LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘CARES Not Better than King County Animal Control’

Print This Post  Email This Post

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

Based on the Burien CARES Program Evaluation in the Council Work Session packet for tonight (download PDF here), CARES is not head and shoulders better than the King County Animal Control Program-see pages 25-36 of the online packet.

For the last year and a half, the Burien City Manager/Mike Martin has been standing up before the public and declaring that CARES (provider of Animal Care and Animal Control for Burien) is head and shoulders better than the King County Animal Control program. He has repeatedly made this statement at public meetings, at annexation meetings and to the media. Denise McVicker, the Deputy Director of the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County, has just completed an evaluation of CARES and here are some of her findings in the completed report that I believe will be glossed over tonight at the work session of the Council.

1. The staff is inadequately trained.

2. There is no coordinated mechanism for the pick up and reporting or description of dead animals in Burien so that the citizens looking for their animals can be apprised of information.

3. Requests for services as well as what animals have been picked up or surrendered is not being logged into a database for responsible, accurate and effective service to citizens and animals. It appears the staff hasn’t taken the time to learn all aspects or be trained in the data program (Pet Point) they are using. This is perhaps why CARES was missing 285 animals last year per Council member Edgar’s concern.

4. Should something happen to the current animal control officer (Ray Helms), or if he is away there is no backup staff with full training to cover for him.

5. Animal enclosures, runs, floors, the animal control vehicle, litter boxes, feeding dishes and the quarantine area have not been being wiped down and rinsed correctly. These areas and items used around the animals haven’t been disinfected.

6. Chemicals for cleaning have been improperly handled and mixed by the staff and volunteers which poses a danger to the humans as well as the animals.

7. Ventilation and disease control procedures for some of the areas does not seem to meet the standards of the SOC document which was published by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians and is the gold standard for shelter animal care.

8. The cat enclosures are not built of ideal, sustainable materials for long term disinfection.

9. The quarantine room is not adequate to handle multiple animals, aggressive animals. It lacks security.

10. There are no written protocols for the handling of dangerous and potentially dangerous animals.

11. CARES doesn’t regularly accept stray cats and appears not to have a policy of how cats will be cared for. It was promised to Council members that cats would be taken in at CARES and it is not happening.

12. None of the dogs or cats are vaccinated upon intake. The practice of vaccinating upon intake and maintaining a clean environment are paramount for animal health and human protection.

13. There is currently no standard set for entering of animals into the data base.

14. Animals entering the shelter are not being identified with any kind of tag or collar for identification while there.

15. Currently animals that have bitten or acted aggressively to humans and domestic animals are being adopted to the public. This creates a huge liability on the placement agency and the contracting city for lawsuits.

16. An evaluation assessment program is not in place to determine how re-homing of animals should be handled.

17. Volunteers do not have adequate training and are too young for conditions at CARES.

18. Notification and recording of donations and gifts is lacking.

19. There is a need for documentation on the level of training the volunteers have received.

20. The Animal Control Officer needs to be professionally dressed.

21. Communication with citizens and donors needs to improve.

22. There appears to be no yearly performance evaluations of staff.

23. There is not a process to evaluate and improve the contact.

24. Data on the operation of the shelter is not readily available or transparent to the public.

25. The “Infection Control Policy” should be updated to comply with national shelter guidelines.

26. There are no standards set for the standards of care in the shelter in the contract between Burien and CARES.

From my own personal experience, the accounting and financial records that CARES submits to the city are confused, disorganized and difficult to follow regarding fees collected or dismissed, donations, revenues taken in and expenses and fees paid out.

Citizens were correct when they complained on this Blog and to other media sources that all was not well with CARES. The City Manager and the Council elected to ignore citizens for over one year. From this evaluation report, it appears that the contract on CARES will have to be re-negotiated and will require a commitment of considerable financial resources from Burien taxpayers to remedy many of the problems identified by this evaluation. I suspect from the contents of the Work Session packet, that Mike Martin/City Manager will try to downplay the findings of this report to protect his friend Debra George and his idea for cheap animal control. However, should the contract for CARES be re-opened, then I believe that Burien citizens should have the right to see a presentation from King County Animal Control as one of the options for animal care and control in Burien. Citizens should be allowed to compare the continuing costs of upgrading CARES to minimum standards with King County’s superior services/facilities. Mike Martin has not been honest and transparent on this issue of animal care and animal control in the city. Contract your City Council members at 206-248-5508 or City Council Burien <[email protected]> to voice your concerns.

– Debi Wagner

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our 70,000+ monthly Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]

Print This Post  Email This Post


22 Responses to “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘CARES Not Better than King County Animal Control’”
  1. heidi says:

    what is it going to take to get proper animal services provided in burien. i say i’d rather have no service than the TRUELY POOR NON-SERVICE from c.a.r.e.s.i have complained since the first encounter i had with them months ago and found i am far from the only upset person about this place…………..i haven’t heard or read one positive thing about them..

  2. Mykal says:

    What a disgrace.

  3. PanderBear Jack says:

    Copy/paste the stuff that needs improvement yet leave out the PAGES and PAGES of the rest.

    Where are bob, Lucy, and jack on this? They haven’t said word one. They’re just as culpable as “the rest of em”.

    Or maybe they don’t speak up because it’s not 1/10th as bad as you’re making it out to me.

    Improvements needed? Sure. Gonna complain? Get off your keyboard and volunteer!

    • Eaton B.Verz says:

      Pander, Mike Martin said to remind you of your lunch appointment with him at The Mark today! It’s on Debra!!! Enjoy, Eaton

      • PanderBear Jack says:

        Speaking of king trolls…

        Careful eaton debi or Fred or John p will yell at you for not contributing and trolling the site.

        Get ‘me!!! Oh wait you agree with Easton’s message… Lucky for you eaton.

  4. watching says:

    The writer of this screed cherry picked and waxed “outraged” over items that the evaluator didn’t find as terrible as she seems to feel they are. Anyone can read the packet. I did, and I don’t find the city manager culpable of a lack of transparency here. The evaluator didn’t come down on CARES nearly as much as this writer did. Methinks she does complain too much. She and her fellow “citizens” have been complaining for a year (God knows, we’ve had to listen to them over and over and over again), but this citizen likes CARES, has had a good experience with them and appreciates the city continuing their contract! And, FYI, so do my neighbors.

    • Marty says:

      Thanks for spelling it out Debi!

      Obviously there is a lot of room for improvement with the Animal Control we currently have in Burien.

      I don’t think glossing it over serves anyone who has animals or cares about animals, it just identifies the post as part of the city managers pr team.

      I believe the evaluator comes from a kill shelter so this report with so many areas that are not up to snuff is underscored. Kind of like a republican investigating a republican and even so they still found all of these issues that need attention and will probably end up costing the taxpayers more money than what was originally budgeted for animal control on the cheap.

    • Flashdog says:

      In other words, Watching, none of the 285 animals that CARES has absent mindedly lost was an animal that you or any of your neighbors deeply loved?

  5. Jennifer says:

    Ms. Wagner,
    I can appreciate that you read the evaluation on the city website http://www.thecityofburien.org However, you picked and chose what you wanted to include in your letter to blast C.A.R.E.S. I urge people to do your own research rather than rely on letters such as this for all your facts.

    • Eaton B.Verz says:

      Well, I just finished reading the evaluation and what it said to me is that CARES continues to perform poorly. Ms George told us that she had the people with the expertise and experience to do a good job for the animals and citizens of Burien.I’m not sure I would even call CARES adequate. Ms George has had plenty of time to fix these problems but they still persist. Time to move on. Go with people who know the business.

    • Feralcat says:


      NO Debbie did not “hand” pick anything. It was copy/pasted, she actually left out the worst/best about about Ray being denied access to WACA . WHY?

      Denis even recommended him riding along with other animal control officers who actually know what they are doing and visit other shelter to see how they could “possibly” run cares better.

      Floor for the dog runs and general floor are not being properly disinfected. The sink where the dishes and litter boxes are in adequate.

      The quarantine room has some unique challenges LOL. It’s a joke. OMG Denise even confirmed my issues with the cats “kennels” the sealant will eventually where down and not be properly sealed.

      Did you read the part about animal intake it is miserable for cats in general. FAF was told by Ray that they do not take in cats and tell the public just to take the cat back and even Denise says that doesn’t work.

      Denise says: I would recommend that the code and practice of NOT taking in stray cats to be re examined and that a solution be found to server the animal and public.

      The only reason they have a “successful” adoption rate is because they turn mostly cats away. Or deem a dog a danger and it is killed.

      FYI for an dog that has bitten people, first many questions must be asked, but I guess if you actually have a clue as to what you are doing.

      Cats: generally the cat was abused or declawed which is a very common. AS for ferals no they do NOT attack and only bite when you have cornered them.

      I have NO issues with animals being put to sleep if they are deemed aggressive.

      Certain council members and MIKE martin are going to try and bury this.

      Lucy HAS never supported cares ever. Bob before he was elected did not and still does not support cares. Jack Block has flip flopped a few times. You can see it on former city council meetings. The other members follow mike.

      Again until new council members are elected and mike martin is fired cares will NOT be going anywhere.


      • Jennifer says:

        I get that you all don’t like C.A.R.E.S and in fact much of the city council. I just wanted to point out that is important for the public to do their OWN research and not base thier opinions on letters that are someone elses opinion and are often one sided.

  6. Flashdog says:

    This looks pretty comprehensive to me. TWENTY-SIX very serious concerns should be enough to close this awful place down. For those of us who have been watching “CARES” since its beginning, not one thing on that list is a surprise. In fact, as one person observed, many of these 26 things have been pointed out by people posting to this blog in the past. SO — numerous citizens have observed very obvious problems with this animal control experiment, an impartial evaluator from a genuine animal control agency took a look and found the same problems, no one disputes that this ghastly place has LOST 285 animals (that has to be a record), animals are not being vaccinated (which means heartbreak for owners when the pet they get from CARES dies of a totally preventable disease), aggressive animals are being adopted out as pets to unsuspecting people…….. What does it TAKE to end this? It is inevitable that there will be some terrible disaster like someone horribly injured by a dog CARES should never have sold as a pet or an outbreak of some contagious disease sweeping through the “shelter”. No doubt that will finally bring this bad idea to a finish, but I would like to skip that tragedy. I encourage anyone who has or loves animals to BURY the city council in angry e-mails about this. Share Debi’s letter on your facebook page and anywhere else you can. She’s right — the city will have re-negotiate CARES’ contract. DEMAND that the contract be cancelled and we return to the Regional Animal Services of King County that has served this area so well for so many years.

  7. Feralcat says:

    Finally the cat is out of the bag.

    I really hope everyone reads the report in FULL.

    All I can say is that for those of us who were against cares all along have been proven right.


  8. Marianne says:

    Thank you for posting the link to the report and taking the time to summarize the lengthy list of concerns.

  9. PanderBear Jack says:

    Those opposing cares have taken two tracks. Not sure if the audit would go their way they sought to discredit the auditor. It was a constant railing against her on this site. Even the fact that Martin chose her was setup as a weapon against anything this person might say.

    26 deficiencies were pointed out and the author of this letter chose the worst of the worst.

    Question for debi: have you volunteered to help the shelter, no, our shelter? At least until you can kill the shelter? It seems that you’re just interested it burning the place to the ground, so to speak, probably for political gain. It would seem that you have no care for the animals because if you cared for them you would be doing everything in your power to help WHILE trying to change over to king county.

    You have also written letters saying that “Burien is going broke”. How, exactly, do you intend on paying for king county? Are you intending raise taxes, if elected?

    Since , as you say, Burien is going broke there is no other option. Is a vote for debi a vote for higher taxes?

  10. PanderBear Jack says:

    Looking at the “narrative” even more the blame is being put squarely on the “majority ” and Martin.

    Yet the “people’s” majority (the three stooges – block, krakowiak, Edgar) were silent. Where is their outrage and why are the anti-Martin people not hold their feet to the fire?

  11. Feralcat says:

    It was been said before that Jack Block would rather pay for another police officer instead of going back to KCAC. Well I am sorry to say ONE cop is NOT going to make a damn bit of difference in the crime rate in Burien.

    I absolutely believe spending that money towards KCAC would benefit the animals.

    When cares first came to be the “animal control agency” Jack Block was totally supportive of this and has been. It is all in this city council meetings. It has not been until recently that he has flipped. As for lucy and bob they are the minority and mike has a lot of power, why do think he still has NOT been fired. Not to hard to figure that out.

    In/on other issue on the city mike martin’s name is always coming up and NOT in a good way.

    So do not blame lucy or bob.


    • PanderBear Jack says:

      I agree Jackie boy is a flip flipper. Whatever it takes to win a vote !

      Lucy and bob should have said something against CARES if they really don’t like it. All I got from the study session was that they’d like to compare COSTS between king county and cares. If Bob and Lucy really agreed with this letter and line of thinking they should have raised it as an issue at the study session!

      Other than that I think Jerry had the most to say about the situation in that we’re underfunding CARES.

      • Marty says:

        I think that anyone that is praising Jerry Robison who is Mike Martins #1 crony and supporter is a very good indicator that their credibility is more than a little suspect.

  12. Btowngirl says:

    Question for the residents of Burien. Is the discover Burien a paid position? If so then That’s a conflict of interest for Debra George and she can not do both CARES and discover Burien.

Share Your Opinion

By participating in our online comment system, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our comment policy.

...and oh, if you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!