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City Communications Office

City of Kansas City, Mo.

http://www.kcmo.org

CONTACT: Mary Charles, city communications officer, (816) 513-1356

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Feb.24, 2010

City partnerships reduce unwanted pets; find homes for others

The number of animals impounded and euthanized in Kansas City, Mo., is being drastically reduced through the City’s partnerships with Spay & Neuter Kansas City and Halfway Home Pet Adoptions.

Recognizing that the first step was to reduce the number of unaltered animals in the community, the City’s Animal Health and Public Safety Division of the Neighborhood and Community Services Department, partnered with Spay & Neuter Kansas City to target resources in areas of the City where unaltered animals are responsible for 80 percent of the calls to Animal Health and Public Safety. The calls are related to dog bites, nuisance barking, animal cruelty and neglect and animal complaints, representing pets at high risk of contributing to overpopulation and of being impounded. The targeted areas also are those where pet owners are most in need of financial assistance for pet alteration procedures.

Spay & Neuter Kansas City, a nonprofit organization that promotes animal alterations as a primary means of decreasing pet overpopulation, performs about 5,000 alteration surgeries per year. About 90 percent of the surgeries are performed on pets in the targeted areas of Kansas City.

“We don’t wait for the pet owners in the targeted areas to call us, we go find them. We go door to door, talking to residents to educate them so that they can become more responsible pet owners” said Michelle Dormady, president of Spay & Neuter Kansas City.

With grant money to help subsidize alterations and the City’s assistance in refurbishing a City-owned building at 1116 E. 59th St. to provide free and low-cost spay and neuter services to qualifying pet owners, the partnership with Spay & Neuter Kansas City has been successful in reducing the number of animals coming in to the City’s animal shelter by 35 percent, from approximately 10,500 per year to about 7,000 per year.

With these tactics, we’re seeing a lot of positive changes in these high-risk areas of the city,” Dormady said. “We’re extremely proud of the support of the City of Kansas City, Mo., and hope our program can serve as a model program for other cities faced with serious pet overpopulation problems,” Dormady said.

Peter Marsh, a nationally recognized leader in reducing pet overpopulation, said Kansas City’s efforts are commendable. “Not only are proactive programs like this cost effective, in the end they are our only hope to end pet overpopulation. Bitter experience has shown that we cannot adopt our way out of pet overpopulation or build our way out. A system that continues to spend upwards of 95 percent of its sources on reactive programs is doomed to failure and frustration,” said Marsh, director of Solutions to Overpopulation of Pets.

Marsh’s organization successfully spearheaded the campaign for the state of New Hampshire's publicly funded statewide spay/neuter program. In the first six years after the statewide affordable neutering assistance program was established, New Hampshire’s shelter euthanasia rate dropped by 75 percent. New Hampshire now has the lowest statewide shelter euthanasia rate in the country, with less than 1.7 dogs and cats killed per thousand people in 2009.

In addition to the success in reducing the number of animals entering the City’s shelter, the City’s one-year-old partnership with Halfway Home Pet Adoptions to operate the City’s shelter at 4400 Raytown Road, has led to a 152 percent increase in pet adoptions since March 2009. Halfway Home Pet Adoptions is managed by Veterinary Management Corporation.

Since taking over shelter operations, Halfway Home Pet Adoptions has added two full-time veterinarians, made significant improvements to the shelter, and decreased shelter euthanasia by 55 percent.

“By focusing our resources strategically we have been able to dramatically reduce the number of unwanted animals entering our shelter and find homes for more animals then ever before,” said Councilwoman Cindy Circo, 5th District at large. “This project is a solid example of how we, as a community, can reach new heights through dedicated partnerships,” Circo said. Circo was the leader of the effort to create the partnership with Halfway Homes Pet Adoptions.

The shelter also collaborates with several rescue groups in the region to help place animals. Pets available for adoption at the shelter can be viewed online at www.petshalfwayhome.com. The shelter also seeks volunteers and members of Friends of Halfway Home.

For more information about Halfway Home Pet Adoptions, contact Dr. R.W. Steckelberg, president and director, (816) 921-02011.

For more information about Spay & Neuter Kansas City, including volunteer and donation opportunities, contact Michele Dormady, president, (816) 353-0940, or visit www.snkc.net.

For more information about the Animal Health and Safety Division of the Neighborhood and Community Services Department, contact Mike Schumacher, Neighborhood and Community Services Department, (816) 513-9075.

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