Local businesswoman leaves job to save animals - KCTV5

Local businesswoman leaves job, devotes her life to animals

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Lots of people are devoted to their pets, but how many would leave a lucrative career for their furry friends?

One local woman did just that and is now at the helm of KC Pet Project, the fourth largest no-kill shelter in the nation.

The hours are long, and the pay is on par with what you'd expect from a nonprofit organization, but Mizzou finance major Teresa Johnson left the corporate world in 2009 and never looked back. And she's saved thousands of animals from euthanasia along the way.

"There was an opportunity in 2009 to leave J.P. Morgan and do something different," Johnson said. "And it was a perfect opportunity for me to make the switch to what I was truly passionate about."

Now Johnson spends her days in a new kind of office - one that is filled with wet noses and muddy paw prints - but she doesn't mind.

KC Pet Project gives homeless animals a place to stay until they find their forever home - no matter how long it takes.

"I probably work longer hours. I work seven days a week to be honest, and I get up every morning and cannot wait to get here," Johnson said. "It is truly something that is the most rewarding thing I have ever done."

The organization is contracted by the city to house its abandoned, lost or unwanted animals. But when she first took over, Johnson said there was a glaring problem.

"Too many animals were not making it out alive, and so we took on that challenge and knew that we could do something for the animals of Kansas City, MO."

Now, under her direction, KC Pet Project is one of the largest open admission, no-kill shelters in the U.S. They take in more than 9,000 dogs and cats each year, adopting out nearly 95 percent of those animals.

The city provides some funding, but the shelter has provided more than a million dollars in extra services and vet care. They're underfunded, overcrowded and still in their original building, built in 1971.

Johnson says that only makes her work harder.

"To be able to see these dogs and cats go home every day to new families, there's not a feeling like that anywhere."

If you'd like to help, there are several ways to do it. KCMO residents can urge their council members to get a new shelter on the ballot. Otherwise, you can find out more at kcpetproject.org.

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