(The Center Square) – Two members of the Spokane City Council, Michael Cathcart and Karen Stratton, responded Friday to constituent concerns about unethical treatment at Spokane County Regional Animal Protective Service, or SCRAPS.

Community groups and former workers have, according to the city, expressed concerns about whether the shelter is adhering to its no-kill guidelines. Specifically, issues have been raised regarding SCRAPS Director Jesse Ferrari and the euthanasia decisions made under his leadership.

“We are firmly committed to addressing constituent concerns based on allegations raised by current and former SCRAPS employees and volunteers regarding recent incidents of animal euthanasia, unethical animal treatment, and whistleblower retaliation reported at Spokane County Regional Animal Protective Services (SCRAPS),” Cathcart said in a joint news release with Stratton. “If true, as Council Members, we are concerned these actions violate the terms of the City of Spokane’s interlocal agreement for animal control services related explicitly to determinations for euthanasia. This is an incredibly timely issue, and it’s frustrating we must take this step; however, we’re left with very few options at our disposal.”

Stratton added, “As Council Members, we have attempted to take legislative steps to bring accountability and relief by meeting with SCRAPS and Spokane County leadership and sending a letter requesting an investigation and code changes. Unfortunately, these efforts have not resulted in any satisfactory outcomes. The Spokane City Council must enact stronger policies with clear expectations to ensure transparency and promote ethical practices relating to citizen demand for animal protection and control.”

The Center Square reached out to Ferrari for comment.

He referred The Center Square to a same-day news release put out by SCRAPS.

“We take allegations of this nature very seriously, but to do date no evidence has been brought forward to support these claims," Ferrari said in the news release. "To be clear, SCRAPS does not euthanize animals due to capacity issues. A dog who causes severe injury to a human, kills another domestic animal, or engages in other harmful behavior prohibited by law may be deemed ‘dangerous’ and impounded in the name of public safety. Humane euthanasia is only employed as a last resort."

He went on to say, “SCRAPS has attempted to address the constituent concerns brought forth by Councilmembers Cathcart and Stratton by initially inviting them both to the facility in May 2023 for a firsthand look at SCRAPS’ operations, and to review our policies in action. To date they have not taken us up on that invitation. SCRAPS is confident we are meeting our agreed upon contractual obligations.”

Cathcart and Stratton have prepared an ordinance that would ensure animals are euthanized only when necessary and not just when the shelter does not have the space to care for them.

The city council’s Urban Experience Committee is set to review the ordinance on Monday, with a possible vote before the city council as an emergency ordinance on Sept. 18.

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