Acting manager Al Dams of King County Animal Services (in Washington state) was on the defensive in the wake of a scathing report submitted recently by a citizens advisory committee describing the conditions at their two animal shelters as “deplorable”. They point to unsanitary conditions that result in high disease rates, undersized cages and inadequate attention paid to exercising the animals and providing them with social contact.
The committee report proposed more than three dozen changes to the county’s Animal Services program. They describe the county’s animal care as “well beneath the standards that should be expected in a prosperous, compassionate and generous community.” Recommendations for immediate action included renovation of the facilities, hiring additional staff and an overhaul of shelter policies. The two shelters take in more than 12,000 dogs and cats annually.
The committee reserved their most damning observations for the shelters themselves. An open sewer drain that runs through several dog pens at the Kent facility, exposing the animals to diseases such as parvo and upper respiratory infections. The report also cited 135 animals that went missing in the past year through bad paperwork, theft and unknown factors. Most troubling of all was the revelation that cages face the euthanization table, meaning that the captive animals can see the procedure being performed.
Dams conceded that the shelters were in need of renovations, but disagreed with the committee’s characterization of the facilities as deplorable. He pointed out that euthanizations were being performed less often than in the past. Thirty-eight percent of the animals committed to the shelters last year were euthanized. Dams stated that the animals destroyed were all unadoptable because they were either sick or vicious. In 1990, animal services euthanized 81% of the animals that it took in.
In May of this year, the King County Council passed an ordinance to reduce the number of euthanized animals to 20 percent by the end of 2008, and to 15 percent by the end of 2009.
Spokeswoman Carolyn Duncan said the county recently added a “pet of the week” link to feature adoptable animals on the county’s home page and claimed that they were reaching out to people as they had never done before.
Source: Seattle Times