Kansas City codes officer Alan Ashurst has seen a lot of bad stuff in his three years of using hidden cameras to capture illegal dumping.
But he’d never seen anything quite like what his camera showed him earlier this month in the 4500 block of Brooklyn Avenue.
It wasn’t illicit dumping of trash. This time it was a dumped dog.
One picture clearly showed a motorist pulling up and shoving a dog — what turned out to be a 3-year-old male pit bull terrier mix — out of a greenish Ford SUV. Another picture captured the driver pulling away and the dog chasing after it.
“This is as mad as I’ve ever been,” Ashurst recalled of the images he first saw Dec. 18. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
It had been days since Ashurst last checked that camera, and those photos were dated Dec. 10. He had no idea whether the poor abandoned creature was still anywhere in the vicinity. But he contacted Kansas City’s animal health and public safety office, and soon special investigator Eron Dawkins was looking at the cache of photos too.
Dawkins quickly realized that the dog continued to show up in the camera’s photos from that day, Dec. 18. It hadn’t roamed far from where it was abandoned. So he and Ashurst went back to the scene. And it wasn’t long before they discovered the dog in nearby woods.
Dawkins, known to his fellow officers as “Dr. Dolittle” for the storybook veterinarian who could talk to animals, got a can of food and was able to lure the thin and hungry but friendly and playful animal to come to him.
“I was excited to go out there to rescue this animal,” he said.
Neither Ashurst, a Kansas City employee for seven years, nor Dawkins, a city employee for 10 years, could recall another incident quite like this, where two departments worked so well together, using the hidden cameras to save an animal’s life. Often, Dawkins said, they get reports of abandoned pets but can’t locate them.
They took the dog to KC Pet Project, which operates the city’s animal shelter at 4400 Raytown Road. The dog, given the name Mojave at the shelter, was sweet and a great candidate for adoption by a loving family, said Tori Fugate, KC Pet Project’s marketing manager.
And that’s exactly what happened. Just hours after news broke Wednesday about the rescue, Mojave was adopted by a young couple at KC Pet Project’s satellite adoption site in the Northland.
“They just happened to be in our Zona Rosa location right after he arrived, met him and fell in love with him,” Fugate said. “We were able to share his story with them.”
Using the license plate captured in the photos, investigators were able to locate the vehicle from which the dog was shove and trace it to William F. Lee. The city issued municipal citations Wednesday to Lee charging four violations: animal abandonment, lack of pet license, allowing an animal to run at large and failure to have a pit bull neutered. Each citation carries a maximum fine of $500.
Kansas City officials note that residents living within the city limits who can no longer care for their pets are allowed to surrender them to the shelter, if they make an appointment and pay a fee. The shelter also offers advice and assistance with food, behavior management or other services to help an owner keep a pet.
Many other pets are still available for adoption from KC Pet Project’s three locations. In fact, the organization is holding a special adoption event on Friday, New Year’s Day, when adult cats will be available for $25 and all other pets will be available for $30. More information is at KCPetProject.org.