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Face Time: SCRAPS director talks about her agency’s mission

“I’m just the team leader here,” director Nancy Hill, center, says of her staff at Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)
“I’m just the team leader here,” director Nancy Hill, center, says of her staff at Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service. (J. Bart Rayniak / The Spokesman-Review)

Nancy Hill has been the director of Spokane County’s animal control program since 1995, well before it adopted the name SCRAPS (Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service).

She would like to see her agency handed the responsibility for animal control throughout the county, including the city of Spokane. And she wants to move her operation from its somewhat remote Spokane Valley site on Flora Road to a new home near the fairgrounds.

But while she waits for elected officials to make decisions about that, other challenges nip at her heels.

Q. How do you deal with it when you encounter the “It’s only animals” mindset?

A. I think a community is judged by the way it treats its animals. It says a lot. Animals are like young children. They don’t have a voice. They cannot speak for themselves. We have to make sure that they are properly cared for.

Q. What’s the hardest thing about your job?

A. We’re not saving all the animals yet. We’re doing fantastic on dogs. Our live release rate is upwards of 85 percent. That means most of the euthanasia of dogs is for behavioral or extreme health issues. Cats, we’re only at about 55 percent. There are just so many. And we are kind of a Band-Aid. We need the community to step up and be part of that solution.

Q. What would you say to people who don’t spay or neuter their pets because they don’t want to spend the money?

A. SCRAPS has a spay/neuter voucher program funded by a pet license surcharge. All the pet owner has to do is purchase a pet license (dog or cat) and we will give them a voucher that will offset the cost of the spay/neuter. The vouchers are accepted by any local veterinarian. SpokAnimal has a similar program. And our area has a low-cost spay/neuter clinic, Pet Savers.

Q. What’s the county’s compliance rate with the pet licensing requirement?

A. We have 41 percent of the dogs and about 15 percent of the cats licensed. So we have a lot of room to grow.

Q. You have praised your staff. What advice do you give them about dealing with the things they encounter?

A. In order to survive in this business, you have to focus on the positive. How many animals have we returned to the owner? How many have we adopted to new homes? How many people have we prosecuted for animal cruelty that really needed to be?

Q. Who should not be a pet owner?

A. I think people have to get pets for the right reasons. If people are not going to spend time with them or are not prepared for the financial aspect of owning a pet, maybe they should wait.

Q. How many times have you been bitten?

A. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t been bitten here. I’ve been attacked, but I’ve been lucky and no bites have broken the skin. Ruined a couple of coats, though.

Q. Do you have pets?

A. I do. I have two shelter dogs.

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