The primary elections are Tuesday, and while many organizations publish their political endorsements, it should be no surprise that animal welfare people would post theirs too.
At first glance, posting rankings on animal welfare policy may seem insignificant; after all, there are a wealth of major problems facing Kansas City. But on the flip side, 60% of the residents in Kansas City own pets and legitimately care about animals in this city. Additionally, as the hub of the Animal Health Corridor, being a pet-friendly city could be beneficial for attracting more animal health businesses to the city.
Meanwhile, the city spends more than $2.5 million a year on animal control and is animal shelter -- so everyone should have a vested interest in this not being yet another failing public service. And unlike many of the problems that face the city, solving many of the problems with animal control are actually pretty easy.
So Kansas City Dog Advocates has put together their rankings of the individual politicians in the KCMO election and their views on animal welfare policies. You can go to the link to read them on their page, but because most people don't click on links, I am posted the comments from their page below:
*Mark Funkhouser -- Mayor Funkhouser is a former auditor for the city and is inclined to support fiscally responsible ordinances. As auditor, he was very critical of animal control's poor licensing rates. As Mayor, he is responsible for appointing all members of the KCMO Parks Board. The current parks board prohibited building a dog park in Waldo where a group of private citizens had raised money (and substantial support) to build it. While Funkhouser has been vocally frustrated with the Parks board on these decisions, they are his appointees nonetheless. Funkhouser is the owner of a toy poodle and a chihuahua. Funkhouser is open to repealing the city's ordinance mandating the spay/neuter of 'pit bulls', and in general opposes breed-specific laws. He also says he is open to making changes at the shelter. In spite of several conversations about the city's door-to-door sweeps, he still insists (wrongly) that they only existed for a single week. He also insisted there were no quotas although the Animal Control Manager said there were. He is open to allowing Trap/Neuter/Return programs for cats. And he supports a long term plan for a new shelter.
*Deb Hermann -- Is currently a member of the city council and is now running for Mayor. Hermann opposed making pit bulls automatically dangerous dogs at the committee level and at the council level, but did propose and support BSL mandatory spay/neuter (MSN). Hermann actually sponsored this bill (which directly led to the death of more than 2,000 dogs in the community) based on the recommendations of various staff members. This is particularly concernings she has yielded her opinion to "staff recommendations" in other mayoral forums. If we are to make improvements to the problems in the city we'll need someone who has an opinion and willingness to impact positive change even in spite of staff recommendations. As for Hermann's questionaire, Hermann has two dogs, a Boxer and a Shih Tzu. She says she is open to discussions about the city's MSN law and notes in regards to breed bans that she would like to see a comprehensive plan that will protect dog owners and the dogs. She says that she is pleased with the financial savings of the privatized shelter so far but is open to discussions about the shelter operations. She notes that with good planning, dog parks can be successful and would like the issue revisited by the parks board. She notes that she'd like to see animal control "quotas" for spay/neuter certificates distributed vs the ticket and confiscate quota program that is there now, because we won't ticket our ways out of problems. Hermann is supportive of the door-to-door sweeps because she felt like animal control officers were just enforcing the current law. She is open to allowing those involved in licensed rescues to be temporarily over the pet limit. She would be open at looking into TNR programs that have been successful in other cities and would support the long-term plans for building a new shelter.
Sly James -- James is the owner of a lab mix, a Minature Schnauzer and a Dachshund/Yorkie Mix (Dorkie). He also used to own an Irish Wofhound that has passed away. James is not supportive of breed specific laws - and would be open to repealing the city's law mandating the spay/neuter of all pit bull type dogs as he believes that ordinances should not unfairly burden low-income families and individuals. Instead, laws should be targeted toward owners whose animals are raised for violent, unlawful ends. Generally speaking, James is opposed to privatizing the shelter, however, recognizes that the current shelter privatization is working for the city both in financially and in quality of service. He would consider re-opening the bid (as a note, this all is a bit of a concern as the likely worst case scenerio for the animals in Kansas City is if the city took back over the shelter operations). James does not support quotas as revenue boosters for the city, but is supportive of performance metrics that ensure citizens are getting the needed results. He also is not generally supportive of targeting "selected neighborhoods" in enforcing laws through door-to-door sweeps. James would be open to laws that temporarily allow residents to be over the pet limit in certain situations and would support laws that allow for the proper care of feral cat colonies. He is also supportive of long-term plans to replace the city's current, outdated shelter.
Jim Rowland -- Rowland owns a German Shepherd and a cat. He is aware of the complex issues facing 'pit bulls' in this community in regards to the city's law mandating the spay/neuter (MSN) of pit bulls - especially with so many area communities have banned them. He does realize that it's wrong to target low-income families (who he notes make great pet owners too) with the MSN law and especially wrong to seize them because they're not altered where they are too often killed at the shelter. He instead supports collaboration with low-cost spay/neuter clinics in order to help solve the problems. He also notes that he does not support breed-specific laws. Rowland understands the improvements with the privatized shelter (noting the city does not have the resources or expertise to run a shelter) but also understands that there is a lot of opportunity to make improvements. He is open to making the changes necessary to fix these issues and notes that working within a budget and providing compassionate care for animals is not mutually exclusive. Rowland is supportive of more dog parks in the city as demand warrants. He thinks the quota system is mismanagement and rewards negative behavior vs positive outcomes - and worse, has not been used to get rid of bad Animal Control Officers as they were intended. He also thinks the door-to-door sweeps were an ineffective and inaproapriate use of city resources. He is also open to changing the city's pet limit law as long as people are not causing problems with neighbors and supports the city working with animal welfare groups work with feral cat colonies in the city. He also thinks there are ways to partner with the animal welfare community in order to get resources (like a new shelter) that are badly needed.
Mike Burke -- Mr. Burke has contacted KCDA on multiple occassions after receiving the questionaire...yet, has unfortunately yet to return a completed form or have an opportunity for a live conversation. At this point we do not have information on Burke's stances on these issues, but will update this space if we are able to connect with him.
Henry Klein -- Klein is an animal lover (he owns a mixed breed dog and a couple of cats) and formerly on the board of directors of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City. Klein is a strong supporter of low cost veterinarian services, including spay/neuter to help low-income families. However, while he is a proponent of spay/neuter, he is open to the discussion of city's law mandating the spay/neuter of pit bulls and how to amend it to make it workable. He is opposed to laws targeting specific breeds of dogs because it is the owner's responsibility to provide care and control of their pets. He would be in favor of re-opening the shelter contract. Klein is 'huge proponent" of off leash dog parks and thinks neighborhood involvement in the process is essential to making sure everyone is on-board with the increased usage that will come from off-leash dog parks. He doesn't think good public policy is ever served by quotas and also thinks the door-to-door sweeps are another 'really bad idea" that is not the kind of public policy that builds good will between citizens and servants. He is generally supportive of increases in the pet limit and at the very least making reasonable and meaningful exceptions to the policy - -and would support better solutions that would allow for Trap/Neuter/Return programs for feral cats. He is also supportive of moves to create a new shelter and is confident that the city's citizens are highly in favor of efforts to help animal welfare.
Dick Davis -- Davis is the onwer of one cat. He is comfortable with the city's position to privatize the city shelter and that re-opening the contract for new bids would be in order. He thinks additional dog parks and people in rescue being temporarily over the pet limit are reasonable proposals. He also thinks that good animal control officers should not need performance standards and that door-to-door sweeps are an excessive use of police power. He would support laws that allow for Trap/Neuter/Return. He does not support a move to improve the city animal shelter unless the city's financial position improves. There are several other issues (including Breed-specific legislation and the law mandating spay/neuter of 'pit bulls" in which he says he has no strong feelings and would be open to discussions. Mr. Davis is running unopposed.
1st District At-Large
Scott Wagner -- Wagner is not currently a pet owner, but has been recently. He recently had his adopted Lab mix escape from his kennel/groomer for the second time and she was never able to be found - -and also recently had an elderly cat that had to be euthanized because of health issues. He does not support the city's law requiring all pit bulls to be spayed or neutered because he thinks laws targeting single breeds are not effective and this law particularly increases the burden on low-income families. He instead, favors cooperation with the animal welfare community to create a comprehensive plan to help people alter their pets with deferd costs for low-income households. He is generally supportive of allowing a private organization with expertise to run the city shelter and but does not favor immediate changes at the shelter as he thinks shelter contracts should run for 3-5 years so contractors have adequate time to make investments, hire staff etc. He is generally supportive of more dog parks in the city, preferring that new parks be evenly dispersed throughout the city and in larger parks so dog owners and non dog owners may be evenly accomodated. Wagner had his own neighborhood targeted by door-to-door sweeps and doesn't they they solved anything - and thinks the city quotas are 'completely counter-productive'. Wagner is supportive of allowing pet limit variences for pet fosters, and is open to solutions that will help the management and prevention of growth of feral cat colonies...while acknowledging that the current city laws preventing TNR programs are unenforceable. Wagner would support a public/private partnership for building a new shelter - as he realizes that it may be unrealistic for the city to come up with the full amount for the shelter on its own in the short term.
Daina Kennedy -- KCDA has sent questionaires to Ms. Kennedy on two different occassions and have yet to hear back from her. We will update her profile if more information becomes available.
*Russ Johnson -- Mr. Johnson is a very data-driven guy and is set on making decisions based on data, not emotions. This is usually very good for dog people, as bad animal policies are the ones made based on fear, not facts. He sat down with KCDA and went through a lot of information, and asked for even more. He'll make fact-based decisions on most subjects. He is running un-opposed in 2011.
2nd District At-Large
*Ed Ford -- Ford has previously owned two dogs that have passed away after living long, happy lives - both of which were adopted from animal shelters. Ford says he does not support breed specific legislation as he thinks the an animal's aggressiveness is based on how it is treated or trained. He is aware that Kansas City has formed partnerships with spay/neuter clinics that target low-income households and would be open to the repeal of the city's law mandating that all pit bulls be altered. He says he would be open to re-opening the animal shelter contract up for bids and is a supporter of dog parks. Ford does not favor the door-to-door licensing checks (and notes that in 1994 was given a ticket in such a sweep), and is open to creating a permit for rescue organizaitons to exceed the pet limit. He also would be supportive laws that allow for the proper care of feral cat colonies - noting that when he was growing up, his mother would often feed neighborhood cats. Ford would very much support long-term plans for a new shelter and notes that the city manager has assured the council that the next bond issue in the city would include a new animal shelter and has also been working with NAWS (Northland Animal Welfare Society) to help them find a location for their no-kill shelter.
Allen Dillingham -- KCDA has sent questionaires to Mr. Dillingham on two different occassions and have yet to receive a response.
3rd District - We'd like to note that the majority of animal control calls come from the 3rd District. It is dissappointing that the candidates running for 3rd In District are either unreachable or non-responsive.
Sharon Sanders- Brooks -- KCDA has sent questionaires to Ms. Brooks on two different occassions, and have yet to get a response. KCDA also received no response from her in 2007 when she was running.
Michael Fletcher -- Due to lack of an online presence, KCDA has been unable to get a questionaire to Mr. Fletcher.
Jermaine Reed -- Mr. Reed has a campaign website, but does not have a way of contacting him on the website. So we have yet to get a questionaire to him for this campaign.
3rd District At Large
*Melba Curls -- In 2007 when Curls ran for city council, she did not respond to KCDA questionaires on three different occassions. After sending questionaires to her on two different occassions in 2011, she has yet to respond. This lack of response actually is a good representation of the type of response we have gotten from her while she has been in office.
Durwin Rice -- Rice is an animal-lover and a friend of KCDA. He owns two large mixed-breed dogs and one cat. All three were adopted. He strongly thinks that the law mandating the spay/neuter of 'pit bulls' should be repealed because it targets people and dogs in poor communities, and opposes any form of breed-specific legislation because it promotes ignorance against certain types of dogs and ignorance about the proper care and training of dogs. He supports opening the current shelter contract up for bids. He supports the creation of a large dog park in every district in the city, as well as smaller fenced areas for dogs and dog owners that are appropriately sized for smaller neighborhood parks. Rice does not support the use of quotas for animal control and doesn't think door-to-door licensing sweeps are an appropriate use of city resources. Rice would also support making changes to the city's pet limit law that would allow for a permit system for people to be over the limit if they are fostering animals for rescues. He supports making it legal to care for properly care for community cats and would support a plan that would build a new shelter in the city. We feel that Rice would actively advocate for animals if elected to the council.
Brandon Ellington -- Ellington is the owner of a 'pit bull terrier mix' that he adopted from Wayside Waifs. He is opposed to the city's mandatory spay/neuter law because it not only targets low-income households but also infringes on owners rights to whether or not they would like to breed their pit bulls or not (even though we at KCDA would hope most people would elect to have their pit bulls altered, we do support Ellington's view that mandating that they do so is unnecessary government over-reach). Ellington does not support any type of breed-specific laws because he remembers a time when people used to target Rottweilers and Doberman Pinchers as being aggressive - noting it is neglected or mishandled dogs that are aggressive, not breeds. He is open to putting the animal control contract up for bids. Ellington supports dog parks because it is good for dogs to be able to run and get exercise, and because they bring dog lovers together. Ellington supports getting rid of the quotas and against the door-to-door sweeps. He would support temporarily lifting pet limits for people rescuing (although he notes that he is supportive of the idea of pet limits) and would favor laws that would allow for Trap/Neuter/Release programs.
*Jan Marcason -- What a difference 4 years makes. Four years ago, while running for office, Ms. Marcason sat down with KCDA prior to discuss animal welfare issues. Since that time, her stances have changed pretty dramatically, and not in a favorable way...in fact, many of her answers were quite concerning (thus her current ranking). Jan is not currently a pet owner. She says she does favor breed specific legislation when it can be statistically shown that it is necessary for the safety of all citizens. (We'd like to note that BSL has been proven, irrefutabley to be ineffective and a waste of resources. *See Topeka, KS recent repeal.) Thus, she says she is in favor of the current mandatory spay/neuter law for pit bulls because "in terms of citizen safety, the research showed the need for the legislation". (Never mind that 5 years later there has been no change in the number of dog bites in this city, but literally at least 2,000 dogs are dead directly because of the ordinance). She notes that having a private entity run the municple shelter appears to have been a good decision for the city financially (no comment that it has been better for the animals too), and notes that she is in favor of more dog parks as she believes that they enhance the quality of life for our citizens. She says that without sufficient data, she is withholding an opinion on the city's quota system and the door-to-door sweeps (although she does note that there seems as if there ought to be a less invasive way to encourage compliance with pet registration). She is open to suggestions for allowing people to have more than 4 pets without having to apply for a "Hobby kennel" permit. She says she gets phone calls complaining about feral cats in neighborhoods and is sympathetic toward that problem, and wonders if Trap/Neuter/Release programs would satisfy the concerns of these citizens. She does think it would be a good time to start long-term planning for a new shelter, although notes that financing would be a challenge.
4th District At-Large
John Crawford -- We have spoken to Mr. Crawford during the campaign and he has received our questionaire, but he is yet to respond. We will update this space if we ever receive a completed questionaire from Mr. Crawford.
Anne McGregor -- We have spoken to Ms McGregor during the campaign, and she has receiver our questionaire, but has yet to responde. We will update this space if we receive a completed questionaire.
Ed Pace -- Pace is the onwer of an American Staffordshire terrier that he calls the 8th addition to the family. Pace rightly calls the city's law mandating the spay/neuter of pit bulls "Institutionalized discrimination" that targets predominently Black and Brown communities and low-income families in general. Pace says that he would lead the discussions about repealing these types of laws, not just be a participant. He understands that breed-specific laws are not a viable solution and would not support them in any form. Pace would like to see an organization in charge of the shelter that was not a for-profit organization because he feels that life should come befor profit. He would support the the building of new dog parks in the city because the public obviously wants this kind of amenity and believes the department heads need to be held accountable. Pace opposes both the quotas and the door-to-door sweeps, and also would support a proposal that would allow more than the city limit of pets for people involved in rescue efforts. He would support laws that allow for the care of feral cat colonies and a long-term solution to building a new shelter.
Annie Presley -- Presely has written a series of children's books about her rescue dog Sam who they had to euthanize a year ago. The first book "Sam Gets Adopted" is due to be published sometime this year. Obviously Presley is a pet lover -- and has two dogs, a Miniature Schnauzer and a mixed breed they recently adopted from Wayside Waifs. While Presley is opposed to breed-specific legislation, she does talk some in her survey about some dogs being "more aggressive than others". This doesn't mean that she supports breed-specific laws, but does seek good education for owners of particular types of dogs to create a safer environment for pet owners and citizens. She supports opening up the shelter contract for bids. She says her dogs love the Penn Valley dog park and has recommended to the Director of the Parks Department that there should be a dog park in every corner of town. She thinks the door-to-door sweeps seem expensive and impractical and thinks that working with non-profits and veterinarians would create opportunities to license pets in a far more practical way. She is open to discussions on raising the city's pet limit law and supports changes to laws that allow for the proper care of feral cat colonies.
Jim Glover -- Glover was on the Neighborhoods Committe that originally recommended the now-approved mandatory spay/neuter law for 'pit bulls' in 2006. Glover has yet to respond to our questionaire.
Ken Bacchus - Due to lack of an internet presence, KCDA was never able to get a survey to Mr. Bacchus.
W. Ruth Turner - Due to lack of an internet presence, KCDA was never able to get a survey to Ms. Turner.
Michael Brooks -- We don't know know Rev. Brooks stance on any of the issues, but he did send a representative to the Spay Day event before elections in 2007 (the Rev. had to host church on Sunday morning). Taking an interest in animal welfare issues is important. The more education people have on these matters, the better. Due to lack of an internet presence, we were unable to get a survey to Mr. Brooks for the 2011 election.
5th District At Large
*Cindy Baker Circo -- Circo is almost single-handedly to credit for moving the city shelter operations under private control - a move that saved the city money and has saved animal lives. Circo has become a bit "more political" in her views since the previous election. She is a dog owner, and has helped change some policies regarding the city's law mandating the spay/neuter of all 'pit bulls' to where owners are now given warnings for non-compliance and information on free clinics to have the surgery done. She does not favor breed-specific laws. Circo realizes that the shelter has made a lot of progress but that much more progress is needed and due to massive budget cuts, creativity and collaboration will be needed to make more progress. Circo has funded the priority dog park in Swope Park (although there is still need for a sponsor of it). Circo is supportive of the city's door-to-door sweeps as an effort to increase licensing. She is supportive of possible increases in the pet limit and would be supportive of a badly needed new shelter.
Mahlon Davis Jr -- (Note: due to some paperwork isssues, Davis' name will not appear on the primary ballot - so will be a write-in candidate. If he gets enough write-in votes, his name will appear on the ballot for the general election). Davis is a dog owner and the proud owner of a Miniature Pincher. Davis does think that the city law requiring 'pit bulls' to be spayed/neutered should be repealed and does not support breed-specific legislation in any form. He is supportive of the privatized shelter and does think opening the shelter bid would bring out the best of the best in different private organizations. Davis is not a huge fan of dog parks because he doesn't believe everyone is training their dogs properly but is open to more dog parks and citizen's ideas and concerns. He does not support quotas in the city's animal control and thinks it could lead to animal control being a bit "unorthodox" and potentially writing tickets for things that are not there. He also thinks door-to-door sweeps are "over the top" and could lead to animal control performing unconstitutional acts. He is open to some adjustments to the city's pet limit, but does have some concerns if not done smartly that animals could be harmed. He supports a long-term solution to the city's aging animal shelter and would listen to citizens on the issue of TNR for feral cats.
* John Sharp -- Sharp is the owner of a German Sheperd/Norwegian Elk Hound Mix. He notes that he was not on the council when the ordinance requiring the spay/neuter of all pit bulls was enacted, but if he had been, he would have voted against it. While he strongly supports efforts to spay/neuter, he does not support mandatory laws unless the subsidies are available to help low-income households. He also does not support breed-specific legislation. While he does think privatizing the animal shelter has been an improvement, he knows more improvements are necessary and there could be benefits of more city council supervision. He thinks the city's one dog park has been a success and that more are needed in other areas of the city. Sharp thinks the city's performance standards were designed as a "quick fix" to management problems and believes that animal control should devote more time to educating and working with pet owners vs punitive legislation...and also feels that the door-to-door sweeps are counter-productive if not used in this way. Sharp would support allowing for a special license to be over the city's pet limit and for laws that allow for Trap/Neuter/Return for feral cat colonies. He also would support a long-term approach to replacing the city's outdated animal shelter while acknowledging that budgets are tight.
Terrance Nash -- KCDA sent Mr. Nash surveys on two different occassions but he never responded. It has been our experience that if officials have not been responsive prior to elections, they are seldom more responsive once elected.
6th District At-Large
Chuck Eddy -- Eddy is no longer a pet owner, but used to own a Peek-A-Poo. He does believe that we need additional dog parks in order to meet current and future needs. He does not believe in the cities quota system and thinks there are better ways to evaluate the performance of staff. As for the rest of the questions, Eddy seems open to discussing them all, but does not seem to have enough information to have an opinion on them at this point.
Tracy Ward -- Ward is a vocal proponent of less government - and this is usually beneficial when it comes to preventing unwanted laws that target pet owners. Ward has three pets, a Great Dane/Anatolian Shepherd Mix and two cats (one of which turns 20 this summer). Ward believes that laws such as the city's law mandating the spay/neuter of pit bulls are designed to punish a few irresponsible owners and doesn't believe in punishing all dog owners based on the actions of a few. Ward 'absolutely' does not favor breed-specific laws. She, in general, believs that privatizing the shelter opens the door for competition and leads to higher quality services at a fair fee - and thus, would be open to making changes at the shelter if workers/volunteers at the shelter believe that is what would be best. Ward is supportive of more dog parks in the city and would benefit Kansas City by making it more "pet friendly". She is not a fan of quotas because they can lead to unethical practices by law enforcement and thinks the "knock and talk" type of law enforcement violates the Constitution and favors education over punishing and profiting from it. She would support raising the pet limit - particularly for people fostering for rescues, and does not support punishing people for feeding feral cats (although she does see the need for managing colonies to keep them from getting out of control). She also supports long-term plans for a new shelter but realizes that Kansas City is facing tough economic times and that the private sector and charitable money may need to be sought to help build one in a more timely manner.
Scott Taylor - No rating - Taylor is not currently a pet owner, but does note that some of his fondest memories as a child are with his dog, Teppy. Taylor says it is important for homeless pets to have the opportunity to be adopted and likes city partnerships that would help more animals get adopted...and is interested in hearing more about other options for shelter partnerships. Taylor is open to more discussions and exploring additional options with regard to breed specific legislation, the city's mandatory spay/neuter law for pit bulls, dog parks, trap/neuter/release policies for cats, pet limit laws and the city's door-to-door sweeps. Because of the lack of positions on many of the issues, we have elected to give no rating to Mr. Taylor at this time - but do appreciate his time in returning the questionaire.
Michael R. Brown - Due to lack of an internet presence, KCDA was unable to find contact information for Mr. Brown and thus, he never received a survey.
Delmira Quarles - Due to lack of an internet presence, KCDA was unable to find contact infrmation for Ms. Quarles and thus, she never received a survey.