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Originally published March 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 21, 2008 at 10:08 AM

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Letter calls for investigation of animal shelters

Nearly three dozen shelter volunteers and animal-rights activists Thursday called for an immediate criminal investigation into possible...

Seattle Times staff reporter

Town Hall meeting: The Metropolitan King County Council will hold a "town hall" meeting on shelters and the animal-control program from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. April 14 at the Highline Performing Arts Center, 401 S. 152nd St., Burien.

Nearly three dozen shelter volunteers and animal-rights activists Thursday called for an immediate criminal investigation into possible animal neglect and urged the Metropolitan King County Council to find outside supervision for the county's two shelters.

In a letter to council members and County Executive Ron Sims, the group said volunteers at the shelters "have frequently reported" that animals don't have appropriate food and water or needed medical care, and sleep in their own waste. Those concerns were borne out by consultant Nathan Winograd's report to the County Council Monday that he had seen cats in the Kent shelter infirmary go without food or water on two consecutive days, they said.

"Our frustrations were deepened by Mr. Sims' offhand dismissal of Mr. Winograd's findings in the March 19 media, without even a token effort at conducting an objective investigation," the writers said.

Sims earlier this week angrily rejected the report, saying: "I don't agree we've allowed animals to starve or be without water."

County Council President Julia Patterson, who has been critical of shelter management, said Thursday she doesn't support the volunteers' proposal to appoint a receiver who would supervise animal care while the County Council decides the future of the shelters in Kent and Bellevue.

Patterson said she will invite Sims to meet with her and Councilmember Dow Constantine next week to come up with possible ways of improving animal care and reducing euthanasia. She said she will seek public input on those ideas at an April 14 town hall meeting in Burien.

The letter was signed by 33 people, including 22 volunteers who listed no affiliation with animal-rights groups.

Among the signers were four members of a citizens' advisory committee on animal control, Coalition for a No Kill King County President Claire Davis, former Pasado's Safe Haven Executive Director Kim Sgro, Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project Executive Director Julie White and Friends of King County Animal Control President Cheryl Bell. Other signatories included Pasado's founder Susan Michaels and veterinarian Christine Wilford.

Like her boss two days earlier, Sims spokeswoman Carolyn Duncan blasted Winograd, who is a nationally prominent advocate of "no-kill" shelters. "He isn't a neutral consultant taking an objective look at our animal-control facilities," Duncan said. "He has a playbook that's on his Web site. We're in Steps 3 and 4 where you escalate it. It's a revolution where there are good guys and bad guys."

Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or kervin@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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