Opinion

Charity in motion, no rest for Rotarians after Rotary Run

Bo Darling
Island Forum

After throwing an Island gathering on March 9 for 4,000 to run their soles off for charity, about a dozen Rotarians at Secret Park last Saturday dismantled the igloo that had outlived its intended purpose and become a nuisance.

Some workers then popped over to Forest Ridge School for lunch to help raise funds for projects in Uganda. Meanwhile, in other corners of our community, Scott Bowen sought applicants for vocational scholarships; some of our members Walked for Water, put on by another club in West Seattle; and our Planet Earth committee geared up for a presentation on Earth Day, April 22, to raise awareness about waste-to-energy — to recycle and incinerate garbage when the Cedar Hill landfill eventually closes.

You might think of us as fleas on a hot rock. But I prefer the metaphor that Paul Harris used about Rotary — “the sum total of contributions of thousands of little brooks and rivulets, which come tumbling down the hillsides and mountains, singing as they go, eager to cast themselves into the channel of the great river.”

It all came together on March 29 — Rotary World Day of Service — when more than a million Rotarians put their humanitarian convictions into action.

Here at home, MI Rotary Club is active with First Harvest to distribute food to the hungry; supports literacy projects at home and abroad; sponsors a teen Interact Club and its projects, a Student of the Month recognition program and student international exchanges. More than a dozen of us bring our four-way test to eighth-graders on the Island, giving them the framework to make ethical decisions as they prepare for high school.

We plant trees in Rotary Park, deliver meals to house-bound families, provide drivers and activities for seniors, ring bells with the Salvation Army, help the Lions sell Christmas trees and put on a pancake breakfast at Summer Celebration — and more.

We send bicycles, wheelchairs, computers and concerned contingents to Third World countries to help with health, clean water, polio eradication and education projects.

No, I’m not going to ask you for money. But we invite you to submit your requests (president@mirotary.com) for needed support from us for next year. Because when our 140-some members, a cross-section of business and organization leaders, put their minds and hearts to work collectively, we are an awesome task force to meet the world — and our own community — head-on.

Bo Darling is a member of the Mercer Island Rotary Club and an Island resident. The Rotary Run grossed around $200,000 this year. For more information and updated results, go to www.mirotary.org.

Report shows neglect and suffering at King County animal shelters

Craig Groshart
Island Forum

Here’s what King County calls proper treatment of animals in its shelters:

  • Dismal shelter conditions and animal-care protocols, resulting in lack of humane care that borders on animal neglect.

  • Continual outbreaks of disease that indicate lack of proper cleaning and vaccination protocols.

  • Animals allowed to suffer for lack of medical treatment.

  • Missed opportunities to save the lives of animals or properly respond to calls for service.

    It’s no wonder that a consultant has called for the county to get out of the animal care and control business and let a private agency do the work.

    Nathan Winograd, who runs the No Kill Advocacy Center in San Clemente, Calif., issued a blistering report this week on the sad state of the county’s animal care operation. His 147-page report, complete with photographs, paints a shocking picture.

    (To read the consultant’s full report, go to www.kingcounty.gov/council.aspx.)

    Winograd made two visits to the county’s shelters in Bellevue and Kent. The first, unannounced, was on Jan. 30. The second, pre-scheduled, came Feb. 18-21. The news was dreadful on both occasions.

    Animal holding spaces were inadequately cleaned, staff displayed ignorance of basic animal care and behavior, and some animals went more than 24 hours without food and water, Winograd said in his report.

    Winograd added that the county’s executive branch has “overlooked and ignored well over a decade’s worth of neglect and poor leadership” at animal control.

    During this time, the executive’s office was assuring the County Council that the agency had a “model animal control program” and was a “recognized leader” in animal control.

    The exact opposite appears to be the case. As Winograd notes, “animals are not being fed, care is poor, and suffering is the norm.”

    None of this is new. The same problems that plagued the shelter 10 years ago plague the agency today, Winograd said.

    Part of the problem apparently rests with the facilities themselves. The Kent shelter was built in 1975 as a place to warehouse and kill dogs away from residential areas of the county. It’s now in an industrial zone, making it difficult to attract people to come and adopt dogs.

    At both the Kent and Bellevue facilities, the outside grounds are dirty and in disrepair. Winograd uses the word “filthy” to describe them.

    Inside, things are worse. Winograd notes there are few systems in place to prevent animals who are healthy from becoming sick; “in fact, many practices at the shelter make illness nearly inevitable,” he said.

    We would like to believe that the county is prepared to fix the problems, but given the years of inattention, that seems unlikely. If King County can’t or won’t do the job right, the task needs to be given to those who will. As Winograd notes, the county’s animal control operation “has failed the animals.”

    Craig Groshart is the editor of the Bellevue Reporter and former editorial page editor at the King County Journal.

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