While I'm talking about the going's on in Kansas City....
At the SNKC open house last week, the topic of Kansas City's new animal shelter came up. Three months ago, Kansas City, MO made a decision to privatize the Kansas City animal shelter. While animal control will still be run by the city, the shelter operations after the 5 day state mandatory holding period have been turned over to a group that is calling themselves Half Way Home Animal Adoptions.
The initial results have been pretty dramatic.
Prior to privatizing the shelter operations, KCMO was killing about 65% of the animals that came into the shelter system -- which amounted to about 7,000 killed dogs and cats each year in the shelter (which is roughly 1/3 of the total kills in the metro).
I won't make excuses for the KCMO shelter that was under the city control. It was a poorly run shelter situation, in a crappy location, with poor support from their managment. The animal control department's primary concern was having officers on the streets, and everything that went on in the shelter was an afterthought by the management -- at best.*
*I do want to note that there were a couple of people in the shelter that actually did work really hard, and cared, but had so little support that it made things very difficult.
Since the privatization, everything has changed. While I don't have official numbers (and when I do, I'll make them public), from the feedback I'm getting and the outreach I've seen, I have no reason to doubt the rounded numbers. Since the privatization, the total number of adoptions from the KCMO shelter has gone from about 60 per month, to about 250 per month. Over the course of a year, this will account for 2280 more animals adopted from the shelter than before. I am also hearing a lot of positive reviews from rescue groups that are saying that getting dogs from Half Way Home is much easier -- which will also help reduce the city kill rates.
Animals that are up for adoption are readily available to be viewed via petfinder, and a "new arrivals" section is helping rescue groups and owners who may still be trying to reconnect with their dogs. They are also actively seeking volunteer support, and groups are doing fundraisers to help them off-set costs.
Interestingly, the city is SAVING nearly $200,000 a year by privatizing the shelter instead of managing the shelter themselves...in part because of the ability of the new group to raise money through fundraisers, but also because the new group is reportly saving nearly $8000 a month in euthanasia costs.
I think the dramatic difference is that once the shelter privatized, the mission changed. The city always funneled resources toward the enforcement issues with their job, at the expense of the shelter.
With the new, privatized shelter, every single dollar of their resources goes directly toward helping the animals. And the early results are sounding great. While spay/neuter is an important part of creating a more humane community, it will be impossible for us to achieve anywhere close to No Kill status without aggressive adoption programs -- as 7 of the top 10 reasons animals end up in shelters have nothing to do with spay/neuter. So while aggressive spay/neuter programs definitely help, aggressive adoption programs are imperative to eliminating killing in our shelters.
And all of this leads me to the question, is should animal control and shelter operations always be kept separate? It sure seems like each group doing their own job and working together as much as possible is a much better practice than trying to role two often competing functions under the same group.
In KCMO, separating the two appears to be working. More to come I'm sure.