As a new animal control officer, one of the first dispatches Vickie Hudson read from the City of Olathe in 2005 was this:
“Goats falling out of the back of camper shell on Kansas Avenue.”
“I wasn’t sure if I read my screen right,” Hudson said. “I thought maybe dispatch got it mixed up with another call.
“But, when I got there, goats really were falling out of the back of a camper shell. We got them all corralled and everyone was OK, but at that time I really had no idea what this job entailed.”
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Hudson has been the Animal Control supervisor for the City of Olathe since 2010.
“I love my job,” she says adding that since she was a child, stray dogs and cats have tugged her heartstrings. “I have the best job in the world. They really wouldn’t even have to pay me.”
The Olathe Animal Shelter is the only municipal animal shelter in Johnson County. The shelter takes in rescued or found animals, provides a home for surrendered pets whose owners can no longer care for them, and offers pet adoption services. With a team of dedicated staff and volunteers, Hudson manages it all.
While Hudson goes to retrieve Possum, a 3-week-old kitten from the cat area, staff member Jane Dockery shares photos from some of the shelter’s adoption success stories.
When Hudson returns with the tiny kitten, she heads to the kitchen. Holding the feisty gray feline in one hand, she mixes a doll-sized bottle of formula for the shelter’s latest newcomer. Once Possum wraps her miniature paws around the bottle, there is no taking it away. “She’s a handful,” Dockery says. “I think we should have named her Pistol.”
All who work at the shelter have great compassion for animals, Hudson says.
“I myself have eight dogs and several cats, most of them from here. I’m someone who takes my work home with me.”
At one time or other, the shelter has been home to a real menagerie.
“We have adopted out peacocks, macaws and cockatiels, rabbits, goats, iguanas, pigs (that fell out of a livestock truck and were rescued from the highway), along with cats and dogs,” Hudson says. “Some of the animals have gone onto big futures. One of our dogs went to New York City and works as a bed-bug detective there.”
Hudson, Dockery, and many of the shelter staff agree one dog truly stole their hearts. An Akita named Rifter was surrendered by his owners.
“They loved him but just couldn’t care for him,” Hudson said. “When he came to the shelter, he was really underweight and we discovered he had advanced cancer.”
A Lenexa police detective adopted him hoping to offer him the best end-of-life care. But, he had separation anxiety, so she couldn’t keep him.
“So we kept him as a shelter dog,” Hudson said. “Rifter loved McDonald’s cheeseburgers and the animal control officers would bring them to him.
“When he died, people from all over the community came to say goodbye.”
The large, well-maintained shelter property includes a fenced-in park area where hopeful pet parents can play and get to know animals looking for forever homes. The shelter also has a surgery suite and a rabies observation area separate from the other animal housing. Up to 50 cat and 50 dogs can be sheltered at one time.
“Right now, we are at maximum capacity,” says Hudson. “And, the busiest time of year is ahead.”
When animals arrive at the shelter, they are examined by the shelter’s veterinarian, Amber Andrews, and given any necessary medical care. Once they receive a clean bill of health, they are then available to the public for adoption.
Olathe Animal Shelter has streamlined the adoption process. Once visitors choose the animal they want to adopt, (or the animal chooses them), they read and sign the adoption contract, agree to abide by all city ordinances, and pay the fees.
With these three simple steps, happy pet lovers are ready to head home with their new best friend.
Olathe shelter information
Olathe Animal Shelter is located at 505 E Sunvale Drive in Olathe
adoption fees for cats and dogs range from $30 to $100. The adoption fee for any other type of animal is $10.
The shelter is open 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and is closed for lunch from 1–2 p.m. Saturday’s hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m.. The shelter is closed on Sunday.
Olathe residents who are no longer able to care for their pets can bring them in and surrender them at the shelter.
Olathe residents can also purchase city pet licenses at the shelter.
For more information, call 913-971-8600