KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Packs of stray dogs are menacing residents in parts of Kansas City, Kansas, and overwhelmed animal control officers have turned to nonprofit groups for help to solve the problem.
Animal Control Director Michelle Angell acknowledged the city has a “huge” problem with dog packs, saying residents fear jogging downtown and children are sometimes frightened by the animals, The Kansas City Star reported.
“We’ve encountered folks who have not wanted to visit particular areas of that community or move to certain areas of that community because of the fear of this known issue,” says Courtney Thomas, CEO of Great Plains SPCA, an animal welfare group.
The problem is blamed on a lack of officers and resources for the animal control division, space limitations to keep dogs and refusal by residents to have their dogs spayed or neutered.
The city has six animal control officers and a supervisor. The National Animal Control Association said a city the size ofKansas City, Kan., should be operating with 20 officers working in the shelter and on the streets, said Katie Barnett, an attorney for Professionals for a Humane and Safe Kansas City.
The city said 271 dogs were captured in July, August and September, although the animal control division can house only 39 dogs at a time.
“We receive more calls in a day than we can go on, and then we have to start prioritizing: ‘OK, that was a dog they saw running the area, that (call) was four hours old, that’s probably gone,'” Angell said during a presentation to city commissioners.
She said in an interview that she’s encouraged by new outreach and education efforts but residents must take responsibility for their pets.
Nonprofit groups help by patrolling neighborhoods and encouraging residents to take their dogs for free spay and neutering services; setting traps to catch loose dogs; and taking the overflow from local animal control. In 2004, at least 77 percent of the 4,443 pets at the city’s animal control division were put to death. From April to September this year, only 41 dogs were euthanized.
The Unified Government Board of Commissioners recently passed an ordinance allowing residents to own three, rather than two, dogs, which proponents believe will reduce the number of strays.
“We will continue to address our stray animal problem, utilizing partnerships to assure the safety and welfare of both our residents and the animals in our city,” said Mayor Mark Holland.
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