LETTER: ‘I can see that I am not the first person disgusted with C.A.R.E.S.’

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I can see that I am not the first person disgusted with C.A.R.E.S, the apparent City sanctioned animal control and rescue group for Burien. Perhaps as more of us come forward, something will be done about them. Here is my story.

On Wednesday, January 16, I was driving away from a business near the Seahurst Post Office and saw a small Corgi type dog running frantically back and forth across 152nd in traffic. I pulled over and enlisted the help of two nice young students from St. Francis to catch the little guy. He had no tags and no one in the immediate area, including another car that stopped to help, knew where he belonged. I brought him straight to Burien Vet Hospital to have him scanned for a microchip but he didn’t have one. Brought him home, put a “found” ad on Craig’s list and called C.A.R.E.S. to report a found dog. Then I put the dog back in my car, drove back to Seahurst and discovered from the barista at Beans that there were people in two cars looking for the dog. I spent more than an hour cruising the neighborhood, leaving my contact info with all the really nice pedestrians in that area and trying to find the cars that were supposed to be out looking for the dog. (Thank you to the Barista and all those nice neighbors for promising to help me connect with the dog’s owner). When I got home, there was a message on my phone from the owner and I called him right away to come get his dog. There were, however, FOUR other messages on my machine from C.A.R.E.S., each more belligerent and accusing than the last, about how I was stealing someone else’s dog, that I had no right to keep him, etc, etc. I just erased the messages and went to wait for the owner to show up. THEN the C.A.R.E.S. person calls AGAIN and tells me I can’t steal this guy’s dog and that she is going to get the police involved. I think the C.A.R.E.S. person’s name was Amanda. Well, Amanda, I have news for you. People who want to keep stray dogs don’t usually advertise the fact that they have the dog or spend hours trying to find the owner. And this particular finder of a lost dog does not appreciate being threatened with the police and being yelled at on the phone in her own home. On top of that, the owner was not at all friendly when I opened the door to him, no doubt primed for a fight by Amanda. So the dog is home with his owners who never even said thank you and, as of this morning (Friday, January 18) I’ve had two more phone calls from C.A.R.E.S. trying justify what happened on Wednesday night.

My advice to anyone in the Burien area who rescues a stray cat or dog is to take it directly to the SPCA or to PAWS or some other reputable agency and let the owner do all the foot work to track it down. Skip C.A.R.E.S. Like you need someone to make you feel bad about rescuing a dog. And to those pet owners who might accidentally lose their pets, even temporarily, put tags on your animal and get it chipped. Then none of us will have to deal with C.A.R.E.S. (who doesn’t care).

– Cory Volkert

UPDATE: We reached out to Debra George, Executive Director of C.A.R.E.S., and here’s her response to this letter:

The first phone call we received on this was at 4.15 from Burien Vet. asking if anyone had called looking for a missing Corky. At 4:24 Cory called to say she was the one who had found a Corky and left her phone number. Cory at that time indicated she wanted to try and find the owner of the dog herself. At 4:48 the owner of the dog contacted CARES looking for his dog. We took his phone number then called CORY to see if it was ok that we gave out her number, which she agreed. The owner of the dog made several attempts calling Cory and she did not answer the phone. The owner called CARES also at 4:51, 5:04. 5:08. 5:21. 5:51 and at 6:03. The owner got agitated as he wanted to get his dog back. The police was brought up at the request of the owner of the dog as he felt he was not getting his calls answered in a timely fashion from Cory. The CARES employee got caught in the middle trying to make a connection between an upset owner and a resident who chose to go on her own to locate the owner. These situations can be avoided by simply bringing the animal to the shelter to be re-united with their owners in an efficient and timely manner.

We are thankful that in the end it all worked out and everyone made it home safely.

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30 Responses to “LETTER: ‘I can see that I am not the first person disgusted with C.A.R.E.S.’”
  1. Juli Hortelius says:

    Cory, I was one of the people walking our dog that night that you talked to. Im sorry that you were treated this way, because you were doing everything right. I know nothing personally, about CARES but have read nothing but bad things about them What a CRAZY reaction from a company who is suppose to be helping animals. Know that my daughter, husband and I appreciate your concern for the dog and reuniting it with it’s owner. Since the owner of the dog did not thank you, I will do it for him. “Thank You”.

    • Elizabeth says:

      I am so sorry you were treated this way. Over the years we have taken many a lost pup off the road and returned them eventually to their owners. Everyone has been extremely grateful to us for taking the time to keep their much loved animal safe until they could be reunited – we even had flowers and wine brought to us! I hope you will reconsider. As for CARES – this makes no sense as you were making their job easier and this should be addressed by their management and the City of Burien.

  2. Pam says:

    I would have done the same thing as you Cory. So, the owner of the dog allows him to run around freely and this is okay? I’m sure you saved that dog from being hit by a car. Even though the reaction from D.O.N.T.C.A.R.E was disgusting, you did the right thing. The owner of the dog (too bad, poor dog) probably thought you wanted a reward, so they acted like you weren’t doing them any favor. Thanks for the heads up about how it was handled.

  3. Crystal says:

    We’ve had a similar incident with C.A.R.E.s. I REALLY hope they treat the animals better than they have treated the people they come in contact with, but I doubt it. I hope that if I were to ever experience the loss of an animal, ever for a few hours, that someone like you holds onto them rather than take them to CARES.

  4. Jason DELEO says:

    Did the b-town blog ask for CARES side of this story or a comment from them? I would like to hear both sides of this story.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I completely agree with other posters here, you absolutely did the right thing and in fact I feel you went above and beyond what most people would probably do. It’s disgusting that you were treated this way and I am ashamed to have C.A.R.E.S in Burien as I too have heard nothing but terrible things about them. Shame on you guys and the owner for not being more responsible and tagging/chipping your dog and being grateful that someone saved him from a possible death! UGH!

  6. Lisa says:

    Wow. The owners are lame for a) not taking care of their precious dog; and b) for not showing appreciation to the rescuer who kept the dog from becoming a Corgi pancake. The action of the dim-witted CARES employee notwithstanding, can’t the owners process any thoughts themselves? How sad. News flash – most of us don’t even want to steal a dog. I mean, really.

  7. heidi says:

    i would like to know as someone who has also had a bad experience with C.A.R.E.S. what is it going to take to shut them down ? they are horrible uncaring people that i would never wish upon anyone to have to deal with- enough is enough 🙁

  8. seahurst says:

    To solve the problem of CARES, you first need to get rid of Mike Martin as City Manager. To get rid of Martin, you need to vote Joan McGilton, Rose Clark, and Brian Bennett out of office when they come up for reelection in the fall. To do that, three quality candidates need to step forward and run for Burien City Council. Otherwise, all the complaints about CARES are a waste of time.

  9. Lorrie says:

    Two weeks ago, on a monday I drove to CARES to drop off a donation we collected @ my daughters 3rd birthday, there were people in the shop but told me rudely that they are CLOSED! I sadi, really, do you want a donation or not? He opened the door a crack to snatch my bag. when I turned around there was a man who wasdressed in Mechanic uniform, obviously a worker from a shop on Ambaum, he was carrrying an eldderly weiner dog, he said he found it running around the busy street and didn’t want it to get hit. He had to get back to work so I told him I would take care of her. CARES again told me they were CLOSED and can’t help!! I drove to 5 corners VCA, they have been very helpful in the past, they scanned for a chip but there wasn’t one, they also told me they couldn’t take her since she was found in Burien and CARES has that contract!!!, after this first hour of frustration I then drove to the emergency vet on Ambaum, at first they were unwilling to take her, until I told her that CARES was closed and I can’t take the dog home ( which CARES suggested) because of my children’s allergies. They decided to help ( THANK YOU) luckily when I was filling out the paperwork the owner called and were reunited soon after I left. NO THANKS TO BURIEN CARES. and luckily I had 2 hours to spare that morning!!

  10. Saundra says:

    I saw a Corgi with that same description running lose a few weeks ago on 10th and 156th. It had no collar and my friend and I took a picture and followed it a bit to see if it might head home. It ran through a parking lot to an apartment complex and up a flight of stairs then sat by a closed door. We decided that it must live there and that the owner lets the dog out to potty on its own which is very irresponsible.

  11. Jason DELEO says:

    I’m glad that CARES had a chance to respond. The timeline seems to correlate. I hope that CARES retrains their employees not to threaten police action, and instead to treat both the owner and the finder with respect and CARE! I can’t see that threatening police action is any part of CARES mission, not part of their responsibility of the community- once they provided the owner the phone number of the finder, seems to me their job was completed.

    But I do agree- if I find an animal, I’m going to bring them to CARES and let them do the job that our tax dollars (and the license fee I paid faithfully since they were initiated) and follow up to ensure that all went well.

    And for the record- I don’t think an hour is unreasonable to get a call back- sounds to me like the owner of the dog is a jerk. If you love your dog that much, Put a license and a microchip on your pooch!

  12. Coverofnight says:

    I would’ve made sure that the dog owner saw me wave good-bye to him with one finger on each hand as he drove away with the dog.

  13. Carrie says:

    Am I the only one that finds it odd that the person from C.A.R.E.S. called the dog a “corky”? Is this an actual dog breed, or does this person know less about dogs than I do? And in the case of the latter, yikes!

    • Flashdog says:

      Yes, Carrie, you are correct — on both counts in my opinion. According to the Blog, the letter above was written by Debra George, the “director” of CARES. No, there is no such breed as a “corky”. The dog (according to the first letter writer) was a corgi, a small herding breed dog that originated in Wales. (Look it up on the internet — the corgi has a very interesting history.) Calling the dog a “corky” was apparently not a typo because Ms. George did it twice. That leads me to believe what you surmised is true — that Ms. George does not know much about dogs. If you look into Ms. George’s track record at CARES, you will find that she knows very, very, very little about dogs (or cats). Yet she is trying to fill the shoes of the Regional Animal Services of King County (the agency that we COULD have doing animal control). RASKC cares for something like 10,000 animals a year. They re-unite many of them with their owners and re-home the rest. All of the officers at RASKC are capable of recognizing and correctly spelling “corgi”.

  14. Barbara Levich says:

    I think it is hard for CARES to do a perfect job 24/7. I think they do a good job with the resources that they have. They have an excellent record for finding homes for abandoned dogs and they are a no-kill shelter.

    • Flashdog says:

      No, Barbara, they do not do a good job. Thus far they have somehow missplaced more than 285 animals. Those animals came into CARES and no one knows if they were re-homed, euthanized, died of neglect, escaped out the back door or what. They are simply unaccounted for. Ms. George has been heard telling people around Burien that CARES is “a no-kill shelter”. However, animals are being euthanized by CARES under questionable circumstances. A few months ago, a man posted a letter on the Blog about his experience trying to find a friend’s lost dog only to discover that CARES had killed it. I am very careful to keep my dogs safe, but if somehow one of my dogs was lost, I would be deeply thankful to someone like Cory (who wrote the letter above) for capturing my dog and returning her to me instead of letting her fall into the careless hands of CARES.

    • Feralcat says:


      THEY ARE NOT A NO KILL. What they do is turn the animal away. If by some grace of god they take the animal in, it has 3 DAYS that is all, This has been confirmed by several sources.

      cares is the most useless piece of “what ever you what to put there.”

      Seahurst is COMPLETELY correct on how to get rid of cares. I have been saying it all along.


    • Marianne says:

      Barbara Levich, Any shelter can call itself “no kill” simply by turning needy animals away (have nothing in the shelter to “kill”). CARES does this. I personally saw this happen. A woman had a cat crying on her porch on SW 128th for two weeks. CARES told her they would take it but would re-release it because “all cats and dogs have homes” (quote from Ray Helms).
      Cory, Like so many others, I too am sorry that you were treated so badly by CARES staff and the corgi’s owner. It is so wonderful to see that there are people who go to great lengths to help others, including animals. Like some of the other commenters, I would also like to say, “Thank you.”
      Mike Martin has said that he knows nothing about any problems at CARES. Please call, email, write his office if you have experienced any uncaring from CARES staff and volunteers.

  15. Joe Wills says:

    Dearest Cory,
    Thank you for taking care of this lost pup, don’t let the owner or NOBODY CARES change your kindness in helping animals that are lost. WE the citizen of Burien has to take care of our animals ourselves. Thanks in part to Mike Martin for not canceling the contract when the 3 original real animal people were pushed out and fired by Debra George.
    We can only hope that the tides will change come next elections, and we have people like Lucy, Jack and Bob who really care and will bounce Mike Martin out on his ear, and cancel the contract with CARES. Then we can go back to KCAC and know that our animals will be taken care of and citizens like you, when you try and help, won’t be chastised by the in-experienced lack of training and rude jerks at WEDONTCARES.
    Barbra, not sure what glasses you’re wearing, but you are WAY off base. You must be a Debra Supporter?? I am sorry. Get a clue, CARES is bad for our city and really bad for our animals. You state they are a NO kill shelter, tell that to my neighbor who your friends at CARES killed their dog!

    • Feralcat says:


      FYI Jack is PRO cares. He does NOT want to go back to kcac. It would cost to much “money”


      • Joe Wills says:

        Hi FCAT,

        Jack doesnt like CARES, he wants to have the same model that Des Moines has, he has stated this in the past.. Not a bad idea either….


        • Feralcat says:

          Well then he has FLIPPED, just as he has flipped on many other things. It is apparent that he sees what is going on with the comments on cares. hint hint hint.

          Lets just say in the council meetings he has said good thing.

          Again Des Moise is just as bad as Burien’s issue as far as animal control.


  16. same old story says:

    Really? Cares’ defense is that the owner called them several times? Man up and act like a professional intermediary. Tell the owner to stand down.

    It’s your JOB not to get caught in the middle. That’s what professionals do.

  17. Elizabeth says:

    Ms. George, As someone who has worked for a non profit which was underfunded and overworked I have tried in the past to defend CARES. I have also tried to be understanding that you are both new to animal care and CARES is a start up non profit that is bound to have some bumps in the road. However, I find your response to the finder of this dog totally inappropriate and very poor public relations. I think she deserves an apology for the action of your employee for getting the police involved over not having a response from the owner in the course of an hour. This was a totally inappropriate action and you need to take responsibility for this.

  18. jimmy says:

    wow a simple misunderstanding and a few missed phone calls and a bunch comments of overblown nonsence ok some one got upset over ther dog missing if you ever had a pet you should beable to understand this and in the heat of the movment when someone finds your dog then they don’t anwser there phone you can start to get a whole bunch thougts in your head it has nothing todo with mike martin or the city or any other cares employee the employee involed need’s a talking to if anything but not a bunch comments trashing cares over a simple misunderstanding ok people come on what the hell just becuse some don’t like cares or the peole that run is no reson to trash them everytime there’s a simple mistake ok we all make mistake in life if some one was to trash talk you for ever mistake you make in life how whould you feel yes i understand your not being pay by tax money but if you were so if we want burien to be a nice place (witch it kinda is already for the most part) why can’t we try to get along and understand that people make errors no matter the sitation if its cares or the city or someone else

  19. Betsy says:

    Ms. George,
    Please explain to the B-town blog what the reason was for the repeated phone calls to Cory, specifically the ones following the return of the dog. It would seem like harassment over a non issue, but we would like to hear your side of the story. Thank you.

  20. Verde says:

    I see a lot of talk on here about frustration with C.A.R.E.S. and the Burien city government. It upsets me that anyone treats care of living creatures as a business and not as something they are passionate about doing correctly and as a way to help make their community a better place. It also upsets me that a person in charge of an animal shelter obviously does not know what a Corgi is – it’s a small thing but it says a lot to me about their familiarity with dogs and their breeds and personalities.

    I like to do homework. Here are the tips from the national Human Society website about how to work on accomplishing change at a shelter. None of them will be quick solutions, but if people start doing these things, maybe something will start to give at C.A.R.E.S.

    Though not a Burien resident, we could end up as one sometime in the future, and I will not have these people be possibly responsible for the care of my pets should they escape the yard. I have no personal bone to pick here other than my concern over my pets.

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