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For the second time this year, Friday Harbor Animal Shelter helps animals from outside area

Leslie Byron holds one of the cats in the Friday Harbor Animal Shelter. The shelter is housing animals from the King County Animal Shelter.  - Jane K. Fox
Leslie Byron holds one of the cats in the Friday Harbor Animal Shelter. The shelter is housing animals from the King County Animal Shelter.
— image credit: Jane K. Fox

Leslie Byron says it was a quiet summer for the Friday Harbor Animal Shelter. With a marmalade cat at her ankles and Halloween pumpkins at the door, the place does exude a certain peace.

The quiet, however, has not outlasted fall. With the news of King County attempting to relinquish charge of its animal shelters, Byron knew she had to do something.

"It's because of budget cuts," explains Byron, when asked what went wrong in King County. The prospect of so many animals being euthanized because they lacked a home, was insupportable to her.

The answer? Do what Byron does best; take the animals in. King County has two shelters, one in Bellevue and one in Kent. Byron visited the latter.

"We decided that since we had only two dogs in house and were very low on kittens and cats, we could go down there and see if we could help. When we got down there they told us they had 50 dogs and about 300 cats. We spent about two hours assessing the animals to see the ones we could bring back."

Byron's concern for the animals was mediated by caution. She had to be careful about what animals would be appropriate for the island community.

"We could really only take animals we knew we could place" she explains. "The majority of the dogs were pit bulls, and due to an incident on the island we just have a problem finding homes for them here. So we ended up bringing five dogs and eight kittens back, so far we have placed two of the dogs and four of the kittens."

According to Byron, King County houses about 12,000 animals a year. The organization is hoping to find a non-profit to take it over so this huge number of animals would still have a place to go. After all, San Juan cannot absorb the entirely of King's four-legged population, although Orcas Island shelter is also taking some on.

Byron says King County intends to try and be out of the animal shelter business by April. She and her staff are considering another trip south to collect more animals, but it depends on how fast they can find homes for the ones they already have.

On Saturday, the shelter is having a Halloween open house. They encourage costumes for both kids and dogs. It is a chance to meet some of the animals, have some treats and have some fun.

This is the second time this year the shelter has accommodated animals from outside the county. In January, the shelter placed a total of 10 small dogs from the puppy mill raid in Snohomish County.

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