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Animal groups worry about lack of city services amid privatization

Spay and Neuter KC.jpg
KCMO Animal Health and Public Safety.jpg
Posted at 5:05 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 18:23:51-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some animal rights organizations and businesses are calling it an animal crisis in Kansas City, Missouri, as the privatization of animal services progresses.

Spay and Neuter Kansas City told 41 Action News that regular services are falling through the crack because of the lack of enforcement or officers.

"I think what the city didn't understand is what would happen during the transition,” Scott Cotter, Marketing Director of Spay and Neuter Kansas City, said.

After the KCMO City Council voted Aug. 29 to let KC Pet Project handle its animal control operations, Cotter said it’s been hectic.

"Almost every day, we're collecting a stray from some place,” Cotter said.

While Spay and Neuter does not house stray animals, Cotter said they started to receive about a dozen more calls per day about the problem since the decision to privatize.

"It does strain our resources," Cotter said. "We are out in the community every day working with people, but this just adds to that and it takes more time, it takes more effort and it takes people out of what they were doing anyway."

Part of the problem is that the contract between the city and KC Pet Project still has not signed, according to KCMO city spokesman John Baccala.

"Right now, we’re stuck in mud and until we have some type of signed agreement from KC Pet Project, there’s nothing we’re going to be able to do,” Baccala said.

Meanwhile, the city's Animal Health and Public Safety Department has lost several animal health officers. Awaiting privatization, the department is down to five officers and two investigators and, because of an uncertain future, are not rehiring empty spots.

Normally, the city would have 17 or 18 officers.

"Obviously we’re not going to be hiring people for jobs that aren’t going to exist in six months and, to be honest with you, it’s going to get worst before it get better," Baccala said. "We’re going to have to continue to adjust on the fly."

KC Pet Project provided the following statement Friday afternoon to 41 Action News:

KC Pet Project is currently involved in contract discussions to provide animal control services for Kansas City. There is currently no agreed upon timeframe by which animal control services would be transitioned to KC Pet Project. At this time, animal control services are still the responsibility of the city of Kansas City.

KC Pet Project accepts stray pets from Kansas City, Mo., residents every day, and we have been and always will be dedicated to protecting the lives of animals in Kansas City. We look forward to the opportunity to provide best practices and progressive ideas to animal control services for Kansas City residents.
KC Pet Project

Cotter worries about how much worse the problem will get.

"It does put people at risk and it makes animals suffer, especially when it's cold,” he said. "Let's work real fast on a transition plan that helps solve this problem, whatever that is.”