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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

King County, WA

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.

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