Redmond animal rescue forced to relocate after building was deemed unsafe
The City of Redmond is tearing down the building for Motley Zoo Animal Rescue due to significant structural issues, leaving the rescue center without a home.
Jme Thomas, the Executive Director of Motley Zoo Animal Rescue, said structural damage was revealed within the building over the summer when working on repairing the air conditioner.
“As they explained to me, trying to fix the problems would lead to bigger problems and therefore, they had to make a tough call,” Thomas said. “We know it’d pretty much be an entire rebuild, which we understand is not feasible, and frankly, we would never even imagine the city should do that for us. They just can’t favor us with city funds.”
The building is scheduled for demolition in January.
“The City of Redmond did not neglect anything, nor did they hide anything from us,” Thomas said. “They are just as surprised, disappointed, and frustrated as we are because they really love having us here. The building is just old.”
The building was purchased from a private owner, the initial landlord, in 2018 by the City of Renton. Thomas stated that the company had a great relationship working with the city.
Since its inception in 2009, Motley Zoo is primarily comprised of volunteers who use their spare time to help animals find permanent homes. While the physical rescue building is closing, the virtual rescue services Motley Zoo provides will still be active.
Foster-based rescues consist of a network of volunteers working in their spare time, coordinating the care and adoption of animals online. The animals are housed in the homes of volunteers, called fosters, who take care of the animals’ individual needs.
“Initially, we operated for five years virtually, which is what most foster-based rescues do,” Thomas said. “However, going back to that kind of functionality now would be extremely crippling to our mission since we have come to rely so heavily on the facility and how it improves our capacity and efficiency. We are a better rescue because of this facility and what we’ve done with it.”
Besides daycare and typical obedience, Motley Zoo also provides rehabilitative training.
“There are not enough behaviorists or organizations to take in all the dogs with fixable issues, so through our services, we help people keep their dogs and work with them effectively, but we need a regular place to work from even if that’s all we pare down our services to,” Thomas said.
The relocation process has already proven difficult. Many Redmond building owners won’t lease to Motley Zoo because of the dogs, according to Thomas. When property owners were ok with dogs, prices were unsustainable or zoning didn’t align.
“It’s the location that really makes the difference because of the symbiotic programs/system we’ve created,” Thomas said. “It isn’t really ‘moving’ if we leave Redmond, it’d be starting over fresh in a new town. And likely more than a year before the services could be profitable again.”
But the term “zoo” comes from the rescue’s willingness to take in most animals — as long as they have the supplies for them — including smaller animals and occasional livestock alongside cats and dogs. This flexibility only makes it more difficult to find a proper vacancy.
Motley Zoo has rehomed more than 4,300 animals since 2009.
“The long-term solution to this growing crisis is not to house more animals (there could never be enough organizations to accommodate them either way), it’s to make more capable owners so they can keep the dogs they have,” Thomas said. “Without our facility, we lose that capacity and the problem only grows.”