and ask them about this directly. The first thing I noticed was about five employees/volunteers hanging out eating pizza and food from a local fast food restaurant. When I relayed my story to the dark haired young woman, I was informed tha there are free-roaming cats and yes, that CARES would just release the cat. I told her that that is standard procedure with feral cats, to alter and release them to their neighborhood, but not with friendly, stray cats. I tried to explain that other area shelters with contracts, take stray animals.

I encountered Ray (Helms) on the way out of CARES. He agreed that CARES would drop the cat back in it’s neighborhood after they checked to see that it was healthy and altered. He told me that I could quote him when he informed me that he believed that all animals HAVE homes. CARES employees seem ignorant of the fact that unfortunately people move and leave their pets behind fairly often. He said the alternative is euthanizing after 72 hours. I told him he could quote me when I said, “Fine, then euthanize.” Sending a pleading, hungry cat back to live on a busy road is the same as euthanizing. Ray just won’t have the unpleasant job of ending the cat’s life.

I also found it interesting that Ray went on about having to pay rent and utililties on the building and that as per their contract CARES doesn’t have to even provide a shelter. I wonder why then are they doing it if it is so expensive?

So once again an experience with CARES has left me sad and disappointed for the animals and residents of Burien. I told the same to Ray.

Earlier this year, Mike Martin said at a council meeting that he would arrange an independent audit of CARES. I am wondering if this has been done? If so, what was found? If not, why not?

Thank you,
Marianne Hudson

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