Back in 1999 when Mom adopted the two cats she signed them up for the lifetime pet license tags offered to pet owners over 65. Mom and cats are still going strong 14 years later (which I would assume still qualifies as within the “lifetime” term of the contract).
Today she was billed $15.00 each for new lifetime tags. What? How can this be, you ask. Well, awhile back the City of Burien in it’s infinite wisdom decided to terminate their contract with King County Animal Control, contracting instead with a private business called CARES Animal Control – a business that so far has shown, let’s say, a mixed performance. In fact it is the opinion of many Burien residents that we have what amounts to zero animal control services these days.
I called City of Burien to find out why Mom is being asked to buy a second “lifetime” for her cats. (Though I realize cats are expected to have nine lives each I hadn’t realized they were going to have to pay a fee for each one of them!) The response from Ms City of Burien? Mom has the option of not licensing her cats – but CARES does not honor previous contracts with King County Animal Control and charges a (get this) $250.00 fine for unlicensed pets. In other words they are extorting $30 bucks from a 99 year old woman and there’s not a thing she can do but pony up or face a $500.00 fine. And if she does pay up, what’s to say these oh-so-caring people aren’t going to break this new “lifetime” contract as easily as they did the last one?
Of course I’ll pay this for her myself but how many other elderly Burien residents on fixed incomes are going to be punished financially because they are sharing their later years with a loving cat or two?
POSTSCRIPT: Since I posted this yesterday it has been suggested that I call the director of CARES and perhaps if I talk nicely to her she might grant Mom a waiver. I hardly need to point out how totally unacceptable a waiver would be. Unless CARES agrees to grandfather in (or in this case grandmother in) the previously purchased lifetime pet tags of Burien’s elderly citizens there will be no justice. I will of course call CARES next week on the chance that this has all been a complete misunderstanding – a failure to communicate. But if indeed the City of Burien is exploiting it’s elderly I won’t be backing down any time soon on this issue. At that point maybe it will be time to (as friends have suggested) call Jessie Jones at King 5. Will keep you posted.