King County stinks at animal business

By Craig Groshart, guest columnist

  • Friday, June 13, 2008 7:58pm
  • Opinion

By CRAIG GROSHART, Editor, Bellevue Reporter

Here’s what King County calls proper treatment of animals in its shelters:

• Dismal shelter conditions and animal-care protocols, resulting in lack of humane care that borders on animal neglect.

• Continual outbreaks of disease that indicate lack of proper cleaning and vaccination protocols.

• Animals allowed to suffer for lack of medical treatment.

• Missed opportunities to save the lives of animals or properly respond to calls for service.

It’s no wonder that a consultant has called for the county to get out of the animal care and control business and let a private agency do the work.

Nathan Winograd, who runs the No Kill Advocacy Center in San Clemente, Calif., issued a blistering report this week on the sad state of the county’s animal care operation. His 147-page report, complete with photographs, paints a shocking picture.

(To read the consultant’s full report, go to www.kingcounty.gov/council.aspx.)

Winograd made two visits to the county’s shelters in Bellevue and Kent. The first, unannounced, was on Jan. 30. The second, pre-scheduled, came Feb. 18-21. The news was dreadful on both occasions.

Animal holding spaces were inadequately cleaned, staff displayed ignorance of basic animal care and behavior, and some animals went more than 24 hours without food and water, Winograd said in his report.

Winograd added that the county’s executive branch has “overlooked and ignored well over a decade’s worth of neglect and poor leadership” at animal control.

During this time, the executive’s office was assuring the County Council that the agency had a “model animal control program” and was a “recognized leader” in animal control.

The exact opposite appears to be the case. As Winograd notes, “animals are not being fed, care is poor, and suffering is the norm.”

None of this is new. The same problems that plagued the shelter 10 years ago plague the agency today, Winograd said.

Part of the problem apparently rests with the facilities themselves. The Kent shelter was built in 1975 as a place to warehouse and kill dogs away from residential areas of the county. It’s now in an industrial zone, making it difficult to attract people to come and adopt dogs.

At both the Kent and Bellevue facilities, the outside grounds are dirty and in disrepair. Winograd uses the word “filthy” to describe them.

Inside things are worse. Winograd notes there are few systems in place to prevent animals who healthy from becoming sick; “in fact, many practices at the shelter make illness nearly inevitable,” he said.

We would like to believe that the county is prepared to fix the problems, but given the years of inattention, that seems unlikely. If King County can’t or won’t do the job right, the task needs to be given to those who will. As Winograd notes, the county’s animal control operation “has failed the animals.”

Craig Groshart is editor of the Bellevue Reporter, a sister paper of the Federal Way Mirror. Send comments to

editor@fedwaymirror.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Keith Livingston is a longtime Federal Way resident and community observer. He can be reached at keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com.
When will Federal Way earn an A on its report card? | Livingston

Diversity appears to be Federal Way’s double-edged sword. We champion our diversity… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
U.S. Supreme Court: One right, one wrong | Roegner

Here’s a tale of two United States Supreme Court decisions — one… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Cities can help solve the homelessness challenge | Roegner

Each one of the cities outside Seattle faces the same problems Seattle… Continue reading

Email editor@federalwaymirror.com
Letter writer misses the mark on Christian culture | Letters

Letter writer misses the mark on Christian culture My letter is in… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Politics of homelessness have taken a nasty turn | Roegner

A common stereotype is that homeless people are all hooked on drugs… Continue reading

Cartoon by Frank Shiers
Editorial: Lifting restrictions doen’t mean pandemic is over

We have work to do to increase the number of vaccinations.

Email editor@federalwaymirror.com
Schools are at odds with Christian culture | Letter

Out of concerns for the Native American community (culture), the superintendent of… Continue reading

Most Read