LETTER: ‘Why does CARES seem to have more service calls than King County?’

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[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:]

Why does Burien CARES seem to have significantly more service calls than the rest of King County?

At the Burien Council City study session on March 25, 2013, the city staff gave a report on the animal care and animal control non profit (CARES) that the city pays for, $120,000 per year-see the city packet of the meeting. The city staff presentation packet seemed to skip a number of the points that should have been of concern to the city such as; 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. Also, if something happens to the animal control officer or the owner/director of CARES there is no one else available to take over the job and/or provide sufficient funding to keep CARES providing services to Burien. Debi Wagner pretty well summarized many of the issues on CARES needing correction in her article to this Blog-see

What was even more interesting were the peculiar statistics that the city staff showed on the screen that were not included in the packet. It seems that the cost to belong to the King County Animal Control Program (RASKC) is based on the number of service calls that happen in one year. Burien has such a peculiarly high number of service calls that it raises the question as to whether this number is correct or inflated to keep the Burien City Council from considering returning to King County for its services.

In Burien, CARES seems to have significantly more service calls then the rest of King County(the 48,073 people in Burien made 2,860 service calls to Cares in 2012,  while the 1,041,395 people in King County made 5,392 calls to the King County animal control in 2012). Something seems very strange about these numbers and the effectiveness of CARES. So let’s look at the stats-

Service Calls x1000  =  Service Calls / 1000 People
Population Served

CARES: 2860 x 1000 = 59.5 Calls / 1000

RASKC: 5392 x 1000 = 5.2 Calls / 1000

59.5 = 11.5

Burien has 11.5 times more service calls then the rest of King County per 1000 population.  This brings up obvious questions like:

  1. How does this compare to before when RASKC was Burien’s animal control?
  2. Why is Burien’s service call rate so high and King County’s so low?
  3. Is CARES correctly counting it’s service calls?
  4. Is CARES using the same definition for service calls as the rest of the county?
  5. Is the lack of training of the CARES staff (as noted by the evaluation author/Denise McVicker) causing an increased rate in service calls?
  6. Does it take CARES so long to respond to the initial call for service that it causes citizens to make extra calls about the same animal?
  7. Is the uncoordinated dead animal pick up policy ( noted by the evaluator) resulting in added service calls?
  8. Is the lack of a clear cat policy by CARES (noted by the evaluator) causing confusion for citizens and resulting in extra service calls? CARES does not serve cats and King County does. CARES is really only a dog animal care and dog animal control.

Assuming that a service call is defined as a citizen who is reporting an animal that needs to be picked up for whatever reason, what is the success rate?

Animal Intake = Success Rate Service Calls

CARES: 304   =  10.6%

RASKC: 4754  =  88.2%

88.2%  =  8.3

RASKC is 8.3 times more likely to get/put up the animal per call.

The Burien City staff and the City Council have an obligation to present clear data and an honest analysis of this data to the citizens for a service the citizens are paying for. The cost savings that the City Manager/Mike Martin was boasting about at the City Council Meeting may not be as great as he claimed when the data is thoroughly analyzed. Burien citizens and the Council should have the right to get a true comparison of what they are getting from CARES as well as what their tax payer dollars might be able to purchase from King County Animal Control (RASKC). Why does the City Manager constantly resist having someone from RASKC come and make a presentation to the City Council and the public about what services RASKC could provide and the cost? Call or email the Council with your concerns: [email protected]

– R. DeLorm

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5 Responses to “LETTER: ‘Why does CARES seem to have more service calls than King County?’”
  1. Btowngirl says:

    Exactly! Their numbers have never made sense. The only way those numbers could work is if they counted every general call that they get at the office as a call or service call.

  2. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    So let me get this straight. We have a report stating that CARES can not seem to keep proper records of our animals being taken in, but are spot on with the number of phone calls coming in…

  3. Flashdog says:

    Wow, R. DeLorm! What an EXCELLENT letter! Please could you run for Burien city council? Seriously — thank you for the time and thought you put into this excellent and enlightening analysis.

  4. Marianne says:

    Thank you R. DeLorm- When this new information was presented at the Council meeting/CARES audit report on March 25th, it also caught my attention. I believe Mike Martin also knew it would be questioned because he said, “Burien demands a lot from Animal Control” when the information was presented. When I questioned the ratio of service calls to the number of Burien residents in comparison with the number of service calls to the over 1,000,000 residents that RASKC serves and pointed out that it makes the residents of Burien look “high maintenance,” Mike Martin chuckled. The one thing I missed, which R. DeLorm caught, was the question of whether or not CARES service call numbers are being artificially inflated so that it makes RASKC seem too costly for the City of Burien. Lucy K. did ask that RASKC give a presentation to the City Council as CARES contract expires in 2014.

  5. Fred says:

    To R.DeLorm-

    Excellent analysis of the data about the strange number of service calls in Burien. Yup, keeping that number high creates the false allusion that CARES is a good deal cost wise. It also gives Mike Martin the excuse not to ask King County to come and do a presentation to the citizens and Council. Thanks for writing this and asking the right questions.

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