Following a decision that saw much debate in City Council, Kansas City Pet Project (KCPP) has officially assumed the contract for animal control services in Kansas City, Mo.
After a transition period with the city, KCPP began service on Dec. 1 at 7 a.m.
For residents of Kansas City, the process won’t change much. They will still be able to call 311 to report any animal control related issues on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. After hours and on weekends, residents can call KCPP’s main line at (816) 683-1383.
For the past three months, KCPP has been in a transition period with the city to ensure that there was no lapse in services. KCPP and the city held weekly meetings to discuss the details of the transition.
“The city will monitor KCPP’s performance to ensure that our residents continue to receive the full range of animal services in an even more efficient manner,” said Deletta Dean, deputy director of the Neighborhood and Housing Services Department, which oversees the contract with KCPP. “We will receive monthly reports and post data on Open Data KC to help the public and the City Council see exactly how these services are being provided for our residents.”
KCPP hired a new Chief of Animal Services, managers, officers, and dispatch specialists, working with a group of national and local experts in the field, including members of the Shelter Outreach Program at Best Friends Animal Society and the National Animal Care and Control Association.
“We did hire one officer from the City but he has already left for reasons unrelated to the position,” said Tori Fugate, Chief Communications Officer for the Kansas City Campus for Animal Care. “The rest all stayed on with the city in various positions to my understanding. They all had the opportunity to apply and interview for the position, but most did not apply.”
The new department is led by April Moore, Chief of Animal Services for KC Pet Project. Moore comes from Texas, where she served as the Animal Services Supervisor in Austin, which is the largest no-kill community in the United States, for more than 12 years. Austin receives more than 31,000 calls for service annually, and her team covered a 900-square mile jurisdiction for more than 1.2 million residents.
“Our team of Animal Services Officers demonstrate a strong commitment to public service, the enhancement of animal welfare, and building a safe, humane community through engagement-focused, community-centered animal protection programming,” Moore said. “Our team is excited to empower and connect with our community to strengthen relationships and build trust.”
KCPP selected and trained 16 new Animal Services Officers from across the Kansas City metro to build the new division. The officers have undergone more than 50 hours of formal classroom education, including animal control field services training, animal ordinances, legal and courtroom training, ethics and investigations, as well as conflict resolution and de-escalation training at the Kansas City, Mo., Police Academy. They have also undergone more than 40 hours of hands-on training within KCPP departments on safe animal handling, pet support resources, customer service training, zoonotic diseases, and more.
Officers have spent the last two weeks responding with current city animal health and public safety staff. They have also hired a team of dispatch specialists to handle all of the calls for service. The department will operate out of the KC Campus for Animal Care at 7077 Elmwood Avenue near Swope Park.
“We have worked on this for more than two years and have assembled a team of diverse, community-minded officers that are fully prepared to create positive change through information, access to resources, enforcement of animal cruelty and neglect laws, and protecting public health and safety while building a new foundation of trust and meaningful change through progressive field services,” said Teresa Johnson, President and CEO of KCPP.
KCPP is a nonprofit that operates pet adoption centers in the Zona Rosa shopping center and Petco in Overland Park, Kan. The organization handles more than 10,000 animals a year through 13 locations to adopt in the metro.
The organization has operated the city’s animal shelter since 2012. This additional contract will pay KCPP more than $2 million per year for the next three fiscal years to provide field services for residents. Contract details and required performance measures can be read as part of Ordinance #200533, which was approved by the City Council in July 2020.
The field services contract, combined with changes to a city code, enables KCPP staff to enforce city laws regarding animal health. This includes issuing citations, impounding stray dogs, obtaining warrants to search for animals involved in bite incidents, investigating animal cruelty and related responsibilities.
KCPP organization is a pilot shelter of Human Animal Support Services (HASS) that is reimagining animal sheltering to build programs and support to keep people and their pets together and empower communities.
“Our new Animal Services Division is committed to improving public safety, enforcing animal ordinances, and being a welcome resource to our community’s pets and their owners,” Johnson said. “We are committed to bringing the same level of progressive practices and national recognition that we have accomplished for animal sheltering in Kansas City and we are ready to serve our community and its pets.”
KC Pet Project is hiring for a number of positions including Animal Services Officers, Bilingual Animal Services Officers and Dispatch Specialists. All of their available positions can be viewed at www.kcpetproject.org/careers.
For more information on this new service at KC Pet Project, go to www.kcpetproject.org/animalservices.