Winogrard's King County Report

Below is the link to every aspect of the Winograd consult of the King County shelter.

There is a 147 page PDF file, a powerpoint presentation and a video. There are also responses.

Nathan's consults are catalysts for change:

"It is unacceptable for this county, which models itself on innovative and cutting edge performance, to have an agency in such deplorable condition," said Councilmember Jane Hague.

“It’s critical for the council to act with urgency on the issues raised in this report about conditions in King County’s animal shelters,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips. “These are matters of life and death to the vulnerable animals dependent on our care. They are voiceless, so we must speak loudly on their behalf.”

“The lack of improvements to our animal control system, in spite of months of warnings and promises, is a clear indicator that King County staff’s oversight of facilities, operations and customer service is entirely inadequate,” said Councilmember Kathy Lambert. “This scathing report should serve as a catalyst for reorganization of the service delivery system, and perhaps even a charter amendment providing the Council a role in holding department heads accountable, so that we can prevent this kind of failure from occurring again in the future.”

“The inadequacy of care at animal shelters is an embarrassment,” said Councilmember Bob Ferguson. “Today’s scathing report shows the County still has not reformed its efforts to provide humane care to animals under its control.”

The Council retained Winograd to evaluate the leadership of Animal Services and its structural capacity to become a model no-kill program. Winograd will deliver his final written report to the Council within a week.

Five volunteers serving on the Citizens Advisory Committee sent the Council a letter earlier this month suspending their work, based on a lack of cooperation from Animal Services staff and other issues. After hearing testimony from one volunteer, Councilmembers today accepted a recommendation to suspend the committee’s work pending removal of “roadblocks to its effectiveness.” The citizens committee report in September described conditions at the shelters as “deplorable.”

In May 2007, the Council adopted comprehensive reforms for animal care and prevention of cruelty. The legislation sponsored by Councilmember Patterson called for transformation of King County Animal Care and Control into a model animal services program, with low euthanasia rates, high live-release rates and safe, sanitary, healthy and humane conditions.

The 2008 King County Budget adopted by the Council includes funding for the most critical upgrades to the County’s animal shelter facilities and improvements to the provision of medical care, nutrition and socialization, while the Council considers the business decision of whether to continue or discontinue the provision of animal sheltering services.


Anonymous said...

Here's some more "no kill" failures to add to the list.
Section: Local < Back to Regular Story Page
That ‘no-kill’ goal? Pierce County Humane Society abandons pledge

The Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County has quietly backed off a bold initiative to make Pierce County a “no-kill community” by the end of this year.
The goal of eliminating euthanasia for all but sick and unadoptable animals was announced at a Feb. 1, 2006, news conference. “As of December 31st, 2008, we want to be in the position of never having to euthanize a healthy adoptable animal again,” said Walli Roarke, who was the board’s president at the time.

But the organization realized that the mission was unrealistic and has since abandoned the plan, members of the board of directors said.

“We knew from the get-go that it was a very difficult if not impossible goal” to become a no-kill shelter, board vice president Phyllis Harrison said Thursday. “We knew it would not be an easy thing to do. And we realized fairly quickly that, because we’re committed to being an open-admission shelter, it was going to be impossible to be an absolute no-kill shelter.”

The group also announced at the same news conference that it would build a $1.4 million shelter for cats and sick animals. Those plans have also been shelved, Harrison said.

Leaders can’t recall an exact point when the no-kill goal was abandoned.

As recently as March 14, 2007, this pledge appeared on the group’s Web site, according to archived pages on “Our Commitment: Effective December 31, 2008, the Humane Society will no longer euthanize healthy, adoptable pets. We pledge to lead our community to become a ‘no-kill’ community.”

By the following week, the page had disappeared.

The Humane Society is now focusing on “working toward zero euthanasia” through preventive measures such as spaying and neutering, said board president Dick Heaton. He said the organization’s policy of taking in every animal brought to it makes a no-kill policy untenable.

At the news conference two years ago, the organization launched the “End the Heartache” campaign in hopes of ending euthanasia of healthy, adoptable pets by the end of 2008. They stressed at the time they couldn’t become an absolute no-kill shelter because some sick, injured or dangerous animals would still be euthanized.

The goal is still to eliminate euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals, executive director Kathleen Olson said, and the organization hopes to accomplish that by strongly encouraging owners to spay or neuter their pets. It operates mobile spay/neuter vans and will partner with other animal-welfare groups to open a low-cost spay/neuter clinic at 2106 Tacoma Ave. on March 6.

If enough animals are spayed or neutered, that could provide an opportunity for the Humane Society to eliminate euthanasia for adoptable animals.

“To say we’re a no-kill shelter – that’s what our goal is,” Heaton said.

“In reality, if we have an animal who medically or behaviorally cannot be adopted, or if there aren’t simply enough homes for adoptable ones, eventually we’ll have too many pets in the shelter for too long. Disease or some other problem will break out, forcing us to euthanize those pets.”

In 2005 and 2006, Pierce County and Tacoma took back responsibility for animal control and licensing, but the organization contracts with both for sheltering services. That factor alone means Humane Society staffers will euthanize animals.

“We would like to become a no-kill shelter,” Olson said. “But to do that, we would have had to tell the city and the county, ‘Oh, by the way, will you build a separate shelter just to do euthanasia? We only want to take in animals we can adopt out.’

“As this evolved, the board realized that since we’re the only shelter in the county, we will never be able to do no-kill, because we’re the only ones who can do euthanasia.”

The shelter euthanized 116 healthy, adoptable dogs and 1,981 adoptable cats last year – a number Olson calls “far too many.” Staffers also put down 673 pit bulls last year because they’re overbred and many people don’t want to adopt them, Olson said.

The Humane Society received a spike in the number of animals that entered the shelter – likely attributed to the no-kill announcement. Last year, it received 17,441 animals. That’s 934 more than the year before.

“Our volume went up because people heard ‘no-kill’ and said, ‘Oh, well, I don’t need to worry about Rover. I’ll just drop him off at the Humane Society,’” she said.

The organization’s plan to construct a $1.4 million building to house more cats and allow workers to segregate sick animals from the healthy population while they’re being treated is on hold, Harrison said. It is instead focusing on developing its spay/neuter clinics and reorganizing space at its Nalley Valley building to better segregate sick animals.

“One of the critical things in sheltering animals is not putting animals who come in sick with the healthy animals,” she said. “Some of those feline viruses can spread like wildfire. So we’re not creating a new facility, but we’re modifying the space we have.”

Animal groups across the country are increasingly adopting a no-kill policy, and many of those encounter difficulty in implementing it, said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States.

“There’s been a lot of talk, but there are very few that have been able to achieve it and have significant intake,” he said. “If you’re a small, humane organization and there’s a larger animal control facility in your area, it might be achievable.”

But, as Olson points out, the Humane Society for Tacoma & Pierce County is the primary shelter in the county and routinely registers higher intake numbers than all of King County’s facilities.

“The bottom line is,” Harrison said, “the notion of a community that never has to euthanize animals, that’s pretty idealistic.”

Scott Fontaine: 253-320-4758

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Ed Muzika said...


All I hear is extremely negative opinions with sweeping negative conclusions with no proof.

It is clear you are condemning the term "no kill" without defining what it means.

There can be absolute no kill but you'd have lots of dying and suffering animals. Kill is important for ending suffering and free cells for the living.

But NO ONE EVER has ever defined "no kill" as never killing any animals. NO ONE, certainly not Nathan.

As a practical matter it is often defined as "No more than 10% kill" of all animals enterning the shelter alive. This is for an open admission shelter, not for a non profit, limited admission shelter.

Ithaca and a few others have or are close to that. Tomkins is an extremely small shelter and may not count.

Charlottesville used to claim no kill status but now refuses to publish statistics.

Washoe claims no kill status for dogs in Reno, but there are both public and private shelters. This rate is for both combined.

SF has a combined euth of 13% for both the muni open shelter and the SFSPCA. This is practically no kill.

I don't know about Washoe.

I have also talked to all of the directors. What have they told you in quotes not your sweeping opinion No Kill is not possible.

So many outh there just announce with absolute certainty no kill is not possible without defining "no kill" or offering proof specific shelters that claim no kill are liars or incompetent.

When I supply official stats that show no kill has been attained or close to attaining, you negative guys repeatedly say don't trust the stats, but supple no other proof that those claims are bogus because the success of even one open shelter knocks your opinion out of the park.

I said I was not going to post this negative, no proof, sweeping negative opinion anymore so don't both to send them in unless you have proof.

"Never happen buddy," is kind of bull crappie.

Anonymous said...

From your response, Ed, the conclusion can be drawn that the term "no kill" is deceiving because animals are and will be killed at the shelters for various reasons. That's my problem with using the term. This term should only be used for limited admission shelters that don't have to euthanize for any reason other than incredible suffering. The term is confusing the public and making things worst. Rancho had more public surrenders of "strays" in 2007 than the ACO's brought in. The public is surrendering their own pets as strays to avoid being questioned or lectured. Then they walk away, feeling they did the right thing, and their pet won't be killed. These numbers are the reason the Rancho Shelter recently publicized that they are not no kill. Deceiving the public with this term has and will continue to harm the animals, not help them. There are alternatives that better describe the movement to stop euthanizing in such a fashion that the public won't be sure if their surrendered pet will be "killed" at the shelter. Although I feel some of these pets are better off at the shelter than with some of these people.