Kansas City shelter opens year-round Northland storefront

Steve and his feline brother were abandoned in a vacant house.

Bubbles, a terrier-schnauzer mix, was a stray on the streets of Kansas City.

All three animals are now family pets, thanks to a new storefront adoption site in Zona Rosa operated by the KC Pet Project, which operates Kansas City’s main animal shelter in Jackson County.

“She’s exactly what we were looking for,” Shannon Hylton, 36, of Liberty, said about Bubbles. “She’s just perfect.”

Hylton’s family took the 13-pound dog home for a week on a foster basis. They changed her name to Katie Grace and came back on Jan. 25 to make the adoption permanent.

On the same day that Katie Grace’s adoption was final, Steve was adopted by a couple who walked in looking for a cat.

Amber Nerdig, 23, and Scott Kollasch, 24, of Kansas City, North, said they chose the short-haired black cat after considering several others there because Steve was both playful and cuddly.

Katie Grace and Steve are among 60 to 80 pets adopted every week from the Zona Rosa location.

In January 2012, the KC Pet Project, a nonprofit organization, began operating the Kansas City shelter on Raytown Road. In mid-November, the agency opened a satellite location in the shopping center, originally intended to stay open just for the holidays.

“Our goal was 200 adoptions in two months,” said Tori Fugate, donor engagement and community events coordinator.

But the site was so successful, with about 240 adoptions, that the nonprofit decided to remain at Zona Rosa all year.

Previously, people who wanted to adopt from the Kansas City shelter had to go to Jackson County. The Zona Rosa location is a convenient spot for shoppers there and makes pets more accessible to Northland residents.

The goal of the KC Pet Project is to become a “no-kill” shelter — one that releases pets to new homes, owners or rescue groups rather than euthanizing them. The December live-release rate was the highest to date, at 96 percent, Fugate said.

About 15 cats and 20 dogs are housed in the 2,000-square-foot retail space. All the dogs are transferred to a nearby veterinary clinic at night and brought back in the morning.

Two full-time trainers, a veterinarian and foster homes help give pets the behavioral and medical care they need to become adoptable.

“I think all the animals here know they’re getting a second chance,” said Irene Siedler, 61, of Kansas City, North.

Siedler, a volunteer with the KC Pet Project, said she adopted a dog from the Kansas City shelter 15 years ago and began volunteering there in July. Now that there’s a location in Zona Rosa, closer to her home, Siedler can spend more time as a shelter volunteer.

Donations and grants help KC Pet Project pay for heartworm treatment and other expenses not covered by the city budget. For example, a donor paid the nonprofit’s lease for a year at Zona Rosa.

Adoption fees typically range from $50 to $250 a pet and include spaying or neutering, deworming, vaccinations and microchips.