Caring for Stray Pets During a Pandemic


We’ve had a lot of questions lately at KC Pet Project around stray pets in Kansas City and what is being done at this time to help them. We thought we would share the work that we’re doing to help stray pets get back home and how you, our community, is helping.

We’re Studying the Data Closely

Our team recently surveyed everyone who filled out a Found Pet Report for the month of April. Out of the 52 reports filed, 27 responded and the results were very interesting. What we discovered is that 44% of the people who filled out the report were able to locate the owner. This is much higher than we anticipated and is showing how our community is helping these pets get back home. Facebook and NextDoor were the biggest resources used to locate the owners. Many were able to take the pet to a veterinary clinic to check for a microchip. To see the full results of the survey, click here.

What we have discovered since March is that calls for animal-related services to the city’s 311 line are significantly down. When we pulled reports for the month of April, here is what we discovered:

311 Cases assigned to Animal Health & Safety:

April 2019 = 745 cases

April 2020 = 258 cases

New Animal Control Cases in PetPoint (our animal data software):

April 2019 = 1,458 cases

April 2020 = 544 cases

That means calls for service is down 63% over the same period last year. While we don’t have concrete answers as to why this is, there could be a number of reasons:

People are home:

With families at home, people can keep a close eye on their pets, whether they live indoors or outdoors.

Stray pets are being reunited in the community:

One of the biggest increases we’ve seen during the time of Covid-19 is an increase in social media posts related to lost pets. Thanks to Lost/Found pet posts on platforms like Facebook, Craigslist, and NextDoor, lost and found pets are finding their way back to their original homes much faster. Data collected from other cities suggest that pets tend to wander within just a few blocks of their home. This activity of helping pets get back home is something that we would love to see continue after this crisis passes and that taking a lost pet to a shelter won’t be the first thing that people do. See our website for more information and resources for if you’ve found a stray pet.

No one out in the community:

The other factor could be with so many people at home and not driving the streets of the city that stray pets roaming are not being seen therefore not being reported. Though, even with people at home, we feel that calls would still be coming in regardless.

Kansas City isn’t alone:

We are talking with other city animal shelters almost daily, and what we’re hearing is that our community is not alone with this drop of activity in calls. Everyone is working to analyze what this means for their cities and we hope to learn what we can from their data.

Prioritizing Emergency Intakes Only

During the stay-at-home order, we have asked the public to help us as we try to prioritize emergency intakes only such as cruelty, injured, abandoned and bite cases. KCMO Animal Control officers have been asked to do the same, and this is all based on national recommendations made by National Animal Care and Control Association. We do this for a number of reasons:

  • At this time, our staff is working in shifts broken up in two teams across the organization. We do this so our staff can all work with the same people, so if someone were to be exposed to Covid-19 or test positive, the number of people that person could have possibly infected/exposed would be as minimum as possible. We also do this to limit the amount of team members in the shelter every day, and those who can work from home are doing so. With our staff broken up in two teams, our resources are reduced, and if we had 30 pets a day coming to the shelter as we normally do, we would be in a very critical condition at the shelter.
  • Back in March, we didn’t know how coronavirus would play out in our community, and thanks to our residents staying at home, the amount of people infected has been much lower than what we’ve seen in other cities. We didn’t know if we would receive pets from covid positive homes, like we have seen at other municipal shelters, and we wanted to have the kennels available in case they were needed to board animals longer than the traditional hold period.
  • We also prioritize emergencies intakes only to limit the amount of citizens having to come to the shelter to drop off stray pets, or exposing animal control officers as they go on calls. Our priority is to keep our essential team members as safe as we can.
  • During this time, we have halted all elective surgeries, including spay/neuter procedures, as recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association. This is recommended since social distancing cannot be observed during these procedures, and we wanted to conserve using all the PPE we could for those who needed it (ie medical professionals). All pets who have been adopted unaltered were sent home on a surgery deposit and scheduled for their procedure at a later date. We hope to resume normal surgeries very soon.

We do want everyone to know that KC Pet Project is still accepting stray pets at this time, but we want to thank our community for what they’re doing to help these animals get back home safely without coming to the shelter first. KC Pet Project is and always will be a resource for the pets of Kansas City, MO.

We live in a very close community where we all take care of each other, and you helping our stray pets get back home safely without coming to our shelter, reduces the stress on that animal coming to the shelter, helps them get back home quickly, and keeps a kennel space open for another pet that is in need. We thank you for your support now and always, and if you come across a lost of found pet, our website has many great resources at your disposal to help that pet get back to its family.