Solutions needed for proposed Wichita Animal Control budget cut  

August 03, 2020 - 5:05 pm

The Kansas Humane Society (KHS) seeks to find positive solutions to the City of Wichita’s proposal to cut funding and public services for stray animals in Wichita. On Tuesday, August 4, the Wichita City Council will hear a proposal to cut $400,000 from the city’s animal control budget. These cuts mean the Wichita Animal Services city shelter (located next door to the Kansas Humane Society) would no longer take in stray animals. This proposed budget means there would be no centralized location for stray animals to be held. This could drastically reduce the number of animals that return home to their families.  

At this time, KHS is unable to take in stray animals because of its memorandum of understanding contract with the City of Wichita. The Murfin Animal Care Campus was built as a public-private venture holding the City’s Wichita Animal Services building and the building for the Kansas Humane Society, a nonprofit.  This agreement between Wichita Animal Services and KHS  and the building designs were planned to best serve the public and animals in the most efficient manner. Due to the building designs only Wichita Animal Services has the room to hold these animals during their stray hold. Additionally, KHS does not have the staff, volunteers or financial resources to do this as KHS receives no funding from the government, City of Wichita, United Way or groups like the Humane Society of the United States. When the facilities were built both Wichita Animal Services and KHS had save rates near or below 50%. After 10 years of working together at the Murfin Animal Care Campus, both organizations now have save rates over 90%, effectively making Wichita a no-kill community. The proposed budget cut would likely have drastic impacts on euthanasia rates and pets being returned to their owners.

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Last year, KHS provided services for over 16,000 animals. KHS took in over 6,000 owner relinquished animals and brought in over 6,000 animals from Wichita Animal Services that were never reclaimed by their owner. KHS provided services for an additional 4,000 animals. KHS has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars beyond its agreement with the City of Wichita to help the city reduce expenses, leading to more animal lives saved.

This potential increase of another 6,000 animals with no assistance from the City of Wichita is not feasible for a nonprofit organization like KHS or other local rescues. Communities that have a nonprofit managing stray animals, as mentioned by city officials, are all funded or reimbursed by the city and county governments in contracts ranging from $500,000 to several million dollars per year. The City of Wichita is currently offering no financial compensation to any outside organization to care for stray animals that are mandated by a city and state ordinance to have a 3 day hold.   

This proposed budget cut will likely increase the euthanasia rate in our community and create public health consequences such as an increase in animal bites, rabies exposure, parasitic diseases and other zoonotic diseases.

KHS believes there are other steps the City of Wichita could take to reduce costs that do not include a $400,000 per year budget cut. KHS has offered help and suggestions that could help the city save money. KHS has offered to clean and care for the stray animals at the city shelter, the City of Wichita could legalize TNR, limit the amount of time animals are held in their care, raise fines for illegal breeding, or charge additional fees for pulls and reclaiming.  

Refusing to care for the 6,000 lost pets is not the answer and KHS wants to help make sure all pets in the community are safe. KHS is asking the city to find better solutions to meet their budgetary needs. 

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