Today is the 3rd anniversary of the start of Kansas City Pet Project. Maybe I'm feeling a little nostalgic, but with a lot of followers and supporters out there, I thought it was only appropriate to take a look back to three years ago today.
Actually, the story begins a bit sooner than that. In May of 2011, the City of Kansas City issued an RFP for individuals or organizations to bid on the operating of the city animal shelter. The shelter had for decades been a high kill shelter, and the city was (rightfully) convinced that a private organization running the shelter would be a better option for the city than the city running it themselves. When the city had operated the shelter, it ws only saving about 35% of the animals that came in, however, after two years of private operation, the live release rates were nearing 60%. Yet, there were still problems, and the City sought a new shelter partner.
Proposals were due in mid-July. And, the due date came and went, with no one submitting a bid to run the shelter. The deadline was extended three weeks, and during that three weeks, KC Pet Project was formed by a small group of individuals with a vision of what we hoped the shelter could become.
After several rounds of negotiations, KC Pet Project was awarded the contract to run the shelter on November 25, with a takeover date of January 1. That 5 weeks was largely spent working to hire staff so we could even open the doors on January 1.
On December 31st, we collected the keys from the old staff, and on January 1, KC Pet Project began operations with a shelter full of animals and a staff of 18 people.
It would have been expected that we would have been closed on January 1. It's a holiday afterall, and all of the other shelters in our community are closed on that day. It was a day the shelter had traditionally been closed. And, it would have made a lot of sense to let our new staff, most of whom had never worked at an animal shelter before to learn a bit about their jobs, get some training, etc.
But we didn't do what was expected. We knew that KCPP had to send a strong message that things were going to be different, and we were going to do everything we could to save lives. So, we not only were open on New Years Day, we held a ribbon cutting and an adoption special ($20.12 adoptions) to encourage people to come out. While, the cold "event" was modestly attended by a singular city council member, one independent journalist, and about 30-40 adopters, it made for a crazy day with a staff learning their jobs and animals leaving the building.
I've laughed about that day with one of the members of our training staff who was an adoptions counselor that day and she said she was afraid we were going to fire her because she didn't know what she was doing. I told her that I was just glad the entire staff didn't quit after that.
It's been a crazy 36 months -- the past 30 of which we have operated with a greater than 90% live release rate as an open intake shelter for the city of Kansas City.
Our staff has grown from the original 18, to more than 60, who also serve our two satellite adoption locations. Amazingly, 8 of our original 18 staffers are still with us (bless you all!). Our numbers of fosters and volunteers has expanded exponentially, as well as our number of adopters, and support from the community. Without all of the support, and without the dedication of staff, a 90%+ Live Release Rate would not be possible, and literally thousands of animals' lives depend on the support every single day.
So KC Pet Project is starting 2015 the same way it started. We're open on New Years Day while all of the other area shelters are closed, and we're inviting everyone to come out to adopt with all adoptions for $30 today only. Because, that's how our team rolls.
Thanks to everyone who has joined us in this journey. We have a lot in store for 2015. But I think it's only fitting to look back, while we continue to move forward.
Happy New Years Everyone.