Kirkland signals interest in countywide animal control
June 4, 2010 · 3:32 PM
Kirkland has joined 26 other cities and signed letters of intent to join a collaborative new approach to provide for animal services in the county.
The next step is for King County Executive Dow Constantine to deliver a comprehensive package to the King County Council for implementation of a new regional model for animal care, control and licensing.
“With this new regional model the county and cities can provide better public health and safety, animal welfare and customer service, at a lower cost than cities could provide on their own,” said Constantine.
The Executive also proposed a “Roadmap for Reform” to address remaining areas for improvement in animal services; legislation containing the proposed contract with the cities; a proposed ordinance to make a variety of code changes to restructure license fees and enable public-private partnerships in support of the new model; and a supplemental budget request for $3.2 million, backed by $2.5 million in revenue, to implement the new model in the second half of this year and for other related costs.
Twenty-seven of the 34 original contracting cities have indicated interest in participating in the regional model through interlocal agreements lasting two-and-a-half years. If a critical mass of those cities follow through to sign contracts and the County Council approves, the new Regional Animal Services of King County would be implemented starting July 1.
Among many code changes, the proposed ordinance would:
• Remove a significant disincentive to pet licensing by removing a provision that allows owners who are caught with an unlicensed pet to avoid penalties.
• Lower the license fee for unaltered pets to be more in line with other jurisdictions and encourage licensing.
• Authorize the county to enter into concession agreements with vendors to sell animal-related products and services, and to sell advertising, sponsorship and naming rights for the benefit of regional animal services.
• For the first time, authorize acceptance of credit and debit cards both at the Kent shelter and in the field to improve customer service and increase revenues.
• Create a long-awaited animal bequest fund to enable the disbursement of funds donated for the benefit of animals, in accordance with donor restrictions, and to enable the county to accept and solicit gifts, bequests and donations in support of regional animal services.
Among the key actions to the plan are to:
• Hire a field operations and external affairs manager, ideally with proven experience in animal services, to improve animal care, manage the animal population, work with community partners, and develop operating procedures and ensure that those procedures are followed.
• Hire a full-time volunteer coordinator, essential for increasing the number of volunteers and effectively managing them, maintaining animal care within available resources and moving animals quickly through the shelter system – in particular during the approaching peak summer season.
• Hire a veterinary medical director and two additional veterinary technicians to provide a higher level of care in the Kent shelter, in part through the use of funds donated for improved animal care.
• Refine and continue to establish procedures to systematically identify all new calls about animal cruelty, follow up weekly with field sergeants, and provide guidance to the animal cruelty sergeant when pursuing the most serious cases.
• Work with the Sheriff’s Office to develop procedures for responding quickly and more effectively to potential animal cruelty cases and issues of public safety, engage police earlier in the investigation of serious cases, and establish policies and procedures for after-hours dispatch.
• Work with the King County Prosecuting Attorney to develop procedures to more clearly establish the actions that animal control officers can take in potential animal cruelty cases, particularly with regard to the seizure or impoundment of healthy animals in situations where other animals have died or been harmed, and to clarify when criminal as opposed to civil actions can be taken.
• Engage outside experts to review shelter, veterinary clinic, and field operations, objectively evaluate the progress that has been made, and identify additional improvements that are needed.