Unlike neighboring Burien, SeaTac finds consensus on animal control

With heavy subsidy, SeaTac to pay $107,000 a year while Burien pays $120,000

Often-contentious SeaTac council members have achieved unanimous consent on a subject that their counterparts in Burien have struggled over—animal control and care services.

Without discussion, the SeaTac City Council approved June 26, a three-year contract with Regional Animal Services of King County (RASKC.)

Tukwila also contracts with King County. Des Moines and Normandy Park share a full-time animal control officer, who is a Des Moines police officer.

SeaTac lawmakers were briefed by staff members and discussed the animal control contract at previous council meetings and study sessions.

SeaTac will pay a net $107,000 a year for three years. The city is receiving a $124,000 per year subsidy from RASKC as part of the contract.

RASKC divides King County into three districts with animal control officers available seven days a week. The Kent animal shelter is also open seven days a week.

Burien contracts with Burien CARES, a nonprofit group headed by The Mark Restaurant co-owner Debra George. The contract is for $120,000 per year.

Some Burien residents have been critical of the level of service provided by CARES. They say CARES has not accounted for 285 animals taken in by the group. George says most of the animals were returned to their owners.

Burien Mayor Brian Bennett has called for a qualified third-party group to assess CARES.

At the June 18 Burien council meeting, City Manager Mike Martin said Burien is saving $100,000-$300,000 per year by choosing CARES over the county’s regional service.

“Never in my career, have I seen something going so right, characterized as going so wrong,” Martin observed.

In briefing papers for SeaTac council members, SeaTac staffers say they studied joining CARES, partnering with other cities or having the city go it alone like Burien.

During the three-year contract, the staff members say they will continue to explore options.

But they said a consensus had emerged that “King County is the most affordable and reliable option at this time.”

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