For local animal shelters, the warm summer months mean more animals coming in, which can fill facilities beyond their capacity.
Two groups, the Kansas City Pet Project and Great Plains SPCA, are now teaming up to try to adopt out 200 animals by the end of the month. The organizations have lowered the price of adoption to $35 for all animals, except for adult cats, which will be free, until the end of June.
This summer has seemed especially difficult for both organizations. Courtney Thomas, chief executive of Great Plains SPCA, said she’s never seen this many kittens come into the shelter during such a short time. The shelter is already over capacity, and the intake of animals is outpacing the adoption rate.
“They are coming in in droves,” she said. “Tuesday and Wednesday we took in 96 animals. We’re not sending 96 animals home.”
Both the Kansas City Pet Project and Great Plains SPCA run no-kill shelters, which means they don’t euthanize animals because they don’t have space.
When the shelters reach capacity like this, both the Kansas City Pet Project and Great Plains SPCA work with other rescue agencies to take on animals the shelters can’t care for. Just last week, Great Plains SPCA sent more than 55 dogs to an animal shelter in New York. They also work with families who foster pets until they can find permanent homes.
The Kansas City Pet Project has euthanized fewer than 10 percent of the animals that come through its doors for the past 11 months. If it can continue this in June, it will be the third largest shelter in the country to do so for a full year, spokeswoman Tori Fugate said.
Even though lowering the price of animal adoptions means taking a financial hit, people at both organizations hope it will allow them to reduce the overcrowding.
“We do whatever we can to make space,” Fugate said. “We lose a lot when we do these adoptions, but we think it’s the right thing to do to get pets into homes.”
Anyone interested in adopting a pet should visit one of the shelters.
Great Plains SPCA Shelters:
• 5424 Antioch Drive in Merriam. It’s open weekdays except Tuesdays from noon to 8 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
• 21001 East 78 Highway in Independence. It’s open Tuesday through Friday from noon to 8 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.
Kansas City Pet Project Shelters:
• 4400 Raytown Road. It’s open noon to 6 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 5 p.m. on weekends.
• Zona Rosa location, 7351 N.W. 87th Terrace. It’s open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m.
Jackson County’s new animal shelter is finally set to open, in April, eight months behind schedule caused by a contract dispute between the county and the city of Independence.
“Is this the end of it?” county legislator Bob Spence asked with a note of frustration on Monday.
Yes, it is, his colleague Dennis Waits assured everyone in the room before the body voted 8-1 to approve an amended version of a contract between the city and the county.
Great Plains SPCA, a Kansas-based nonprofit group, will operate the 28,000-square-foot shelter at 21001 E. Missouri 78. Independence and the county will both contribute toward operating costs, while Great Plains, a Kansas-based non-profit, will have to raise substantial funds through donations and fees on its own.
Monday’s vote presumably ends a dispute that began last spring as the city of Independence began making plans to operate the new Regional Animal Shelter built with county funds, but whose operation was to be paid for entirely by the city under terms of a 2009 management contract. Independence could then close its own crowded, out-of-date shelter.
But as the new shelter was nearing a planned August opening, Waits raised doubts that the city could operate the facility as “no kill” operation (meaning less than 10 percent of the animals would be euthanized) on the amount of money Independence planned to set aside in its budget.
At Waits’ urging, County Executive Mike Sanders put out a request for proposals from animal welfare groups interested in running it, but then backed off when Independence insisted that the management agreement was still in force.
Negotiations went on for months and produced an agreement in December that was supposed to settle the dispute. Waits announced a likely Jan. 1 opening date.
But the Independence City Council was not satisfied with the pact and spent weeks discussing changes.
The amended agreement approved by the council and the legislature still leaves Independence the operator of record. But the city then turns around and hires the county to operate the shelter for the next five years.
The county, in turn, contracted with Great Plains to run the place.
Under the amended agreement, Independence will pay the county $435,000 annually to operate the facility as previously agreed to. But a new provision has the county paying $44,747 out of the health fund to cover the costs of equipment and other expenses that Independence incurred when it was preparing to run the shelter.
The county also agreed to pay $42,359 to cover severance payment for city employees who will lose their jobs when the Independence animal shelter closes.
Under terms of its agreement with Great Plains, the county will pay annually utility costs not to exceed $130,000. That along with the payments from Independence still leaves a budget gap of up to $750,000 between those guaranteed payments and the $1.3 million that Great Plains says it will cost to run the shelter.
Great Plains chief executive Courtney Thomas said her group hopes to make up the difference with adoption fees and other program fees, as well as donations. Based in Merriam, Great Plains contracts with a number of communities on the Kansas side to provide shelter services and has an aggressive fund-raising operation.