Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kansas City Needs a New Animal Shelter

I decided it was time to visit the Kansas City Missouri Animal Shelter/Control facility. There have been several issues that have arisen recently with the city's animal shelter and the contractor that ran it for two years. The city ended that contract, and at present is running the shelter as they seek out a private partner. Meantime, talk has been advanced of placing an item on the ballot this November to get a new shelter built. I wanted to see the situation for myself, and, oh, pet a few dogs and cats along the way.

The shelter is easily accessed from I-435, a pretty easy drive from any where in the metro, although a bit far for northlanders and JoCo Kansas. The buildings look dated when you come to them although not ramshackle and the grounds looked good.

The "old" name of Animal Control is still visible on the building. There may be another way in, but I didn't see it, and so it appears that the building is difficult for the handicapped to access as there are stairs to climb to get to the office.

The 4000 block of Raytown Road area is not very developed at all--very "country" feel--lots of old growth trees and space around the shelter, as well as this open area in front.

Offices and the one room right now that is used for cats and kittens are in one building--the one on the right in the above view. The cat area is off a hallway in an office type area. Apparently, for a while cats were in the basement of the facility Presently it's a pretty small area that is in use for cats/kittens, and has no running water in the room. The animals are in cages. There isn't a room for cats of age and health to go play or exercise in. They can come out one at a time if a volunteer can watch them.

The dogs are housed in the building on the left in the above photos. You walk right into the kennel area from outdoors--it is quickly apparent that ventilation is poor in the kennels as oder is quite strong, even thought the area appeared very clean today, with cleaning ongoing as I was there checking out the canines. The kennels are the old fashioned wired kind, presenting a less inviting atmosphere and also increasing risk for infection between animals. It didn't seem overly crowded with dogs, but it was pretty loud when they started barking. Pretty stressful environment for the animals, all told, and maybe distracting to potential adopters too.

The set up seemed awkward and cobbled together with bailing wire to me. There was no area inside where a person could just sit with a dog on a lead and not get all the other dogs barking. There was no immediate area of information or welcoming when you arrived at the shelter. It was obvious that it was not designed with animal adoption in mind. According to the history I've read, the facility was built in the 1970s and was meant to be used as a very short term holding facility, with limited adoption opportunities, before an animal was euthanized.

Right now, a lot is in flux. The city is looking for someone to operate the shelter on a daily basis, and is considering some public/private options as well as contracts. Once that is settled, an evaluation of physical facilities is in order. The current structure is dated, not built to accommodate the goals of animal adoption, and is uncomfortable for both humans and animals. Some sort of plan for a new facility is in order. As I was considering this, I thought of the completed new Metro Patrol building. Metro Patrol's building was dated, small, and structurally unsound. It needed to be replaced so that the community could be served well. The same can be said of the current KCMO Animal Shelter. It needs to be replaced so that the citizens and animals of Kansas City can be better served. Options are being considered now about how to do this.

Visit for yourself at 4400 Raytown Road in Kansas City, MO. They are open every day but Sunday--12-6 Monday-Thursday; 12-4 Friday-Saturday. Raytown Road is one of the sports complex exits--just follow the sign to Raytown Road instead of the stadiums--the shelter is east of 435. Listing of adoptable animals linked right here.

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