by Jack Mayne The woman who reviewed Burien CARES last year told the City Council on Monday (July 7) that there have been many improvements during the past year. Denise McVicker, the deputy director of the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County, concluded Burien CARES passed muster a year ago, but needed many fixes and additions of equipment and procedures. When she began her visit this year, McVicker said “it was apparent pretty quickly the number of improvements I saw… .They have a uniform, they answer the phone professionally, they answer it quickly, they were very professional in their phone answering while I was there reviewing them this time. They called people back quickly.” Shelter field practices were “improved immensely” and noted that changes she suggested last year in the way that animals are housed and cared for were made along with improvements in the maintenance of the shelter buildings and the kennels. McVicker also said the staff has improved the use of computer programs and the material it covers. She said last year there was only one person to manage the shelter, to do outside patrol and to care for the animals, but a second person has been trained and added to the staff so that the animal control officer, Ray Helms, can take a day off or be sick. CARES also had Helms and the new hire attend and graduate from the Washington Animal Control training course. “Another improvement was the dead animal pick up,” McVicker said. “In the past, if your animal might have been hit by a car and was picked up by the road maintenance folks, animals were not scanned nor was it recorded anywhere. So if you lost you animal and it was deceased, you pretty much had no clue to what happened.” She said CARES facility now has an exam room in case they are able in the future to start giving animals vaccines as they arrive at the shelter. Many shelters give immediate vaccinations, regardless of whether the animal had previous care. “It is to protect the rest of the population,” McVicker told the Council. “They need training and additional funds for that.” Currently, animals are vaccinated a while after they are taken in, the work done by a local veterinarian. CARESQuarantineRooms CARES have also provided a locked and cleanable quarantine room as well as a separate cat quarantine room where an animal with a contagious disease can be kept safely. She said it was not a requirement, but it would be good to have a sanitizing dishwasher, which later CARES Director Debra George told the Council it was to be installed soon. She also has suggested a three-compartment sink so that items can be washed, rinsed and disinfected. Another suggestion for CARES is to establish a “barn cat program,” for feral cats to become “rodent patrol” for properties, if those cats are taken in. It would be a place for feral cats if the person who brought them in didn’t want them back as was suggested earlier in the meeting by resident Kathy Barlow Bysheim. McVicker said the CARES contract with the city does not require it to take cats but it does on occasion. She said “if they took cats, they would have to have additional funds because it costs money to take care of the animals.” When asked by Councilmember Debi Wagner she did not have an estimate on how much money would be needed to regularly take in cats. Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz asked about constant complaints of dogs running loose in the city. CARES Director Debra George says they respond to loose dog calls “all the time” but it is done on time and priority basis. “If they are out on a dog bit case or injured dog, that is going to take priority over a loose dog,” George said. “A lot of time, when we get there, they are not there, but we do take time driving around looking for it.” Under the new rules the Council adopted this year, citizens are given three minutes to comment on its Business agenda. Roger Delorm wanted to know if CARES “is a good waste of money, or not?” after hearing others suggest the agency does things some question. Chuck Rangel added that he has been unable to get copies of nonprofit reports that CARES is required to file with the Internal Revenue Service. He asked the Council not to do business with the agency until it makes these reports available to the public. Later in the meeting, Debra George said they had all of the reports and others some Council members asked about and would make them available. Perennial council commenter Goodspaceguy said he was just “brainstorming” but would it be a good idea to have more than one animal care contractor available to the residents – “if one calls CARES and can’t get through, then one can call ‘Cares More’ and they might get an answer.”]]>

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

28 replies on “Improvements to Burien CARES Animal Control ‘apparent’ to reviewer”

  1. As a recent client and adoptive parent of one of the animals at CARES I can honestly say that each and every occasion that I visited, I was treated both professionaly by the full time staff and all the volunteers. I will continue without hesitation to speak highly of CARES and the care and concern they both showed me and the animals ” including mine” I visited.

  2. We also adopted a special needs dog from CARES. It was a good experience and they made sure that we understood what we were taking on. We had a good experience with the adoption and I recommend them to any one looking for a pet.

  3. I had a good experience with Cares as well. They reunited a dog I found with her family and they use social media extensively to help other pets find their way home or find a new home. The conditions are much better in the new facility too. I had some serious reservations about the ability of this group to take on these services with such a low budget but with time they seem to be turning things around.

  4. CARES contract with the city was upped from $120,000 to $170,000 per year not too long ago. They are also a non-profit, which means they can and should be collecting funds from the public. They still can’t take on cats? What kind of a shelter is that? They can’t vaccinate but they can euthanize? So when unvaccinated animals get sick, they just euthanize them? As for feral cats, I hope CARES does not even try to work with them at this point. It takes a special skill to work with feral cats and find appropriate barn homes for the very few that should/need to be relocated. If CARES could help the citizens of Burien with low cost spay/neuter for their pets, that would help immensely with the feral cat issue. When I get a call about a cat issue, I cringe if I find out the cat is in Burien. I know then I am on my own to get it and the Burien citizen calling, the help they need.

    1. The “cat” issue must be one of misunderstanding or unique circumstances because I just adopted one of a litter of seven kitten that were born and weaned there. The mom was not feral and in fact quite calm and nice, just like my new kitten.

    2. They had cats at the site when we adopted our dog and I saw Ray at the vet picking up a cat that CARES had brought in for “shots”. On their website they have cats available for adoption.
      They contract with a local vet for their spay/neuter and medical needs and since it is the same vet we use, the vets already had the Dude’s medical records.
      As for the whole euthanasia topic, this dog would have been a prime candidate. He was picked up by CARES on a call about a dead dog in the park, he wasn’t dead but pretty close to it. He’s mostly blind, mostly deaf, had almost no teeth and those that were still there were so rotten the vets couldn’t even guess his age. He’s got stiff hindquarters that make it hard for him to walk, he had almost no hair and wasn’t house broken. Worst of all he was so underweight it was frightening to pick him up. But CARES and the vet spent time and money to see if he would pull through rather than doing the cheap and easy which would have been to euthanize him.

  5. I am glad to see that a few have a had a so called good experience with CARES, I still feel under all the smoke and mirrors that it a waste of our tax payers money to have people who have NO clue about Animal Control taking care of our pets. This is just the tip of the ice berg.

    1. Smoke and mirrors? Maybe you missed the part about how CARES has been audited twice by a highly experienced animal control professional, and she said they’re in good shape. The Health department also does periodic inspections.
      No clue about animal control? Maybe you also missed the part about how both animal control officers have attended the same training that other officers throughout the state attend.
      What I get from your comment is something along the lines of, “Don’t confuse me with the facts, I just don’t like them.” Please don’t try to turn your personal opinion into some sort of conspiracy that doesn’t exist.

      1. You can Hide my comments ALL you like, but the truth be known CARES is a joke! has been and always will be. Ms. McVicker was most likely hand picked by Mike Martin knowing full well that she would give CARES a good rating , and will continue so to make him look good! And Laura just because your Rays girl friend, shows how biased your comments are, You cant see the forest for the trees!.. Cares will continue to be a black hole our city dumps our tax dollars into, Some day someone on our city council will wake up and get us a real Animal Control service!! Again CARES is ALL smoke and mirriors, what is on the underside really stinks.

        1. You are so predictable Joe, I was just waiting for you to pull the “you’re Ray’s girlfriend and therefore are totally biased” comment back out of your recycle bin. Sure, I am his supporter, since I see how he has busted his butt for 2 1/2 years to build up a successful community animal shelter and animal control service, at far less expense to the taxpayers than what the county could offer. Even if Ray were not involved, I still think it’s a good deal to have dedicated services and shelter right here in Burien.
          I know way more about CARES than you do, and I am presenting factual information, unlike you. It’s a fact that the auditor is highly experienced and has given CARES a thumbs up. It’s a fact that both animal control officers have been to the same training as the other officers. It’s also a fact that your comments have been given a thumbs down, so maybe I am not the only person who thinks your comments are snarky and that your “truth” is only an opinion.

          1. This tends to happen a lot on here or just about any site with a comments section . Some people can’t stand the fact that each person can have there own thoughts and they also hate it when anything changes in life. It also the same people that think everyone on welfare has 20 names and ebt cards for each. I could go on there’s tons more

          2. Glad to see Roy got the proper training and a uniform! A big thumbs up for the dogcatcher!! Go Roy!! Keep up the good work.

    2. There wasn’t anything “so called” about our experience. Over the years we’ve adopted animals from places as big as the county Humane Society to one person adoption operations operating out of their home. The experience with CARES was neutral, it was what it needed to be, especially in the case of a special needs dog.
      As MS Stiles and the report, by an animal control expert stated, they are now doing a good job at what they are being paid to do.
      Between the county animal control and CARES, regarding strays, we’ve had the same level of service from both. Before the city switched to a private concern, if you called the county on a weekend they would ask you to call back on a weekday if the animal was still around, unless it was vicious, then you were instructed to call 911.

  6. Why did this blog HIDE marriane’s comment? There was NOTHING offensive about it.
    cares is a joke. The lady who did the report works at tacoma shelter which is a HIGH KILL shelter. So I would not put to much faith in her report.
    Here is a cat story for ya: some volunteers of mine trapped at an auto shop. They found 4 kittens at first. KNOWING that cares does NOT do cats, unless they want to.(they probably only pick the pretty ones) I had them call the humane society in Bellevue,(to see if they would take the kittens, since I can’t do adoptions, there was nothing I could do) Well the Humane society CALLED “cares” and well basically ‘cares’ calls my volunteers back and says they will take 4, well 1 day later 2 more were found. I then called and said “we got 2 more” you could hear it in Monique’s voice, urgh yep, she was not to excited. The kittens went to the vet, which is what is supposed to happen. cares is supposed to be a shelter, not pick and choose what they want to do. We did fix the adults and they went back to breed NO MORE.
    Feral cats, yeah a barn cat program, um cares doesn’t do cats so how the hell would they even deal with feral cats and trying to find barn homes. NO WAY.
    One thing that really struck a cord with all in the audience was: I will have to paraphrase as I can not watch the video on line, but I was there at that meeting. Lauren asked debra, “if you had more money how many more staff would you need?”
    debra’s answer was “I don’t know let me get back to you on that”. Seriously? that was her answer, it is sad to think that she does not even dream to have more staff to have a better “shelter” or she has no clue.
    I think we all need to continue to brainstorming.

    1. Pamela the blog didn’t “hide” Marianne’s comment – the Readers did.
      We implemented a new commenting system in Dec., 2013 ( that allows Readers to vote thumbs up or thumbs down on any comment on the blog.
      Once enough negative votes are tallied, that comment is “hidden.”
      It’s not perfect, but it allows our Readers to help control and police the site.
      But again – it’s Reader up/down votes that “hide” comments – NOT the blog or our staff (please note also that you can view the hidden comment w/one click).

      1. oh ok that I did not know. again there was nothing offensive about her comments. I guess people don’t like to know the truth.

    2. Pamal go get some fresh air go for a walk or something you don’t like cares that’s fine you have your opinion but to try to blame the blog for hiding a comment they never hide them if someone start dropping f bombs or something like that then yes it will gets deleted and how much of feral cat problem is there in burien

      1. Jimmy my sweet man, i get a fresh of air every day I am out trapping:))
        I have 3 sites in Burien this weekend ALL with kittens, don’t know ages yet. So what am I do to with them. Since “cares” does NOT do cat unless they want to?
        Again they are incompetent as a true shelter.

        1. Again, CARES’ contract with the city does not require, or fund,the sheltering of cats. They DO take in some cats, at their discretion.

          1. Then why would the auditor even suggest to do a barn relocation program if they do NOT do cats. Where is the sense in that.

        2. So what your saying is that you run a business trapping so called feral cats how many cats are you trapping weekly or monthly how much do you charge for these services if your trapping a lot then you need to sit down and talk with someone from county or the city and set up agreement of were to take these cats your trapping I believe cares was made for the regular people of burien and not for someone to profit off of if that’s what your doing

          1. jimmy my sweet boy. Um it is the the regular people who are calling cares looking for help for the feral cats, DUH. Hence you refer fcat or faf. It is the kittens that are adoptable that cares should be taking in as that is would the other King county shelters do.
            I TNR 700-1000 feral cat a YEAR, yes I said a YEAR and have been doing so for over 15 years. I have TNR”D about 13,000 feral cats, This does NOT included any adoptable kittens.
            There is NO CHARGE EVER. So get your facts straight dear boy. cares knows of fcat, faf that both of these organizations will help with feral cats, and of course the kittens since cares only does cats when it tickles their fancy.
            Both Seattle animal control, Kcac and humane society of Seattle all do their best when feral cats come into their shelters. The staff, refer the people to trappers like fcat and faf. So they don’t have kill the feral cats. cares doesn’t even do that. They tell people they don’t have any answers or call the people back.
            I have even offered to teach cares how vaccinate animals and draw blood, No takers.

          2. Ok and do you understand that cares is a lot smaller of a organization and that it takes time to get things up and running and yes there’s bumps in the road . And just becuse they won’t take everyone of your so called 1,000 cats or whatever your numbers are if you’re catch that many a year then you definitely need to talk to a bigger organization. What I mean before regular people is someone that happens to find a lost pet from time to time not some that traps them daily and has there head up there butt becuse they get along with a city that makes chages to save the tax payers a little cash.

  7. That is the point, you still just don’t get it. I am helping 3 citizens(you know REGULAR people) in the city burien, all have kittens that can be adopted but because cares does not do cats, I have to get the kittens fixed and send them back out. Which mean more people are pissed about cat crap in their gardens/yards or the people can not afford to feed 12 cats. So jimmy, boy you do not see the big issue here.
    So i guess you are ok with completely adoptable kittens being sent back great, then I can see why you support cares.
    bumps? try canyons.

    1. ok first you state that you catch 700 to 1000 cats a year of course cares is not going to take that many cats from one person and of course you run a competitive business and talk trash about cares online then expect them to help you out and really cat crap in a garden do you know what the main ingredient in most fertilizer is ITS ANIMAL FECES (POOP,CRAP,TURDS,SH**) also I bet 80% of the cats you catch are probably the callers neighbors cat coming in there in yard helping keep the rats and pests away you know if came back that neighborhood a week later there probably signs for a lost cat I just wonder how many cats you have caught have been some kids cat that happen to get out of house and end up roaming around a neighbor’s yards and you come along and catch it and take it away I lived in area for about 30 years I might 1 or 2 feral cats if any that 30 years so I don’t know were catching these cats you claiming to catch in burien so other words I think you might just be a little full of fertilizer

    2. You should write a book, call it “If only I had a life not based on Cats” A top seller for sure.

Comments are closed.