Jackson County seeks new operator for animal shelter

Jackson County is making good on its promise to find someone else to run the new Regional Animal Shelter after backing out of its management agreement with the city of Independence.

A request for proposals went out Friday and bids are due Sept. 21.

By now, the 27,000-square-foot shelter was to have been operational. But the opening was delayed indefinitely when the county reneged on the pact it signed with the city of Independence.

Three years ago, the county agreed to build a $5 million animal shelter on land owned by Independence, and the city agreed to run it and close its own substandard animal shelter.

But the city and county had a falling out this summer when county legislator Dennis Waits questioned whether the City Council was budgeting enough to run the facility as a “no-kill” shelter, meaning fewer than 10 percent of the dogs and cats would be euthanized.

The city countered that the management agreement didn’t call for that standard at the outset, only that Independence “work towards the goal of maintaining a ‘no kill’ shelter.”

City officials had considered contracting with a non-profit animal welfare group to run the shelter, but rejected the only bid it received, from Great Plains SPCA, as too expensive.