By Becky Washington/For The Independent
The North Eastern Washington Humane Society is preparing for a June regular membership meeting. Always open to the public, these meetings are held every other month. NEWHS is short on members right now, and welcomes folks with a passion to serve the community, and seek humane treatment of animals. We have jobs for you, you can believe that!
Discussion of fund raisers, possible speaking engagements, property searches and wishful shelter planning, are the usual conversations at these meetings, but June might be a little different! The month of May started with a huge seizure of dogs from a property near Clayton. Fantastic media coverage made everyone aware of this case! Just weeks later, another seizure of 23 animals from a different Stevens County residence took place. So, the topic at June’s meeting might be what can be done differently in the future!
Let’s look at how these horrific situations came to be, what steps were taken to get these animals into a safer place, and how we can put a stop to this activity in our county.
First, “How this can happen” is our county’s RCWs concerning dogs. Stevens County goes by Washington State’s RCWs, which allow legal ownership of 50 intact dogs. YES, that is FIFTY, and puppies under 6 months don’t even count. Other counties in this state have drastically lowered that number, charging a fee to those who want to breed and own a kennel. I hope we can all agree that 50 is too many dogs for anyone! In Spokane County, only four dogs and/or four cats can legally be owned without a kennel license. So, the “HOW” we can make this more difficult is to CHANGE the RCWs in Stevens County! This will take discussion, debate, agreement and maybe voting for new officials who support such an effort.
Next, to get these animals into a safer place, what steps had to be taken? The SCSD deputies had to scramble. They started calling rescue groups to see who had time to voluntarily house this many animals. Becky’s Best Buddies could not facilitate a rescue this large! Jamie McAtee, from Rescue4All in Spokane, coordinated the intake of the over 30 dogs. She had time, but no room for that many dogs. A deputy secured the Clayton Fairgrounds for temporary housing. Assisted by HART, the HSUS, BrightSide Animal Center and other humane organizations, these dogs were transferred to care/adoption facilities within a week! The first dog was adopted out last week. Ms. McAtee did Stevens County a huge service because of her passion for the dogs.
Two weeks later, our organization (NEWHS) assisted with the next seizure…horses, goats, sheep, dogs, cats, ducks, chickens and cows. Our Secretary/Treasurer coordinated the intake of these animals. Volunteers hauled and housed these critters until they could legally be adopted. This was stressful for the deputies and the volunteers. In other counties, Animal Control would come in to oversee intake and care for the animals in both these situations. The resources to care for them would be part of a county budget…which is another reason why other counties have made their RCWs more restrictive – they don’t want to get into this type of situation! Deputies would not be tying up their time with these seizures, and rescues would be called for fostering just a select few animals to prepare them to be adopted to the public.
So, this may be a point of discussion, along with our spay/neuter partnership with Spokane Humane Society and a few upcoming fundraisers. Will you come to share your thoughts? The meeting will be held June 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Chewelah Casino. Contact Secretary Becky Washington at 509-463-4040 for more information or contact us through Facebook at North Eastern Washington Humane Society.