Police should do animal abuse cases, group says

untitled-(4-of-4)-2A Kansas City group is pushing for the police to take a role in animal cases.

The city should also look at outsourcing animal control operations like the shelter to another non-profit group, Britton Hunter told the public safety committee Wednesday.

She said her group has more than 4,300 online petition signatures of support following graphic television reports about abused animals.

Britton said that St. Louis police started working with animal control and it makes sense.

“People who are violent with animals are often violent with people,” she said.

Far too few state felony cases and charges are getting filed against Kansas City offenders, she said, partly because city animal control does not have enough power.

Carol Coe, another in the group, also criticized the Pet Project nonprofit that has operated the city shelter since 2009.

The group had to return about $86,000 of a $100,000 grant it got to spay and neuter pet bulls in certain zip codes, she said.

A Pet Project officer reported that they had to return the money because they refused to make the operations mandatory and could not persuade enough pit bull owners to do them.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that a speaker criticized the KC Pet Project. That was incorrect. We regret the mistake. The KC Pet Project was not involved in the grant; the city received the grant and a city official explained why the money was returned.


Sara Juarez, an assistant city prosecutor, responded that they routinely handle animal care and abuse cases. Between May 2014 and February 2015, 3,259 tickets were issued (2161 of them for animal cruelty).

She submits a few of the worst cases to county prosecutors, who file state felony charges or do not, she said.

Councilman John Sharp, chair of the committee, said he knows the city shelter is more than 40 years old, inadequate, and holds only 170 animals.

He also said the Pet Project has won support and praise for doing the best it can with the shelter, converting it to a no-kill operation and working with other groups.

Britton noted that a police major has long advocated that police get involved in animal control, although police have not requested money for it in their budgets.

Sharp suggested the group approach the police board with its proposal.


  1. Thank you – I SO appreciate this article, but there’s a serious error with it. Carol did not criticize KC Pet Project, manager of the KCMO Animal Shelter, AT ALL. Carol criticized the CITY as IT was the one to apply for and win the $100K grant which it failed to adequately promote. The CITY failed to use the funds to enforce it’s own law – (The mandatory spay/neuter of “pit bulls”). We all agree that KC Pet Project has done a tremendous job, especially given it’s lack or resources and the dilapidated facility in which it must accommodate the 10,000 animals it sees annually.

    It’s also worth noting that Sarah Juarez discussed levels of prosecution in the city for cruelty and abuse, and the challenges to get a state-level cruelty case heard in county court. City staff did not provide the number of cruelty cases that were effectively charged at the highest level in the city court. We would point out that of 633 documented cases of animal abuse in the past two years, only three were recommended for prosecution, and two of those were eventually dropped. This was documented in a Fox4 news investigative report in January 2015. In contrast, between Sept. 2012 and March 2014, the Animal Cruelty Task Force in St. Louis prosecuted over 190 cases of animal abuse. Instead of laying blame, we would propose focusing on how to change the numbers, and get maximum charges on major cruelty cases. We feel the St. Louis model provides a good guide on how to achieve this.

  2. Brent says:

    I would like to clarify a couple of things. KC Pet Project was not involved in the $100,000 Petsmart grant. That money was given directly to the city animal control department and not only was KC Pet Project not involved in the grant, they were specifically excluded from participation.

    No one from KC Pet Project presented at the meeting.

    The person who spoke about why the money was returned to Petsmart was Deputy Director of Neighborhood Services, Deletta Dean.

    Brent Toellner
    President, KC Pet Project

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