South KC Perspective
New Animal Shelter Could Begin Construction This Summer
By John Sharp
The co-chair of the campaign to raise private funds to supplement KCMO bond funding to build a new city animal shelter in Swope Park assures south Kansas City residents that the approximately $1 million still needed to reach an $8 million goal should be secured within the next few months.
Kristi Wyatt, senior vice president of public policy for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, said she is confident that groundbreaking for the new facility, named the Kansas City Campus for Animal Care, will take place this summer. She said construction of the 54,000-square-foot facility at the site of a former disc golf course on the northeast quadrant of Elmwood and Gregory Boulevard should take 12 to 14 months.
The $26 million facility will be paid for by $8 million in private donations and $18 million in city bond funds approved by voters in April 2017. The Raise the Woof private fundraising campaign also hopes to raise an additional $5 million for an endowment to maintain the Campus for Animal Care.
The new facility will be owned by the city and operated by the nonprofit KC Pet Project that operates the city’s current animal shelter, much like the city’s public-private partnerships with Starlight Theatre and the Kansas City Zoo.
The city’s current shelter that cares for over 10,000 animals annually is housed in an antiquated and woefully undersized 14,000-square-foot building that’s about 50 years old on Raytown Road south of the Truman Sports Complex. It was once used to store material for the construction of the complex.
Despite its deteriorated condition and lack of space, KC Pet Project has become the third largest open admission “no kill” animal shelter in the U.S. since took over operation of the shelter in 2012. The shelter finds homes for nearly all the animals it cares for except those too ill, injured or aggressive to be suitable for adoption.
The KC Pet Project has accomplished this by opening satellite adoption centers at other locations including a Pet Adoption Center in the Zona Rosa shopping center in the Northland, a Petco Pet Adoption Center in Johnson County and cat adoption centers in seven area Petco stores.
It also has moved four mobile homes onto the shelter site, using two for veterinary services, one to isolate sick animals and one for administrative offices.
Despite these efforts, Chad Ackerman, project manager for Grand Construction that will be managing construction of the new facility, said there are always over 300 dogs and cats at the main shelter with over 200 dogs packed in a single noisy room.
Ackerman said the new Campus for Animal Care will provide adequate space so animals have room to be comfortable and move around, including 9,000 square feet of dog play yards, so they do not have to be housed in small cages stacked atop one another.
He told those attending the 2nd Friday meeting hosted by Councilmen Kevin McManus and Scott Taylor that the new facility is designed to allow people to interact with animals they are considering adopting, including four cat “meet and greet” rooms.
He said there also will be public meeting rooms for educational events.