Wayside Waifs shows off animal shelter expansion

Wayside Waifs was having a slow day with animal admissions Monday. Only 15 cats and dogs entered the shelter, when on an average day, about 35 to 40 animals are taken in.

There were plenty of people, though, as the south Kansas City shelter unveiled a multi-million dollar expansion.

Wayside Waifs completed work on a new veterinary clinic and animal wellness center in December. These changes will increase the number of animals that Wayside can treat.

At 11,000 square feet, the renovated veterinary clinic is three times larger than before, said Jennie Rinas, spokeswoman for the shelter.

Wayside Waifs also renovated the reception area for adopters, built new animal holding and isolation areas, and renovated the animal admissions area.

On top of these changes, the shelter added space for a wellness center, which will allow Wayside to collaborate with other area shelters and treat their animals.

“The wellness center is going to expand what we’re able to do for the community,” said Ashley McCoy, Wayside’s lead veterinary technician.

The expansion was completed as part of a $5.7 million capital campaign. The shelter is still trying to raise $2 million, Rinas said, and a new animal grooming area and behavioral evaluation center have yet to be completed.

“This (renovation) just makes everything we’re doing work better, and we can do more for the animals and the people involved,” said chairman emeritus Harold Melcher.

With these changes, Wayside Waifs has the most advanced health-care facilities of any shelter in the area, according to lead veterinarian Luke Pickett. Pickett said the closest animal shelters with comparable clinics are in Omaha and Chicago.

From what Crystal Cunningham has seen, she agrees. A veterinary medicine student, Cunningham had just started working at the shelter Monday as part of a raining program.

“The building is immaculate,” Cunningham said. “Most people would dream of having facilities like this.”

Founded in 1940 under a different name, Wayside Waifs provided care to more than 6,500 animals last year, and the shelter can house up to 400 cats and dogs at one time, according to Rinas. Its current building at 3901 Martha Truman Road was constructed in 1999.