PAWS Magazine


Issue 51, Spring 2002


The Spay/Neuter Battle Continues in Snohomish County

When King County shelters began altering their adoptable companion animals in 1993, they joined almost all other area municipal shelters in providing this service for their animals. Seattle Animal Control, the Seattle/King County Humane Society, and the Tacoma Humane Society all spay and neuter their companion animals. PAWS has required the alteration of it's shelter animals since the first Nixon Administration. But holding out against this tide of progressive, appropriate responses to animal overpopulation are several municipalities in Snohomish County who continue to send unaltered animals back into their community.

Four facilities provide the sheltering services for Snohomish County. PAWS serves Lynnwood and parts of South Snohomish County. Adix Pet Boarding serves Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. Sheltering Arms of Arlington serves Arlington, and Everett Animal Shelter serves all of the other communities of Snohomish County, including Marysville, Lake Stevens, Everett, Snohomish, Monroe, and most unincorporated areas. Only two of these shelters, PAWS and Sheltering Arms, spay and neuter animals prior to adoption. Between Everett Animal Shelter and Adix, thousands of unaltered animals are still being sent out into the community.

Fortunately in Edmonds, there is a city councilmember dedicated to addressing the issue. Councilmember Michael Plunkett has waged a campaign for more than a year to get Edmonds ordinances changed to require the alteration of cats and dogs available for adoption from Adix.

It hasn't been easy. Plunkett has faced opposition from the owners of the Adix facility, who have indicated little interest in facilitating the spaying and neutering of the animals. Plunkett originally proposed a plan that would allow Adix to cover their additional expenses in their contract with the city. Plunkett later formulated a plan that would allow the surgeries to be paid for through a public donation fund (which PAWS has offered to provide an initial $1,000 gift). Plunkett also conceived of a volunteer plan to transport the animals to and from the participating veterinary clinics, and many Edmonds residents have indicated a strong interest in serving as volunteers. All of these efforts seemed to be wasted as the owners of Adix repeatedly threatened to drop their contract with Edmonds, and many Edmonds City Councilmembers expressed concern over the possibility of losing the contract and having to negotiate with a potentially more expensive facility.

A final vote was scheduled after this edition of PAWS magazine went to press. “We are hoping that Edmonds City Council follows their heart and does what is best for the animals of Edmonds,” said Tamar Puckett PAWS Companion Animal Advocate. “We are also hoping that the Adix family will realize that the people who support this effort are just like them; people who love animals and want to protect them.”

“The people of Edmonds have an outstanding representative in Michael Plunkett,” said Richard Huffman, PAWS Advocacy and Outreach Director. “He has shown a deep commitment to the people and animals of his community. It's heartening to see someone fight so hard on his community's behalf.”

There are no politicians in Snohomish County or Everett providing similar leadership with their own animal policies; at least not yet. The Everett Animal Shelter is located in a recently built facility. In the facility sits an available room, perfectly ready to be filled with a surgery table, anaesthesia equipment, and a veterinary staff. But for now it remains temptingly available, waiting for the political will to see it filled.

Certainly the people of Snohomish County support the alteration of shelter animals. In July of last year, PAWS surveyed Snohomish County residents about spaying and neutering. PAWS found that fully half of the respondents had no idea the extent of euthanasia going on at the Everett Shelter. Almost 90% were supportive of a plan that would require the alteration of animals that are adopted from the shelter. In a state where a 51% affirmative vote on a statewide initiative is considered a mandate, the level of support for mandatory spaying and neutering of shelter animals is extraordinary.

This spring and summer PAWS will focus its advocacy efforts towards getting Everett Animal Shelter to begin altering their animals. If you would like to support this campaign, please call Tamar Puckett at PAWS, 425.787.2500 ext. 257.

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