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City, county ponder animal shelter's future after SPCA announces departure

Posted at 5:28 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 19:19:52-05

MERRIAM, Kan. — The Great Plains SPCA Shelter in Merriam will continue to serve the community but the clinic next door will close in a few weeks and they'll be leaving the facility out in Independence in a few months.

Terri Hirlinger was one of many who first learned of the changes coming to the Great Plains SPCA from a post on their Facebook page.

In the post, the organization said it's ending services at their veterinary care clinic come Feb. 1.

"I have a Shih-Tzu that's almost 14-years-old, so I've been coming quite a bit," Hirlinger said. "I volunteer here as well, and I thought that the facility was doing very well so I'm very surprised that it's closing."

The clinic does 10,000 appointments every year.

The Great Plains SPCA also notified Jackson County Wednesday they no longer operate and manage the Regional Animal Shelter in Independence, whereas of Tuesday, there were 220 animals in need of forever homes.

"It's just not been fiscally prudent for us to do it; It's a board decision. We're very sad. We loved working with Jackson County, but it's no longer feasible," Tam Singer, CEO of the Great Plains SPCA said.

Singer, the third CEO of the Great Plains SPCA in the last four years, explained the county will have six months during a transition period to make other arrangements.

"Until we hear from Jackson County, we can't do anything. We're staying and operating as is. That's what we guaranteed them. Everything stays as is until we hear back."

A Jackson County government spokesperson said the county plans to use the time between Wednesday's notification and the mid-July termination date to "evaluate the situation."Jackson County spokesperson, Marshanna Hester, wrote in a statement:

A spokesperson for the City of Independence said they would work with the country during the six-month window.

In the meantime, others area shelters are monitoring these developments and have even offered to hire some of the Great Plain SPCA staff employees who will be affected.

"It's just very hard because we care about our employees and our community and we're grateful for the support," Singer said.