Gail Mackie has had good news to howl about in recent months.
SpokAnimal C.A.R.E.’s executive director since 1986 has seen her nonprofit organization expand into modern new facilities next to its longtime North Side home. In addition, she has overseen the opening of a long-awaited Spokane dog park.
Yet uncertainty about the future of animal control in Spokane County has compounded what has been a persistent problem for the folks who provide dog-catching and other services for the city of Spokane: Confusion about who they are and what they do.
Q. What’s the biggest misconception about SpokAnimal and its mission?
A. People don’t realize that we’re also a Humane Society. The other thing is having three agencies (SpokAnimal, SCRAPS and the Spokane Humane Society) that deal with animals is totally confusing to people.
Q. How big a slice of your funding pie does the city contract represent?
A. Sixty, 65 percent.
Q. What’s your biggest challenge?
A. Cats. We’ve done a wonderful job in placing dogs and getting them back to their owners. But cats keep multiplying, and addressing that with sterilization clinics and other programs is a major focus this year.
Q. Why don’t people here get their cats fixed?
A. I’ve been in this business a long time and I don’t have a clue. Unfixed cats are not a pleasure to live with. But we are a fairly rural-thinking larger city.
Q. Speaking of rural life, how many cats have you sent off to be rodent control consultants at area farms?
A. Almost 500 so far.
Q. What’s your estimate of the compliance with Spokane’s pet-licensing requirement?
A. With dogs and cats combined, around 40 to 45 percent.
Q. Of what are you proudest?
A. I’m most proud of my staff and the job they’re doing. Their goal is the same as mine: to get those animals out our front door, whether they be adopted, reclaimed or transferred to another facility.
Q. How would you characterize your relationship with SCRAPS and the Spokane Humane Society?
A. We all work together as a team. There’s mutual respect.
Q. Considering that not all the animals are bound for a happy ending, how do the people who work at SpokAnimal keep from getting their hearts broken?
A. Our whole thing is that we focus on the positive. The negative still has an impact on us. But the positives far outweigh it.
Q. What advice would give a prospective pet owner?
A. Do some research. Learn about the needs, traits and health issues of different breeds. Then adopt from a shelter. All of the shelters in our area do temperament evaluations (of the animals). You can find a good match.