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King County Executive News

King County Executive News
Feb. 24, 2010

Experienced manager with oversight of Seattle Animal Shelter named to lead King County Animal Services under emerging regional model

County/Cities Work Group continues progress toward development of new regional strategy for animal control, sheltering and licensing

King County's transition to a new regional model for the provision of animal services received a boost today with the addition of a longtime city of Seattle director who once had oversight of the Seattle Animal Shelter. King County Executive Dow Constantine today named Ken Nakatsu as the Manager of Regional Animal Services for King County Animal Care and Control (KCACC).

Ken was appointed Feb. 5 as Director of the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD), but submitted his resignation Monday due to his concern over a few chronic health conditions. The Executive offered Nakatsu the opportunity to transfer to a smaller but equally critical role managing the delivery of the county's animal services, under a new regional model that is now being developed in coordination with local cities.

"I'm committed to the belief that all homeless and neglected animals in King County deserve fair and humane treatment, and I'm looking forward to working toward that goal," said Nakatsu. "I was very disappointed about not being able to continue with DAJD, but pleased I can continue serving the public and working with the cities and our partners to help develop this new regional model for animal care and control."

"We are lucky to have someone with Ken's depth of experience and steady hand as we transition to a new model," said Carrie Cihak, who is leading the 2010 King County/Cities Work Group for Regional Animal Services as Director of Strategic Initiatives for Executive Constantine. "Ken was our first choice for this new position. We are getting a Cabinet-level talent to devote his full abilities to run part of a division and help us build partnerships and a model that is respected and accountable for animal care, public safety, and the associated costs."

Nakatsu is a long-time City of Seattle operations manager and administrator who most recently managed the Flood Preparedness Unit in King County's Facilities Management Division, prior to his appointment to DAJD. From 2002 to 2007, Ken was Seattle's Director of Executive Administration, where the city's animal services operations and the management of the Seattle Animal Shelter reported to him.

Under his leadership, volunteers at the Seattle Animal Shelter raised funds to expand and stabilize spay and neuter veterinary services, and the rate of pet licensing increased significantly. Nakatsu also initiated the enclosure of a breezeway to increase more usable shelter space for the animals, and through expert budgeting helped maintain services to the public despite a fiscal crunch that caused an initial reduction in staff.

Nakatsu's scope of work will include overseeing the county's animal control functions and two shelter locations at Kent and Crossroads. He begins his new duties on Monday, March 1. His deputy at DAJD, Hikari Tamura, will assume the duties of Acting Director while a search is conducted for his successor.

"This solution will allow us to have an outstanding experienced leader in place to see us through the coming KCACC transition ahead," said Caroline Whalen, Acting Director of the Department of Executive Services that oversees KCACC. "This is a tremendous step towards creating a regional, sustainable animal services model, while providing humane care for the homeless animals in King County."

Interim KCACC Manager Nancy McKenney will stay in her position through March 15 to facilitate a smooth transition. McKenney started at KCACC as a communications specialist in July 2008 and became Interim Manager in January 2009. "I am grateful for the insight and professionalism that Nancy has provided as we moved towards a new model," said Whalen.

A small working group of cities has been meeting weekly with the Executive's office, and has developed a statement of common interests that is providing a foundation for moving forward together on a new regional model for animal services.

The goal of the work group is to develop an agreement in principle by March 31 for a regional model that identifies service expectations, costs, and cost allocation. The regional model will include recommendations regarding animal sheltering, animal control, and pet licensing. To date, the work group has made no final recommendation on who would operate the system or at what cost.

The March 31 deadline will allow time thereafter for contract development, determination by jurisdictions regarding their participation in the regional model, and ratification of contracts by each respective City Council and the King County Council by June 30, 2010.

King County currently contracts with 32 cities to provide animal services in King County outside Seattle, with local responsibility for the unincorporated areas. The County Council has established a deadline of June 30 for the County to terminate current contracts and enter into full cost-recovery contracts with cities.