Guide to Animal Services Enforcement Appeals
Who is the examiner?
The examiner is appointed by the county council to hold hearings and issue decisions on appeals of Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC) enforcement orders such as violation notices, confinement orders, and/or removal orders. The examiner is a neutral decision-maker, like a judge. The examiner’s office works for the council, not for RASKC.
How about access?
Sign language interpretation is available, for free, by calling TDD Number (206) 296-1024. Non-English language interpreters are available, for free. For those with travel barriers, contact the examiner to discuss alternatives, like appearing by telephone. Call (206) 477-0860 or email email@example.com. Please make requests early in the process.
How does the hearing process start?
People who receive a RASKC enforcement order may appeal to have us hear their case. There is no appeal fee, but the following three requirements must be met:
The deadline to submit your appeal is 24 calendar days after RASKC issues its decision. When RASKC posts a decision on a door or hands it directly to someone, the clock starts ticking that day. When RASKC mails a decision, the clock starts ticking on the date RASKC puts it in the mail, not on the date you actually receive it.
Getting your appeal statement to a post office by the deadline is not sufficient. RASKC must actually receive your appeal by the deadline (and mail delivery often takes several days). Untimely appeals are barred—there is no flexibility. This may not seem fair, but it is the law. You can submit your appeal via:
- mail or in-person (Monday – Friday, noon – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday, noon – 5:00 p.m.) at 21615 64th Avenue S, Kent, WA 98032, or
- email to RASKCappeals@kingcounty.gov (ask RASKC to confirm its receipt).
Your appeal must include:
- Either a copy of the RASKC decision(s) you are appealing or the RASKC file number(s) and decision date(s);
- A description of your interest in the case (for example, you are the animal’s owner);
- The error(s) you think RASKC made in its decision (“It wasn’t my dog” or “It was my dog, but ____,” or “That didn’t happen,” or “That happened, but____,” etc.);
- Specific reason(s) why you think RASKC’s decision(s) should be reversed (“My dog didn’t meet the code definition,” etc.) or modified (“The penalty is too high,” etc.);
- How RASKC’s decision(s) harms or will harm you; and
- What outcome(s) you seek (“Overturn the order,” or “Reduce the fine,” etc.).
While your appeal does not have to include all the evidence (like a document) you want to submit to support your appeal, it does need to include all the matters or issues you want to raise. If you are not sure about exactly what to say, make sure you still get an appeal, even if imperfect, delivered to RASKC by the deadline.
If you get your initial appeal to RASKC on time, the examiner has authority to later allow you, before the hearing, to modify or add to the issues you originally raised. But, the examiner has no authority to hear an appeal if your original appeal statement did not arrive at RASKC on time. Whatever you do, make sure RASKC receives your appeal by the deadline!
Filing a timely appeal does not prevent you from resolving your case without going to a hearing. It simply preserves your right to object to RASKC’s decision. It simply preserves your righ tto object to RASKC's decision. Otherwise RASKC’s decision becomes final and unchallengeable once the appeal deadline passes.
Is mediation a possibility?
Mediation may be available. First, check Examiner Rule V. To initiate mediation, make a written request early in the process. Mediation holds the most promise for barking dog cases, or where the specific incident is only the tip of a broader neighbor-versus-neighbor dispute.
What can you expect before a hearing?
Several weeks before a hearing, the examiner will send out a notice of hearing. Read that notice carefully. It sets the day, time, and location of the hearing. It often includes initial interpretations of the issues for hearing and thoughts on potential resolution. It sets deadlines for amending the issues you raised in your appeal statement (as described above) and for sending any information required before the hearing.
Two weeks before a hearing, RASKC submits to the parties and to the examiner a report summarizing the issues and providing most or all of the documents RASKC intends to offer as exhibits at the hearing. Read these carefully.
RASKC’s files on a case are public records; anyone wanting to review the entire file prior to the hearing may arrange this with RASKC (by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (206) 263-1977). Similarly, anyone may request examiner documents; examiner records are usually available electronically, typically at no cost.
Who can participate in the appeal process?
Normally, only RASKC and the person who filed the appeal are involved in matters like (re) scheduling a conference or hearing, setting deadlines, making or responding to motions, and deciding what evidence to present, witnesses to call, and questions to ask in a hearing.
Others with an interest in the case may request “intervenor” status to become a party. Please review Examiner Rule X.B (link below) for information on requesting this. Intervenor requests are not automatically granted, but are reviewed on a number of specific criteria.
What typically happens at an appeal hearing?
Where and when?
Hearings are usually held on Wednesday afternoons in the King County Courthouse in downtown Seattle. Pets are not allowed. Be on time, or you may forfeit your right to participate. Very occasionally a prior hearing runs overtime and delays the next hearing’s start. Please enter the room quietly (proceedings are recorded), refrain from side conversations, and turn off all phones.
How will the hearing go?
- Because RASKC carries the burden of proof regarding any issues or matters you raised in your appeal, RASKC speaks first. RASKC presents testimony and offers its documents, typically only those RASKC sent out two weeks before the hearing. Although examiners have a lower threshold for admitting evidence than courts do, you may offer specific objections to any documents. You may question any witness.
- Then, it is your turn to offer testimony and any documents; RASKC may raise objections and ask you questions. RASKC may also question any witness you present.
- Anyone wanting to introduce any document should bring at least three copies.
- Afterwards, each party has some time to respond to what the other party presented, followed by brief closing statements.
- At any time, the examiner may ask questions.
- All testimony must be under oath, which means examiner swears in each witness.
How can I present the best case?
First, carefully read the notice or pre-hearing order the examiner sends out a few weeks before hearing. Effective testimony and argument often explain how a specific law applies to your case. Presentations can be in the form of notes, written statements, photographs, documentary records, and visual aids.
Statements offered in-person (or at least by telephone) and subject to cross examination (questioning) are generally given the most consideration. You may present documents and testimony describing any remedial work you have done to address the situation.
What about hearing records?
Your hearing will be recorded and you may request a copy of the recording and/or any documents. Depending on the volume of data requested, there may be a duplication cost, although the examiner’s office maintains most records digitally.
What happens after the hearing?
Within ten business days (meaning weekends and holidays are excluded) of the hearing’s close, the examiner sends a final decision, which includes findings of fact based upon the hearing record and conclusions drawn from those findings. It may wholly grant the appeal, wholly deny the appeal, or do something in the middle (modify conditions, reduce fines, etc.).
Examiner decisions end with general information for how to appeal. The examiner can offer no additional instruction beyond that written information. It is an appellant’s responsibility to determine and meet the exact requirements for filing an appeal.
What is the proper way to communicate with our office?
While you may contact us with procedural questions, any questions/statements related to the substance of the appeal should be raised at a conference or hearing, or made in writing and addressed to all parties. Examiner staff screens correspondence and calls to prevent prohibited contacts to the Examiner from either party. In general, emails should be sent to email@example.com and copied to RASKCappeals@kingcounty.gov.
How does the examiner ensure I have a fair hearing?
Examiners are independent of RASKC and do not give any deference to RASKC or any other agency. Examiners may not hear appeals where they have financial interests, have pre-judged the issues, or may appear biased by a relationship to a party or property. A person with reasonable grounds to believe an examiner might be influenced by a factor outside the record should promptly bring that concern to the examiner’s attention.
What rules and laws typically apply?
It often helps to become familiar with standards governing the decision-making process, especially KCC chapters 20.22 and 11.04 and the examiner’s rules:
Examiners base decisions primarily on those sources, and also on constitutional principles and appellate court decisions.
For past examiner decisions, by year, see Case Digest.
You may call the examiner's office with questions.
Animal Services Enforcement Appeals Guide
You can also send us an email to request a hardcopy version of the Hearings Guide.
The hearing examiner bases decisions on adopted King County codes and policies, state statutes, regulations, and appellate court decisions. To participate effectively in a hearing, it often helps to become familiar with the laws and policies that govern the decision-making process.
Department of Executive Services - Regional Animal Services of King County
For contact information for any county agency or personnel, call King County Information at (206) 291-0100 or 1-800-325-6165 or check www.kingcounty.gov.