A Message from the President/CEO of KC PET Project, Teresa Johnson
Today Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a mandatory Shelter In Place Order that will go into effect on Tuesday, March 24th. This order requires all residents in Kansas City, Jackson County, Johnson County, and Wyandotte County to remain at home for a minimum of 30 days “except for activities deemed essential to the health and safety” of residents.
The Order is NOT about restricting travel, it is about restricting non-essential businesses.
We have received confirmation from Mayor Quinton Lucas’ office acknowledging that we ARE considered “an essential service” for the city. In addition, the Director of Public Affairs & Communications for Johnson County, Kansas, Jody Hanson, also confirmed this evening that animal sheltering services are essential and should continue.
The KC Campus for Animal Care is a city-owned facility and animal health and public safety, including animal sheltering services, animal lost/found resources, and veterinary care to sick and injured homeless pets, and should always be considered an essential city function.
In accordance with the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA), Animal control agencies should take active measures to reduce nonessential shelter intake. Measures taken should include returning pets in the field instead of impounding them, suspending non-emergency owner surrender intake, and encouraging owners who are ill to keep their pets at home whenever possible.University of Wisconsin-Madison Shelter Medicine Program, University of California-Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program, University of Florida Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, and the Association of Shelter Veterinarians wholeheartedly support and recommend animal control agencies and animal shelters follow the recommendations found in the recently released statements from the National Animal Care & Control Association (NACA) during the COVID-19 pandemic.“COVID-19 carries the possibility of creating a significant animal welfare crisis across the country in shelters experiencing reduced capacity for care due to staffing shortages, the need for social distancing, and reduced outcome opportunities via adoption, foster or rescue.”
In an effort to mitigate the short and long-term effects of this pandemic, KC Pet Project and KCMO Animal Control have already begun implementing the following key NACA recommendations.
- Animal control agencies should take active measures to eliminate all non-essential shelter intake.
- Discontinue low priority/non-emergency activity (non-aggressive stray animal pick-up, nuisance complaints, etc.).
- At this time, AC should continue to respond to emergency and high priority calls (law enforcement assistance, injured or sick stray animals, bite and dangerous dog complaints, etc.).
- To preserve critical medical supplies and minimize potential for human contact exposure, shelters and spay-neuter clinics should limit surgeries to emergency cases only.
Importantly, NACA notes that “shelters should continue providing live outcome options for sheltered cats and dogs.” Further, anticipated personnel and supply resource depletion in shelters dictate that essential services and lifesaving capacity be preserved by reducing the number of animals in custody as quickly as possible. This should be done by expediting the movement of animals to adoptive or foster homes and not extending the stay of animals in the shelter for spay or neuter surgery.”Current orders for Shelter in Place or Safer at Home orders from government officials will allow for the continued care for companion animals by animal shelters, rescue organizations, boarding facilities, veterinarians and similar businesses for the animals in their care, whether or not housed in a shelter. People will be allowed to leave their residence while this Order is in effect to engage in the following essential activities:
- To provide necessary care for companion animals in the custody and care of an animal shelter or animal rescue organization, whether housed in a commercial shelter facility, residence, or other dwelling; necessary care includes, but is not limited to, provision of food, water, veterinary care, medication, cleaning of primary enclosures or living area, etc.;
- To transport any companion animal under the care of one of the aforementioned entities to a veterinary facility for medical care; or
- In order to provide ongoing necessary care for a dog or cat residing at another household, residence or property.
- To engage in outdoor activity, provided the individuals maintain social distancing of six (6) feet from other individuals, such as, by way of example and without limitation, walking, hiking, or running with or without a companion animal.
FEMA Emergency Support Function (ESF) #11 also states – Agriculture and Natural Resources organizes and coordinates Federal support for the protection of the Nation’s agricultural and natural and cultural resources during national emergencies. ESF #11 works during actual and potential incidents to provide nutrition assistance; respond to animal and agricultural health issues; provide technical expertise, coordination and support of animal and agricultural emergency management; and ensures the safety and well-being of household pets during disaster situations and other emergency events.Further, the American Veterinary Medical Association lists veterinary practices to be essential public services for pet health and safety, just as human hospitals are.
KC Pet Project intents to stay the course for the plan our Executive Leadership Team has created – practicing social distancing to keep our staff healthy, and severely limiting the number of volunteers or visitors into our KC Campus for Animal Care facility while ensuring appropriate levels of inventory including cleaning and veterinary supplies, medications, vaccines, animal food supplies, as well as scheduling staff in shifts and utilizing foster homes to maintain quality care for animals in our system.
- All non-essential personnel, as well as volunteers, have been asked to immediately work from home.
- We have moved all dogs and cats at our Zona Rosa and Petco Adoption Center back to the KCCAC location. We have suspended all operations at our Zona Rosa Adoption Center and our Petco Adoption Center until further notice.
- Our KCCAC campus building is now locked down at all times to limit the number of people entering the building at one time. Signs have been placed on the doors asking the public to call a phone number when they arrive. A staff member will be assigned to this phone at all times (at the retail desk or Admissions) and will allow people to enter one person/family at a time in the lobby and radio for a canine or feline matchmaker to come take them back to look for a new pet or look for their lost pet. If the person arriving is there to meet with a foster manager about picking up a dog or cat, the foster family will need to wait for them outside and call the phone number when they arrive for their appointment.
- ALL staff must practice mandatory social distancing of staying 6 ft. from every other person throughout the day and observing frequent handwashing, proper sanitation of all work areas, and no more than 10 people can be in a space at the same time. Deep cleaning and sanitizing of all public common areas is being performed daily. And stay home or go home if you are feeling ill.
- We are stocking up on our pet food pantry donations, which can be available to KCMO residents who may need help feeding their pets during this difficult time.
- We are working with our Chief Veterinary Officer to discuss whether we need to limit surgeries or medical procedures and we ask all staff to work to conserve our medical and surgical supplies, as well as sanitizing products, gowns, gloves and masks, to the extent possible.
- We have cut our hours to the Roasterie Café and are limiting purchases to only the walk-up window outside.
- All personnel deemed “non-essential” will immediately be redeployed to help in other areas or will be asked to perform business from home.
- We will identify tasks volunteers can help us with from home, including assisting our Lost & Found Department with reuniting lost pets with their families via social media sites, etc.
Our priority continues to be the safety and well-being of our team members and our community. Essential animal care must carry on, and business operations will be limited on site, but will be performed in new and different ways, such as tele-adoptions and curb-side services for adopters and fosters, Zoom team meetings, Zoom trainings or orientations for volunteers, and more. Communication is essential and each day brings new circumstances that we must navigate as best we can – in some cases with little or no precedent to guide us.
We are committed to providing our staff with their full regular pay at this time. While we don’t know what lies ahead in the days to come, we will continue to do our best to make good business decisions, keeping our people and the homeless animals we care for a priority.
Teresa Johnson, CEO/President of KC Pet Project
For all other updates regarding our organization, to sign up to be an emergency foster, and to see our most needed items, click here.