Kansas City’s municipal animal shelter has taken in so many animals this month that it is using bathrooms, closets, locker rooms, the basement and even the employee break room to have enough space for them all.
The number of animals in the shelter is the most it has ever had in its care. The shelter has taken in 912 animals since the beginning of June, said executive director Teresa Johnson.
Johnson is hoping to reduce the overcrowding with the shelter’s third annual “Red, White and Woof” pet adoption event, which began Friday and runs through July 6. During the event, adoption fees will be reduced to $25 from the normal $75 to $200 price.
The shelter has a no-kill, open-admissions policy, so it can’t turn animals away.
Johnson said pets are dropped off for a number of reasons, but a major one is that owners simply no longer want their pets. That accounts for more than 200 of the 912 animals taken in this month.
“This shelter is looked at as an easy dumping ground for pet owners of Kansas City,” Johnson said. “We need to be viewed as a last resort.”
Besides owner-surrendered pets, animals picked up by the city’s animal control or seized in criminal cases are placed at KC Pet Project. Eighty of the 150 cats seized from a hoarding case in early June have been placed in KC Pet Project’s care. Johnson said most of the cats still need to be adopted.
One dog picked up by animal control after being abandoned was floppy-eared Denver, a tan pit bull mix. Although he weighs 52 pounds, Denver often confuses himself for a lap dog, said shelter spokeswoman Tori Fugate. Like the other pets at the adoption event, Denver is neutered and vaccinated, and he has a microchip and 30 days of free pet insurance.
KC Pet Project takes in the third most animals of all the no-kill, open-admissions municipal shelters in the nation, according to the No Kill Advocacy Center. The shelter needs to be three times the size it is currently to accommodate the number of pets it holds, Johnson said.
“This shelter is old and looks like a Sarah McLachlan video,” Johnson said.
The city spent $1.1 million on KC Pet Project last year and budgeted for $1.2 million this year. Additionally, KC Pet Project has raised $1.3 million in the past year. Still, Johnson said, KC Pet Project’s current budget can’t cover its costs for taking in so many pets — about 9,000 last year and possibly more this year.
“We simply can’t keep on ignoring this problem and hope it will go away,” said Councilman John Sharp.
Sharp has proposed including $10 million for a new shelter in the next bond issue the city puts before voters.
“The animal shelter is a municipal responsibility, and you can’t expect to raise that kind of money from the private sector,” Sharp said.
As for any help now, the city budget is limited, said Councilwoman Jan Marcason, the Finance, Governance and Ethics Committee chairwoman.
“If we were to do that, we would have to shift funds from our other programs,” Marcason said.
If the city comes up with contingency money for short-term needs, it will do what it can to help out the shelter, she said.
KC Pet Project
To view available pets, go to kcpetproject.org. Anyone interested in adopting animals at any KC Pet Project location can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The main shelter at 4400 Raytown Road is open from noon to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 816-513-9821.