King County, WA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

King County, Washington, has a population of almost 2 million people, and its county seat is Seattle. Many of the people in the county live in the suburbs of Seattle.

In 2008, the county reported a live release rate of 77%, substantially better than in previous years. A consultant submitted a scathing report on the shelter, however, which at that time was known as King County Animal Care & Control. The consultant concluded that, among other things, animals were often left without food and water for substantial periods of time. The county council then decided to make changes.

In July of 2010, the county implemented a regional plan for animal control, breaking the county up into four regions which each had their own animal control staff. Animal sheltering was consolidated at the county shelter in Kent, Washington. A new manager was appointed. The new entity was know as Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC). RASKC accepts owner surrenders on a space available basis. RASKC serves the unincoporated area of King County and 25 cities and towns.

For 2011 and 2012, RASKC reported a live release rate around 85%. A complicating factor in evaluating the live release rate for King County is that the Humane Society for Seattle/King County (HSSKC), a private organization, accepts owner surrenders (by appointment). HSSKC and the Seattle Animal Shelter report to Maddie’s Fund as a coalition, and their most recent available online report (2010) shows a 91% live release rate for the coalition as a whole, with HSSKC at 94% and the Seattle shelter at 85%. HSSKC separately reported a 96% live release rate for 2011.

For the calendar year 2013, RASKC reported an 89% live release rate for cats and dogs. If owner-requested euthanasia and animals who died or were lost in shelter care are included with euthanasias, the live release rate was 86%. The shelter also euthanized some livestock, wildlife, and small animals, including bats for rabies testing. If all these euthanasias are counted with cats and dogs, the live release rate was 83%. In 2014, the live release rate declined to 86%, or 84% if animals who died or were lost in shelter care are counted with euthanasias. The live release rate might well be over 90% if the owner surrenders from King County that go to HSSKC were counted in RASKC statistics.

HSSKC’s yearly intake is around 6,000, so it is a major player in the area. Since HSSKC serves both the city and the county, it would be helpful to have a consolidated report for all three entities that accounted for transfers among the three entities. At any rate, the Seattle metropolitan area appears to be one of the safest large metros in the nation for animals.

King County is counted in the Running Totals as an 80% to 90% community.

Whidbey Island, WA

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Whidbey Island, which is part of Island County, Washington, is at the northern edge of Puget Sound, 30 miles north of Seattle. The island has over 58,000 residents and its largest city, Oak Harbor, has about 22,000 people.

The Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation (WAIF) handles animal sheltering for the island. WAIF contracts with Island County and the city of Oak Harbor to provide shelter services, although the contract payments do not cover the total cost for the services. WAIF, a non-profit, fund-raises for the remainder.

WAIF has a holding facility for strays in Oak Harbor. Unclaimed strays are transferred to WAIF’s main shelter in Coupeville, about 10 miles from Oak Harbor. The shelter has weekend hours on both Saturday and Sunday. WAIF also has a cat adoption center in Oak Harbor, and a “cat cottage” in Freeland, Washington. Construction is underway on a new shelter located on a 10-acre site, with completion anticipated this fall.

WAIF reports live release rates above 90% since 2005, with the exception of two years when it was at 89%. The live release rate for 2014 was 95%. In 2014, WAIF had intake of 841 animals, down from 903 in 2013. The shelter returned 75% of dogs to their owners in 2014 and 6% of cats, far above national averages in both categories.  Adoptions were 64% of live outcomes.

Whidbey Island is counted in the Running Totals as a 90% community.

Orcas Island, WA

San Juan County, population 15,800, is an archipelago located off the shore of the state of Washington. There are no bridges to the islands of San Juan County, and transportation is by air or water. The four main islands are San Juan (population 6800), Orcas (4500), Lopez (2200), and Shaw (240). The county has one incorporated city, Friday Harbor, which has 2200 residents and is located on San Juan Island.

There are two animal shelters that serve San Juan County — the Friday Harbor Animal Protection Society (FHAPS) on San Juan Island and the Orcas Animal Protection Society (OAPS) on Orcas Island. Both shelters are non-profits that take in strays and owner surrenders. I spoke with officials from both shelters about the history and operation of the shelters. Years ago, the shelters were part of the same organization (hence the similarity in their names) but now they are separate organizations.

OAPS accepts owner surrenders except for dogs that are dangerous to people or have killed other animals. They do not perform owner-requested euthanasia. In 2012 their intake was 218 animals, including 65 animals that they took in to help other shelters. They returned 83 animals to their owners and adopted out 109. They did not euthanize any dogs in 2012, and had to euthanize 10 cats for medical reasons, mostly elderly cats in renal failure. Their live release rate for 2012 was 95%.

In 2013, OAPS had an intake of 160 animals, with a live release rate of 98%. The live release rate was 97% if animals who died in shelter care are included as euthanasias. The shelter official I spoke with at OAPS attributes their high live release rates to a vigorous spay-neuter program that was started 25 years ago. Feral cats get TNR and domesticated cats can be spayed or neutered for free. All shelter dogs are spayed or neutered, and OAPS will subsidize spaying and neutering for owned dogs at the local veterinarian, based on financial need. Here is a link to OAPS’s 2013 statistics: Orcas APS stats 2013

See the Worth Watching category for a separate report on FHAPS.

OAPS and FHAPS both take in animals from Lopez Island, which has a foster program but does not have a public shelter. They also are ready to help when they get calls from the smaller islands in the county such as Shaw and Waldron, and the shelters help each other when needed.

Orcas Island, WA, was originally listed by this blog on October 5, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

Kitsap County, WA

Kitsap County is in the state of Washington, right across Puget Sound from Seattle. It’s a large county, with a population of over 250,000 people. The county contains four cities — Bremerton (population of about 40,000), Bainbridge Island (23,000), Port Orchard (11,000), and Poulsbo (9000).

Animal control and sheltering services are provided for Kitsap County by the Kitsap Humane Society (KHS), a non-governmental charitable organization. The shelter has an animal control unit which handles stray intake, cruelty investigations, and responding to emergencies and disasters. The shelter takes in owner surrenders with a fee, which is reduced for low-income people, and it requires an appointment.

The shelter issues annual reports that include its statistics. In 2010, it reported an intake of 4285 animals and a live release rate of 94%. In 2011, reported intake was 4993 with a live release rate of 95%. The 2012 annual report states that intake was 4703 animals and the live release rate was 94%. The 2012 report also notes that the shelter increased its low-cost spay-neuter surgeries by 67% over 2011.

Kitsap County, WA, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Seattle, WA

Seattle, with over 600,000 residents, is the largest city in the Pacific northwest, and ranks 22nd among US cities in population size. The Seattle city government provides animal control and sheltering for the city through the Seattle Animal Shelter (SAS). The shelter accepts owner surrenders from any person within its jurisdiction, and from outside the jurisdiction when possible.

In addition to the city shelter, Seattle has the Humane Society for Seattle/King County (HSSKC), a private organization that also accepts owner surrenders. The humane society requires an appointment for owner surrenders.

The city shelter and the humane society report their statistics as a coalition to Maddie’s Fund. The most recent available online report for the coalition is for 2010, and it shows a 91% live release rate for the coalition as a whole. HSSKC is at 94% and SAS is at 85%.

A couple of notes about the statistics. First, there may be some overlap in intra-community transfers, as it is not clear that all of these were separated out. Second, there were 645 owner-requested euthanasias out of a total intake of 9921 animals. HSSKC offers owner-requested euthanasia for animals who are “seriously ill or suffering.” A modified live release rate for the coalition with owner-requested euthanasia and died/lost in shelter care counted in with euthanasia is 84%. It is problematic to use the figure for owner-requested euthanasia, however, since HSSKC may be receiving such requests from the larger metropolitan population of 3.5 million people.

Seattle, WA, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.