The King County Council adopted legislation today directing the County executive to end animal sheltering services by Jan. 31 and to end animal control services to the cities by June 30 unless new agreements are made that allow the County to recover the full costs of field services.
For some time, revenues from pet licenses and other fees have fallen short of the cost of providing animal care and control services in the amount of approximately $2 million per year.
“For three years we’ve heard from consultants, audits, and work groups, unanimously advising us that we have serious problems in our animal sheltering program,” said Councilwoman Julia Patterson said. “It’s time to make a decision – get out of the animal sheltering business and turn to community organizations to provide more humane, efficient care.”
The motion calls for an end to operation of the County’s animal shelters in Kent and the Crossroads area by Jan. 31 with a cooperative transition of animals to one or more new entities that would provide sheltering services.
If the County is to continue providing animal control field services past June 30 the motion calls for the costs in incorporated areas to be fully reimbursed by the cities contracting for those services, in accordance with previously established County policy requiring full cost recovery on discretionary contractual services. Cities will have the flexibility of commissioning their own animal control officers and using pet license fees to fund the positions.
Thirty-two cities now contract with King County for field services that include response to complaints of vicious animals and bites, investigation of animal cruelty cases, pick up of injured animals, stray dogs and cats, owner-released pets, and deceased animals and response to barking dog complaints.
As the local service provider to the unincorporated areas, King County will continue to provide animal control field services to those areas. The legislation requires that a study be completed by March 31 to:
• analyze what revenues, expenditures and business activities are needed to meet the County’s animal control responsibilities under state law;
• analyze and present historical records on pet license revenues from unincorporated areas as well as historical cost estimates for the provision of animal control services in the unincorporated areas and
• present potential options for the provision of animal control services in the unincorporated areas that are fully supported by the revenues from animal license fees, or other revenue-generating options that do not require support from the County General Fund.