Kitsap Humane Society addresses 'gap in communication'

Kitsap County Commissioners directed county staff on Wednesday to draw up a temporary contract extension with the Kitsap Humane Society for animal control services.

The contract extension will cost $189,942 — half of the allocated budget for animal control in 2012 — and run through July, said Eric Baker, the special projects manager for the board of county commissioners.

Baker said rumors of internal turmoil at KHS and concerns about the agency fulfilling public records requests may have held back a full contract extension. But he sees the KHS board as headed in the right direction.

“From my perspective I feel that they (the Humane Society) are going to move in a deliberate manner to sort out the issues that have occurred in the last few months,” he said. “They will hire the right people.”

Kitsap Humane Society board members Rosemary Shaw and Larry Novell stood alongside interim executive director Eric Stevens and acknowledged to the county commissioners that KHS is in a period of transition, but that the organization was capable of handling its animal control obligations.

Commissioner Robert Gel-der said the main concern of commissioners is the lack of information from the Humane Society regarding animal control numbers in the past year.  Given the contract with KHS, he said, the board needed to be totally sure the county was getting the services it pays for.

“We need to keep the lines of communication open,” Gelder said. “We need to make sure we are getting the necessary service data.”

The material presented to commissioners Wednesday included acknowledgment of a “gap in communication by KHS board to wider community.”

The directors’ presentation included the number of animals picked up by KHS animal control officers, information about the appointment of an interim public records officer, and acknowledgment that Jake Shapley, the former director of animal control at KHS, is no longer with the nonprofit.

Gelder said he hopes to see more from the board in the way of open communication.

“The presentation was very thoughtful,” he said. “They went over the basics of issues at hand. I’m confident they will reach out and provide more information.”

However, both Baker and Gelder said the KHS directors remained relatively mum about the recent change in management, including the departure of executive director Sean Compton.

Gelder said the commissioners were told internal issues would soon come to light, and that the commission did not have much sway in such struggles if contractual obligations were being fulfilled.

“We didn’t get the reasons behind their choices and decisions for change, but that’s beyond the scope of what we do,” he said. “When it impacts the services provided, then it could become our concern.”


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