Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kansas City Animal Shelter - Friends of Halfway Home Pet Adoptions - Rescue, Foster Urgent Dogs - Kansas City Dog & Pet Photography

For anyone that is not aware, the City is managing the KCMO animal shelter, (formerly known as Halfway Home), until they select a new vendor. A new partner should be selected at the beginning of September 2011. Donations of clean towels, small fleece blankets, newspapers, paper towels, bleach and laundry detergent are needed. To volunteer walking dogs or caring for cats, please e-mail (see dogs & cats up for adoption here) (shelter main website)
816.513.9821 (shelter phone)

City Pets & Ponds
4029 Mill St in Westport.
Sat. July 16, 11am-2pm

KC ponders asking voters to pay for a new animal shelter
The Kansas City Star

Kansas City’s homeless dogs and cats recently spent a week in temporary holding pens at Hale Arena while the city’s animal shelter underwent a thorough cleaning.

But animal advocates and city leaders say the aging shelter at 4400 Raytown Road needs much more than a good scrubbing. In fact, they say it should, quite literally, be scrubbed once and for all.

As a result, city voters could decide later this year on a measure to replace the deteriorating structure built in 1973 as a doggie death row. Plans call for spending about $10 million on a much more hospitable facility designed for modern-day animal care and adoptions.

“For a city this size, we are way behind,” said former City Councilwoman Teresa Loar, who leads a citizens’ advisory committee on animal health and public safety. “It’s an embarrassment. Plus it’s just not humane.”

John Sharp, who heads the City Council’s public safety committee, is joining Loar in pushing for a November election on a bond issue that would include a new shelter.

“You can’t have a good animal control program without a decent shelter,” Sharp said. “The present shelter is totally inadequate in size and layout.”

The Missouri Department of Agriculture agrees.

“The city should seriously consider the option of improving and/or replacing the current animal shelter,” state animal health officer Tracy Houston wrote in a May 6 inspection report. “This facility falls short of other animal shelters in communities of similar size.”

The state report cited numerous health threats and deficiencies with the current facility. The city has until Aug. 5 to make specific repairs.

City Manager Troy Schulte said an election is likely, either this fall or early next year.

“The animal shelter is on its last legs, and it was never designed for the animal population, the animal care needs, so we’ve got to do something relatively quickly,” he said.

The City Council would have to act by late August to get a measure on the November ballot. It could be paired with other ballot questions, such as bonds for the city’s massive sewer overhaul and an extension of a vehicle license fee for community centers.

A 2010 feasibility study by El Dorado Architects estimated the shelter construction cost at close to $10 million. Schulte said the city should also establish a maintenance endowment of $2 million to $3 million.

Funding possibilities include general obligation bonds, to be paid back with a property tax increase, but general obligation bonds probably could not be used for maintenance. Or the city could do a quarter-cent sales tax increase for a year to raise both construction and maintenance money.

But some people question whether now is a good time to propose any type of tax increase, or whether it’s worth it to spend so much money on animals.

Schulte acknowledges the difficulty, but adds, “There’s a passionate group of advocates out there. We would rely on them to help us get the message across about the need.”

Schulte notes that a lot has changed with animal shelters in 40 years, along with expectations for pet care.

Indeed, the Jackson County Legislature has just approved a contract to spend $5 million to build a new shelter in Independence.

“For everyone who says we shouldn’t be spending the money, I’ll get 1,000 emails saying you’re not being nearly compassionate enough on animal care,” Schulte said.

The shelter was built in 1973 with a crematorium attached. At that time it would hold stray animals for five days or until their owners retrieved them, or try for a few more days to adopt them out and then euthanize those left behind.

“It doesn’t have isolation wards to deal with illnesses that crop up because the animals weren’t there long enough to get sick,” said Neighborhood and Community Services Director David Park.

The shelter was renovated 10 years ago, but City Architect Eric Bosch said that even then he recognized the need for a new facility.

The 2010 study by El Dorado Architects recommended a new shelter with separate areas for adoptions, isolation and quarantine holding rooms for both dogs and cats with infectious diseases, treatment rooms and areas for longer holds.

The discussion about a new shelter comes even as the city seeks a new private operator for its current facility.

For the past two years, until April 30, veterinarian R. Wayne Steckelberg ran the shelter for the city. Steckelberg made cosmetic improvements, such as new paint and the addition of large dog runs and “hug rooms” for adoptive families to bond with pets. He reduced the euthanasia rate and increased adoptions.

But allegations surfaced earlier this year about animal mistreatment and severe illnesses. Steckelberg staunchly denied the abuse allegations and said the illnesses were a result of the antiquated ventilation and plumbing systems that allowed viruses to fester.

The city is asking private operators to submit proposals by July 7.

Even if voters approve funds for a new shelter, completion is likely two to three years away. A possible site would be on city-owned land near the existing city tow lot at 7750 E. Front St. However, that land might be needed for future water department improvements, so any shelter location is still highly speculative.

Along with Sharp, council members Ed Ford and Scott Wagner say the city needs to pursue a new shelter soon, although they remain flexible on timing of an election.

Mayor Sly James said he has not yet decided on whether or when to present a ballot measure to voters.

“I know there is a need,” James said. “I know people feel strongly about it.”

Loar said that, ideally, the city will build the shelter and identify an excellent nonprofit to run it. But she said the city has to lead the charge.

“I want it on in November,” she said, “And I’m going to really push for that.”


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