Fate of proposed $14M KC Pet Project facility rests in voters’ h - KCTV5

Fate of proposed $14M KC Pet Project facility rests in voters’ hands

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The KC Pet Project shelter exists in a building that wasn't designed to house animals and it is becoming increasingly run down. Voters will soon have the chance to vote on whether to fund a new building. (KCTV) The KC Pet Project shelter exists in a building that wasn't designed to house animals and it is becoming increasingly run down. Voters will soon have the chance to vote on whether to fund a new building. (KCTV)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

On April 4, voters will have the option to approve a new $14 million facility for the KC Pet Project, which some say is too much money. Others, including the state, say it is long overdue.

The KC Pet Project takes in about 10,000 animals a year. All of them need care and many of them are seriously injured, starved, and neglected.

KC Pet Project is contracted by the city of Kansas City to run what is now a no-kill shelter. New families are formed every single day there.

For Kenzie Lockett, all it took was one look for her to adopt her dog. "She just has the sweetest little eyes and I was like, ’Oh yes. She's mine. I'll take her,’" she said.

The shelter is very different from how it used to be. Before, up to 70 percent of the animals brought in were euthanized. However, the facilities themselves are a far cry from what they should be.

"The shelter is just, frankly, falling apart at this rate,” said Tori Fugate with the KC Pet Project. “We deal often with the older kennels that are in the building, the flooring, the drainage. We have one washer and dryer that is in an open-air garage that our staff work out of. Have to prep all the food that's going out to the dogs and cats here the shelter."

The building that houses the shelter was built in 1972 to house construction equipment for Arrowhead and Kauffman Stadiums, so it was never intended to house animals. It was re-purposed by the city, but has long since worn out its welcome.

It sits next to a capped landfill where animals are not allowed. There are sinkholes everywhere. There's very little parking and no exterior lighting. It’s not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so anyone who can't make it up the stairs has a long trek from the back of the building.

Then there are the areas the public doesn’t see when they go to the shelter. The areas where food, medical supplies and bedding are stored under a ceiling that often leaks. The areas where the animals stay until they find new homes is, by anyone's take, not an ideal environment. "We struggle a lot with just these kennels,” said Fugate. “They are old. They rust.”

The clinics where lifesaving procedures are performed every day are in an old construction trailer. Also, there have been horrible drainage issues after waste that drained from the old kennels had no place to go.

"It was a hazard to our visitors that come here every day it was a hazard to our staff, as well as the animals,” Fugate said.

The deterioration of the shelter has happened over four decades of use. In fact, the Missouri Department of Agriculture wrote the city in 2008, years before KC Pet Project was on the scene, and said the building was out of date and that a new shelter was overdue.

That was nine years ago.

"The new facility would be at the corner of Gregory and Elmwood at Swope Park,” Fugate said. “Right across the street from Lakeside Nature Center. Down the street from the dog park and the zoo. So, kind of where a lot of the animal-focused organizations are in Kansas City already. So, it does make perfect sense to be there."

On Tuesday, voters will have the option of breathing new life into KC Pet Project. The new facility would have not only 60,000 square feet of space for the animals and workers, but an expanded veterinary clinic where more on-site services will be available for animals who need it. They hope to offer lower cost care to residents and have education opportunities.

It is a place they want Kansas City to be able to call a destination and not just a shelter.

However, there is a warning if it doesn’t pass.

"If this vote does not pass,” Fugate said, “the next thing that could happen is that the state could come and say that this facility can no longer be used and then it would effectively be shut down, and there’ll be no place for the animals of Kansas City to go, and we would, of course, have a huge crisis on our hands. So, this is so critically needed.”

“It has to pass by 57.1 percent,” she said, “so we're really hoping people come out and vote for this.”

To put the cost of the new facility in perspective, the city used to be in dire need of a new, more visitor-friendly tow lot. The new one opened in 2009 at a cost of $15 million.

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