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Testimony to Kiing County Council

May 2008 Barker

     
 

Testimony in April 14, 2008 6:30 PM To King County Council

Good Evening – Chairman Constantine and King County Council members:
My name is Dr. Bo Gloster and I’ve come here tonight to lend my enthusiastic support to your efforts on behalf of King County animals and the outstanding work of King County Animal Control staff, but at the same time to express a few reservations or at least ask a few questions.

I am representing a number of dog and animal organizations today. First I am the King County represen-tative of the National Animal Interest Alliance, a broad based national organization whose role it is to provide a moderate, balanced, fact-based perspective within the animal welfare debate. We are proud to represent a wide variety of animal interests including dog and cat enthusiasts, agriculture, wildlife man-agement, veterinarians and pet owners across America. I am also an active member of several Washing-ton State Kennel Clubs and a charter member and current treasurer of the Mount Rainier Working Dog Club, an organization whose members keep and cherish some of the wonderful breeds that today, in some circles and communities, find themselves on the other side of poorly crafted ordinances. I am Show Chairman for a large dog show held annually in August at King County’s Marymoor Park, an event to which I had the pleasure of welcoming Ms. Lambert last year. This is organized and sponsored by the Sammamish Kennel Club, on whose Board I also sit.

I am also interested in animal issues from the perspective of a retired emergency medicine physician, who knows the value of animal control and its role protecting public health and safety from dangerous and diseased animals. Because of the confluence of my two passions, emergency medicine and a devo-tion to dogs, I was appointed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, an organization of 45,000 physicians, to be its representative to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Task Force on Canine-Human Aggression. This group published several years ago, in the Veterinary literature, “A Community Approach to Dog Bite Prevention.” I have felt for all of my professional career that the Emergency Departments of this state and its Animal Control facilities have a connected mission in at-tending to the public welfare, the public safety, and, frankly, public education.
Wearing all these hats, I strongly support the construction of a new shelter. It’s badly overdue and the council is to be congratulated for getting behind this effort.

We also support both hiring more personnel to staff the shelter, as well as expanding field operations and greater community outreach for education and expanded spay neuter. These are all necessary im-provements that will advance the best interests of King County residents, both people and animals.

On the other hand, while I strongly encourage working with rescue organizations and other humane groups and societies, I do not believe that it is in the best interest of the country to privatize its shelter. To reemphasize, municipal shelters have a vital role to play in protecting public health and safety, in en-forcing cruelty laws and in providing shelter for the county’s homeless animals. We have a very diverse population, and it is with the input of citizens that ordinances and statues are developed. We do not be-lieve that any part of this role should be delegated or contracted to an outside body that operates from its own mission. To do so would violate the chain of command from animal control officer to the elected offi-cials who oversee them. Private organizations operate from a mission which would likewise be compro-mised if brought under the umbrella of government.

Finally, the recommendation includes mention of an oversight “job/shadower” position. While I can’t honestly say I understand what that position is, I want to urge that the $85,000 that is budgeted for that position be spent instead on animal care staff or further renovations to facilities. The record of this shel-tering organization over the last 30 years is a good one and should be bolstered by more staff and other resources.

Bo Gloster, MD (Robert C. Gloster)
American Board of Internal Medicine
American Board of Emergency Medicine
NAIA Representative
Sammamish Kennel Club
Mount Rainier Working Dog Club

 
     
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