Bonner animal group says city’s sluggish response was costly
An animal rescue group says the city may have wasted taxpayer money by taking too long to resolve an animal control issue.
Members of Bonner Animal Rescue attended Monday’s Bonner Springs City Council meeting asking why it has taken so long to finalize a new contract for the city's unclaimed impounded animals. Katie Schleicher of Shawnee and Janet Crouch of Bonner Springs, representing BAR, said the city has been in need of a new contract since late October, meanwhile animals sit in impound, each costing the city $105 a week.
“We would just like answers as to why it took five months, when not only did we bring you a problem … we brought you a solution, we brought you people that were going to give you the solution,” Crouch said. “You guys had to do nothing, and still it sits.”
Mayor Jeff Harrington apologized, saying he wasn’t sure what the delay was but a new contract was signed and should now be in effect.
BAR has been accepting unclaimed animals picked up by the city's animal control officer for the last three years. Instead of having the city pay for the animals to be euthanized, BAR vets the cats and dogs, kennels them at its shelter and puts them up for adoption.
The need for a new contract came about when BAR was forced to self-impose a quarantine in late October when it had an outbreak of ringworm. Crouch said the organization warned the city that it could no longer take in unclaimed animals from the city’s animal control, a service it has offered free of charge for the last three years.
BAR stated on its Facebook page that it believes it has saved the city more than $130,000 by taking unclaimed animals for no charge.
Crouch explained that while the quarantine situation eventually was resolved, BAR decided it could no longer be able to take in animal control animals because its volunteer base and finances were inconsistent.
Crouch said the organization didn’t get a response from the city until Nov. 20, after it made several follow up inquiries. Crouch said this was a taxpayer issue because the city pays $15 each day that an unclaimed animal must be stored in impound.
BAR helped negotiate a temporary contract with Unleashed Pet Rescue to take the animals and offered to help negotiate a new contract with the Great Plains SPCA in Merriam, with which BAR is now affiliated, but that didn’t happen until Jan. 12.
Crouch said BAR was able to help the city negotiate a $45 fee per animal, which they noted would be less expensive than euthanasia.
On Feb. 5, a contract was finalized and given to the city for completion, but no further action was taken.
“There’s been, in our opinion, a lot of people dragging their feet on a very important issue,” Crouch said. “And it’s been brought to our attention that the council didn’t even know about it until about a week ago.”
City manager John “Jack” Helin was out of town and unable to explain the situation, but he did leave the council a note in the city manager’s report.
“Due to an error on my part, it took longer than it should have to finalize an agreement with the Great Plains SPCA…” Helin stated.
He said that an agreement should be in place as of Tuesday.
Crouch and Schleicher said they thought the council should determine what caused the delay.
“The contract is sitting there while animals are sitting in impound, when they might have been adopted; an apology is great but it really doesn’t take over the fact that there’s really no reason for it,” Schleicher said.
Councilwoman Racheal Haas said she had asked Helin for a workshop to discuss the matter but was told it wasn’t necessary. She said she would still like more information about the matter.
Crouch told the council that while BAR would not longer take the city’s animal control animals, its organization would continue as a rescue for stray and unwanted animals from areas that are in the 66012 ZIP code but outside of the official city limits, in addition to helping residents rehome their pets, broadcasting all impounded pets on social media outlets to help return them to their owners sooner, and continuing to spread education on the importance of spaying/neutering and vaccinations for pets.