This letter was received and I felt it needed to be published. These guys are fighting for their lives there and any support we can offer would be appreciated.
My name is Sgt. John Diel and I am the President of the Animal Control Officer’s Guild (the Guild) proudly representing King County Animal Control Officers, Sergeants, Veterinary Technicians and as of September 29, 2009 the Operations Employees of the Seattle Humane Society (SHS).
The purpose of this letter is to bring context and perspective to the article published October 9, 2009 in your paper, ‘Whistleblower letter alleges neglect at the Kent Shelter.’
As the President of the Guild I of course am deeply concerned an employee, possibly one I represent felt it necessary to go to the King County Ombudsman to voice concerns about what was described as “violations of neglect and cruelty laws, and constitute an abuse of authority, and a gross waste of taxpayer money.” Since this complaint was summarily withdrew by the complaining party before it could be investigated and the employees exonerated from any wrongdoing, in a separate letter (attached) to the King County Ombudsman I am requesting they go forward with investigating these accusations which I am confidant will be unfounded again.
For many years Guild members have worked very hard to meet King County mandates only to be criticized at the highest level of King County government time and time again. You may remember back in 2007 King County Council members Dow Constantine and Julia Patterson drafted and passed ordinance 15801 revising KCC Title 11: Animal Control Code. Contained in 15801 was a provision to reconvene the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The Guild favored this move hoping much needed resources would be provided in order to allow officers to serve the public and the animals in our care at a much higher level than ever before. Do a little research and you will find this did not happen.
The last time the Citizen’s Advisory Committee convened in the 1990s King County Animal Care and Control served only 800,000 residents with 36 Animal Control Officers. Today we serve over 1.2 million residents with less than 30 officers. The County Council historically has not increased the Animal Control budget, but has reduced it substantially over time except for one time money of which little was earmarked for staffing. This includes 2008 and 2009, whereas, the Council mandated reducing the euthanasia rates in half to 20% in 2008 and 15% in 2009. Where did the money go? Here is a little hint, make a request to see what the Executive requested in his budgets and compare it to the final budget by the Council.
Now I am sure you are asking why this is important. Let us focus on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee for a moment. The committee make up from the 1990s was much different than today. Funny thing is if you go to the KCACC website you no longer can find a link for the current Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Approximately five of the members took a leave of absence in 2008 and the Council did not want to allow the remaining members (more supportive of KCACC and its mission) to continue working on improving care and service to the citizens and the animals.
If you refer to the 2008 KCACC Operational Master Plan and take a look at appendix C you will see a list of the Citizen’s Advisory Members. Pay close attention to the following:
Julie White – Chair -Past President of FCSNP (former Pres of Friends of KCACC) (not on original). Taken from the now defunct KCACC CAC bio page: Julie joined Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project in September of 2005 as Executive Director. Before joining FCSNP, she was the west coast community program manager for Best Friends Animal Society's national "No More Homeless Pets" campaign. In this position, she worked with individuals, shelters, rescue groups, and humane organizations across 15 western states and Hawaii to develop local no-kill communities. Julie has held several board positions with Friends of King County Animal Control (KCAC), including public relations director, vice president and, most recently, president.
Brenda Barnette - CEO Seattle Humane Society. Taken from the now defunct KCACC CAC bio page: After a nationwide search, Brenda F. Barnette was named Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of Seattle/King County on June 1, 2006. Before joining Seattle Humane Society Brenda's achievements include: Development Director at The San Francisco SPCA, led the successful campaign to build the world-class Maddie's Pet Adoption Center Client Services Manager at the San Francisco SPCA in charge of all on-site adoptions, outreach adoptions, owner surrender and spay/neuter intake. Owner/operator of a large commercial boarding kennel for dogs and cats
Claire Davis - President Coalition for No-Kill King County (not on original)Taken from the now Defunct KCACC CAC bio page: Claire Loebs Davis is President of the Coalition for a No Kill King County, an organization started to support the King County Council's effort to lower euthanasia rates in county shelters. She is also an attorney with the firm of Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati, where her practice focuses on commercial and securities litigation and employment law, as well as pro bono projects in the field of animal law. These projects have included assisting in the drafting of the 2007 Companion Animal Protection Act, a model act designed to help communities achieve No Kill by mandating that shelters provide programs and services targeted at saving lives. Before moving to King County, Davis worked as an animal law advisor for Best Friends Animal Society, which seeks to bring about a time when homeless, unwanted animals are no longer being destroyed in the nation's shelters.
Kim Sgro - Director (at the time) Pasados Safehaven (not on original). Kim is currently a Co-Director for Coalition of No-Kill King County with Claire Davis and Brenda Barnette.
Cheryl Bell – Current President Friends of KCACC (not on original). Aside from Friends of KCAC support of No-Kill, although there is no longer a link to any related websites on their homepage, they have helped several of KCACC’s animals by paying for much needed medical care. Please continue to donate to help KCACC animals!
Ask for a copy of the original members and compare it to the present. In a nutshell the Council added certain positions and organizations in order to stack the committee in favor of No-Kill policies.
The reason this is important is the Citizens Advisory Committee, came out w/ a scathing report (this was not unanimous among all the members the others were clearly out numbered) about Animal Control then recommended hiring a consultant to evaluate KCACC. The requirements according to the RFP (request a copy and the ensuing contract) were so stringent only one person in the US qualified. This person, I am sure you guessed is Nathan Winograd. Nathan Winograd worked w/ Claire Davis assisting in the drafting of the 2007 Companion Animal Protection Act, an act designed to help communities achieve No Kill, and Brenda Barnette when she worked at the San Fransisco SPCA. Julie White worked for a short time w/ Best Friends in UT before coming back to King County. Nathan Winograd and Claire Davis are very close to Best Friends where Nathan publishes a blog. Julie White was on Friends of KCACC board before going to FCSNP and was still on their board when appointed to the Citizens Advisory Committee. Julie White when she was with the Feral Cat Spay and Neuter Project sponsored and made the arrangements for Nathan Winograd’s book signing tour in November of 2007 while currently serving as the chair of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. Kim Sgro, Claire Davis and Brenda Barnette also make up the board of directors of the Coalition for No-Kill King County. Claire Davis and Kim Sgro are also the directors of KCACC Exposed (this is a very hostile vulgar site). If you want copies of the incorporation papers write WA State Secretary of State.
The County Council who passed this legislation and hired Nathan Winograd went into a contract w/ an organization by the name of No Kill Solutions operated by Nathan Winograd (the only employee). The problem is according to the California Secretary of State’s office No Kill Solutions dissolved as of 2004. Remember Dow Constantine, running for King County Executive, and Julia Patterson brought this upon King County. Of course his report is very hostile and accuses the employees of KCACC of horrible crimes. If you read any of the other reports he has done on other jurisdictions they read almost exactly the same. The following is a list of the so called model No-Kill shelters used for comparison in King County’s legislation: San Francisco, California Tompkins County, New York Tompkins County, New York Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Reno, Nevada Charlottesville, Virginia Some others not mentioned Indianapolis, Indiana San Antonio, Texas Houston, TX
At one point in the report and on his televised testimony Nathan Winograd accuses the employees of neglect and other horrible acts. I come to find out later after a cruelty complaint was filed against the Animal Control employees Nathan tells the investigating officer he was surprised the police were investigating possible crimes at the facility. Nathan also stated he did not observe or find any criminal activity in his lengthy inspections. Did you read this anywhere in the propaganda? As you can see the damage had already been done, but it goes on.
Last year the Guild was forwarded an e-mail from a supportive citizen received from Dow Constantine’s office shortly after the Winograd report was released. Contained in this e-mail were more unproven malicious accusations from Constantine himself about the hard working shelter employees. The Guild decided to request the names and contact information of all the persons whom he sent these accusations. Constantine’s office only sent one copy of the original e-mail saying it was only sent to one person followed by several other generic e-mails. The Guild also request the method of investigation he conducted to assure the accusations were based on fact before he ‘published’ them , only to be told they did not have to provide this information.
Remember the Volunteer Veterinarians who supposedly came in to save the day? Would it interest you one of them has ties to Kim Sgro (big surprise) and Dow Constantine’s Chief of Staff, Sharon Nelson. Sharon Nelson, who is also a WA State Representative, told me personally she was responsible for bringing in the veterinarians. Obviously she thought I was going to thank her when she told me this, but I am sure I disappointed her when I explained it would have been a great idea if they were not brought in to do exactly what they did, fabricate more smoke and mirrors to further damage the reputations of the Animal Control Employees. Here is some advice, when you live in a glass house, you know the rest.
This same veterinarian has made numerous accusations against the KCACC shelter employees including, “delaying them for two hours on the first day they arrived” and conducting a “mass killing” of shelter animals without any evidence to support the allegations. No big surprise Sharon Nelson (remember her, Dow Constantine’s Chief-of-staff) reported this to a local police department stating the veterinarians were denied entry and when they returned they checked cat cages to find many were empty. Wow, certainly a smoking gun! What you are not being told is the King County Department of Public Health has audited KCACC euthanasia records and found no evidence of illegal activity. The State of Washington and the Federal Government has very strict guidelines on the handling and recording of controlled substances. Both the State of Washington Board of Pharmacy and the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) have audited our records and did not find any falsification of records or any other intentional deviation of controlled substances which is considered a felony.
Coming full circle, back to Brenda Barnette and the Seattle Humane Society, let’s recap: She sat on the KCACC Citizen’s Advisory Committee and came out with a scathing report defaming KCACC employees. She is a Co-Director of the Coalition for No-kill King County also with a seat on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. She worked with Nathan Winograd who worked with her and Claire Davis and came out with another scathing report attacking the KCACC employees. Are you getting the pattern?
As early as October 6, 2008 KC Council was already talking about giving animal services to the Humane Society so this is only news if you haven’t been paying attention. One might go as far as saying this was the goal from the beginning of this Council’s failed policy. So now Brenda is desperate to take over operations so she continues to regurgitate the same recycled allegations of inadequate care and other nonsense. Did you read in there she is expecting $2,000,000 from King County taxpayers to upgrade her shelter? Looks like the KC Council had this in mind as well. Can this be considered a gift of County funds?
Just so you know, the Seattle Humane Society and any legitimate rescue agency can come to the King County animal shelters and rescue animals at any time at no cost to them. The issue with the Seattle Humane Society is they want the County to pay them to take animals so Barnette keeps repeating she will not take our animals because they are “diseased.” They will take dogs from Kern County, CA without vaccinations or health certificates, but not local animals in their own back yard. I am confidant if you contact any shelter in King County, Washington State and the US you will find they have and are treating sick animals including the Seattle Humane Society. According to Brenda Barnette, “This is the cost of doing busine………saving animals lives!” Animals come in to the shelter sick and can easily become sick in a shelter environment. When is the last time your child caught something from a daycare or school? Does this mean the employees of the daycare are negligent or violating the law? No, it means your child was exposed to a sick child in the daycare who may or may not have been showing any symptoms when they arrived.
I am sure it will not surprise you to know Brenda Barnette also stopped selling King County pet licenses starting the beginning of 2009. This realizes a loss of around $100,000.00 dollars to the King County Animal Care and Control program! Where is the outrage from Dow and Julia over this?
When all is said and done, the notion of closing KCACC and giving it to SHS was contemplated and set in motion way before Title 11 was revised. What I have outlined is the fall-out, but no-one expected KCACC to step up to the challenge and meet the mandates. Funny Dow and Julia have never publically recognized this. One last thought where are the auditor’s reports? I speculate they are not too provocative, so they will not come out until after the election!
I hope you and your readers find this information useful. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Sgt. John Diel
Animal Control Officer’s Guild