On June 21, 2010, the Council gave its unanimous approval to the creation of a collaborative regional animal services program that spreads the cost of animal control, sheltering and licensing between 27 suburban cities and King County’s unincorporated communities, while providing for public safety and the humane care of animals.
The Council’s adoption of the regional plan was the culmination of three years of work by the Council and the County Executive to reform an animal services system that was scrutinized by numerous Council studies. A joint cities-county work group formed in January by County Executive Dow Constantine developed the regional program that creates a partnership between the County and the suburban cities that contract with the County for animal services.
The County Executive introduced his proposal to develop a comprehensive regional animal service system on April 7. The proposed plan received its first public briefing in the Council’s Regional Policy Committee April 14.
The proposed plan would divide the County into four districts each staffed by at least one animal control officer, stray or abandoned animals would be housed at a non-profit shelter in Lynnwood or at the county shelter in Kent, and cities could enjoy significant economies of scale under a new regional animal services model developed by a Joint Cities-County Work Group.
Earlier this year, Councilmembers agreed to extend the January 31 deadline that directed the County to end the provision of animal sheltering services – a move that gives the new County Executive more time to work with cities and other stakeholders to develop options such as a comprehensive regional animal services plan.
Shortly after approving the extension, the County Council approved legislation postponing staff reductions in the King County Animal Care and Control system that were part of the proposed closure of County animal sheltering services. The Members expressed a strong desire to remain good partners with cities that have relied upon the County to provide animal care and control services for many years, while balancing the County’s need for cost recovery in its provision of discretionary services.
Last November, the Council adopted legislation calling for the end of County animal sheltering services at the Kent and Bellevue locations by January 31, 2010, and requiring the establishment of full cost recovery contracts with those cities that wished to continue to receive animal control services from the county by June 30, 2010. The Council took that action in the wake of four reports—three independent reviews and an audit conducted by the King County Auditor—that showed a persistent pattern of problems in the leadership, organization, and operation of King County Animal Care and Control.