KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A recent city audit points to a lack of organization and management oversight in Kansas City, Missouri's Animal Health and Public Safety division.
The report focused on operations from May to November 2016. Animal control officers weren't enforcing the dangerous dog ordinance, weren't following up on cruelty-neglect cases, and weren't thoroughly documenting each case.
"Poor documentation, poor follow-up, and that's where you get these really long cases of an animal maybe being in a situation longer than they should've been," City Auditor Doug Jones told 41 Action News.
"We made them aware of that in February 2017 that we saw these issues, and then we went back and did a spot check in April and found really no change," Jones said.
In one case, it took animal control three months to get several abandoned dogs out of a filthy home.
John Baccala with the Neighborhoods and Housing Services Department, which oversees animal control, acknowledges they need to get better. Baccala said most people don't understand that animal control officers can't just grab a dog from a yard.
"Until the laws change that, there's not a lot we can do. We've got to follow the rules of the law and until we get more teeth, if you will, in the enforcement process, we can only do what we can do," Baccala said.
Baccala said staffing is a major problem.
The city website shows AHPS should have 27 staff members including management, but Baccala says they actually only have 10 officers in the field, with 4 in training.
"We just don't have the manpower to be able to do some of these things. But that's not an excuse. That doesn't mean we're not going to try to do it," Baccala stated.
The audit also found a strained relationship between AHPS and KC Pet Project, an organization that runs the city's animal shelter.
Jones said the problems were disagreements about how animals should be processed and a lack of communication.
The audit recommends a variety of steps for AHPS and KC Pet Project to take, including more annual training for animal control officers.
Baccala said they'll ramp up their follow-ups.