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Roy resident Diana Crimi addressed the Yelm City Council during the public comment period on Tuesday, April 8th. Since only staff and I were in the audience, Mayor Harding allowed her the whole 15 minutes to comment. Mrs. Crimi raised some very startling issues about the Yelm Animal Shelter as well as some fine suggestions. I asked her to write a report for the Yelm Community Blog readers, which follows unabridged:

“It started out with a simple call from a lady asking me to please look at a dog in the Yelm Dog Pound and escalated into frustration and heartache. When I arrived at the pound and asked to see the dog, the woman behind the desk said she was sure the dog had already been picked up by Thurston County and wouldn’t still be out back. I asked if we could at least check and see if she might still be there. The woman said again she was sure the dog was gone by now. I had the strong feeling she didn’t want to walk to the back building to look but I said please lets check. Imagine her surprise when she found the dog was still there.

The dog was a Shepherd Lab mix. She was very young, a little too excited, a little too frantic and a little too skinny for anyone to pay much attention to for adoption. So, on March 21, 2008 she was sentenced to the Thurston County Shelter where she was to be destroyed. Her life would end before she was eight months old. I spent about a half hour with her. She had such a sweet disposition.

I couldn’t walk away knowing she would be dead that night if she was not saved now. It was Good Friday and I asked the lady if I could please have her time extended until Monday and I would pick her up then. The woman said “No”.

It was about an hour before closing and I told the woman I needed time to find a place for her to stay. “You know they’ll put her to sleep when she gets to the Thurston Shelter” The woman said, “I know.” I begged a little, “Couldn’t you please change the date to the 24th and give her a second chance”? “I can’t make those changes”, she said.

So, I asked to speak to the person in charge of this facility. I told him I just needed a couple days and I promised to pick her up Monday or Tuesday. I reminded him she would be put to sleep if he let Thurston pick her up tonight. He said he knew that and then he said “We’ll keep her until 5:00 PM Wednesday and then she goes”. I was thankful for the extended time.

I found a wonderful home for that dog and she’s now happily living on ten acres in Vancouver. Since then, I have found homes for six dogs from that pound [Yelm’s Animal Control].

My experience with the physical care and treatment of the dogs that are impounded was extremely upsetting. Every day I went to walk the dogs, the cages were dirty and usually the water bowls were empty. I was always there between 2-3:00 PM. I cleaned their cages and gave them all water.

One day I entered the area to find blood all over the floor and saw one of the little Basset Hounds bleeding profusely from the throat. After going to the front desk and asking for medical help the woman said “We don’t do that”. When I asked what do you do when a dog comes in injured or is injured in the cage the woman said “Nothing”. I later found out that a dog came in with two toes torn off his foot and he didn’t get medical care. Unless it’s life threatening and not always then, do dogs get Veterinary care.

That was the day I rescued the two Bassets and took the injured one to my veterinarian, Dr. Jenifer Preston. She treated the little dog, cleaned the wound and gave her the necessary shots and meds. Today both little dogs are living in Roy on two and a half acres. Every dog I rescued from that pound cost $55. I told them I was working with Companion Animal Rescue Society but the woman behind the counter said we don’t give breaks to rescue groups.

I brought it to the attention of the City Council, the Mayor and Animal Control that we need the following:
– Signs that have arrows pointing to the City Dog Pound.
– Posters in strategic shopping places and in the Post Office and City Hall with the address of the pound.
– Have pictures posted on a bulletin board of found dogs and dogs up for adoption.
– Allow volunteers to help with the dogs.
– Allow dogs to be fostered so they’re not traumatized by being in the facility.
– Improve the facility where dogs are kept. The cages are too small, too cold, too drafty and too wet.
– Don’t charge rescue groups who are trying to save and rescue the dogs.
I made many more requests.

Any dog that leaves the Yelm pound and goes to Thurston County is considered surrendered by the owner and if it hasn’t been claimed or adopted within the 5 to 7 days it stays in Yelm, it is put to sleep. It was finally agreed at the Mayor’s meeting that certain dogs would go to Animal Rescue and Adoption rather than be put to sleep. Wanda Bittner has offered her services and we need volunteers to help with the care of these dogs.

The heartache for me is what is happening to dogs that go into that shelter. They are not treated humanely. A four month old puppy was kept in the cage and by the time they allowed me to adopt him he was so sick he needed veterinary care. I asked to foster the little guy but they said no. The vet said that no heat and being on a cement slab is no place for a puppy. $651 dollars later a vet clinic saved the life of the puppy.

I went to see another dog there and the cage was dirty……..”We clean the cages once a day” and even if a cage is dirty later in the day they won’t clean it. I even offered to clean the cage and the man said no.

There is no way for a dog to keep his body heat in when it’s cold outside The building is drafty and they don’t have a good place to sleep. I was told they have heat lamps but I’ve never seen any in the pound and if that’s the case why didn’t that puppy have heat?

And what about the Pit Bull mixes and the Pit Bulls? There was a sweet female mix that went in quietly and even one of the workers said she was nice but three days later she was shaking and cowering in the corner of her cage. When I had her outside and she saw a worker, she dropped to the ground and turned her head in fear. The trainer and I saw a lump on one side of her head that she didn’t have the day she first came in.

Two more Pit/ Pit mixes came into the pound and after being there a few days they too were cowering. I was told two of the workers don’t like Pits. One of the dogs was a very young male all excited and barking. He was in a pen a few feet from a female in season. The worker said the male showed signs of aggression and I could not rescue him. I think those were signs of frustration and anxiety being kept so close to the female. His last day in Yelm was Monday and he was sent to Thurston County. I imagine he is dead.

I must say that if Yelm is to be a growing community it must take into consideration all avenues and that includes the proper facility and the humane treatment of all dogs. If there is an Animal Control Division then they should offer humane care and treatment for the dogs. I invite anyone to stop by the Public Works office and take a look at the dog pound. The floors and rubber mats are wet and the building is drafty and cold. And while you’re there you might consider adopting a dog.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil. If enough people complain maybe things will improve for our beloved dogs.”

Mrs. Crimi reports that she and others met with Mayor Harding and were told recommendations will be made to the City Council later this year.
The shelter is located at 901 Rhoton Rd. and is open from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.
For more information, call 458-8406.

King County was reprimanded last month as reported by the Seattle P-I,
“In a report released Monday [March 24] that is harshly critical of King County Executive Ron Sims, a consultant to the County Council reluctantly recommends that the county get out of the animal care and control business and turn the job over to a private agency.

‘King County Animal Care and Control has failed the animals, and there is no credible evidence to the contrary, if history and present actions are any guide, that it will not continue to fail the animals in the years to come,’ consultant Nathan Winograd writes in his 147-page report.”

Then on April 11th, the P-I reports,
“After weeks of feuding over animal shelters, Metropolitan King County Council leaders and County Executive Ron Sims have agreed on a plan aimed at increasing animal adoptions and reducing the number of dogs and cats killed at the shelters.”

The Metropolitan King County Council held a town-hall meeting on animal shelters and animal control on Monday, April 14th. A pet-adoption fair was held outside.

Quoting Yelm Mayor Ron Harding in the NVN of April 25, 2008,
“We’ll most likely be making a recommendation to the council later this year.”

Later this year?
King County Executive Ron Sims moved from a negative report on March 24th to unveiling a plan on April 11, and a Town Hall with the public on April 14 about this same issue – all in three weeks.

Yelm’s Mayor says “most likely” a recommendation will go to the Council later this year.
What does THAT mean? “Most likely” ???
With no outrage here, the public will not see the movement King County’s Executive did in just 3 week!


Posted by Steve on April 26, 2008 at 6:07 am | Permalink

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  1. I have seen the atrocities at the Yelm Shelter first hand. Diana has tried to work with the mayor, to no avail. I joined the meeting with the mayor and offered my assistance as a pet store owner in Tenino (nearly 50% of our patrons are Yelm residents) We have offered our assistance with food, donations, and volunteers, to which the mayor replied “We do not need your help.”
    I am fostering the female pit that Diana mentioned in her article, so as to spare her life. She is a sweet dog, she just wants a real home with loving companions. As it is impossible to save all the dogs, I would like to help as much as I can, with the help of our foster sign ups and volunteers.
    It is true, the front desk attendee as well as the “animal control” officers were rude and apathetic to the condition of the shelter and the care of the dogs. I was shocked by their attitude and refusal to work with us in helping the dogs.
    Rainier has been the forefront to true animal care and compassion in their shelter. Their runs are larger and kept clean and warm. We recently sponsored a pet play day where we were able to raise money to help them improve the conditions even more.
    I recently met with the mayor and council of Tenino and they overwhelmingly supported expanding and improving the conditions of their shelter. They also showed the compassion and care of true civic minded officials.
    Unfortunately, the Yelm mayor seems to have put economic development above anything else. These pets are our companions and part of our families. The lost pets have been family members and should be treated as such. At least give them a safe, warm place to wait for their owners or foster care.

    Comment by Laura Patterson on April 27, 2008 at 5:30 pm

  2. I’m a business owner in the local area and feel it is time we all come together and do something to change these conditions. We can all help to stop the closed eyes and ears of those that can simply turn away. Please help today!
    If you would like to start a group to get involved please contact Liquid Soul Cafe in McKenna.
    Together we are strong.

    Comment by Barbara on April 27, 2008 at 7:55 pm

  3. I will be contacting Liquid Soul Cafe. If we could organize a group of people willing to help care for the dogs and better the conditions at the shelter we could be giving these dogs a second chance. We could handle humane dog care and set up a program for volunteers to help. I’ve been in contact with Animal Control Officers from King and Pierce County and they’ve given me good ideas. I’ve also spoken with veterinary assistants and a veterinarian who can give us guidance. There are training programs available and Debbie Harp, a professional dog trainer, is willing to teach a class in handling dogs in the shelter.

    I certainly hope we can get enough people to develope and run a successful volunteer program for the Yelm Animal Shelter. Lets get a sign up list at the Liquid Soul Cafe and plan a meeting. The more people who get together to help the better job we can do.

    Maybe if enough of us go to a City Council Meeting they’ll have to listen to us.

    In the meantime, maybe the city will put up some signs with arrows pointing in the direction of the Yelm Animal Shelter so people will know where to look for their lost dogs.

    Diana Crimi

    Comment by Diana Crimi on April 28, 2008 at 6:55 am

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