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Animal shelters attribute owner surrenders to lack of viable housing, veterinary care

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Posted at 10:12 AM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 15:37:41-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Housing issues are impacting animal shelters across the country.

In the first four months of 2022, 804 animals have been surrendered to KC Pet Project in Kansas City.

The shelter says these numbers are alarming to see this early in the year.

“It has just been relentless with the amount of pets coming in through our doors,” said Tori Fugate, KC Pet Project chief communications officer. “It doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In fact, we are anticipating for more animals to come during the busier months.”

Fugate says the current housing crisis in the community is directly impacting the shelter’s operations.

“People are calling us every week saying, 'I don’t want to give up my animal, but I can’t find a place to live with them,'” Fugate said. “Evictions, moving, can’t find a place that will allow their pet to live with them, can’t pay rent deposits … There’s just a number of reasons why people are having to give up their animals.”

Certain apartment complexes impose weight or breed restrictions, making it harder for pet owners to find viable options. On top of that, with veterinary care continuing to break the bank, owners have no choice but to make a difficult decision.

KC Pet Project provides the Keep ‘Em Together, KC program where pets can be fostered until their owners find a long-term solution. But with foster families and volunteers being swamped already, Fugate hopes changes will come at the grassroots level.

“Changes are going to have to be made in Kansas City where there are more affordable housing options for people that have pets,” Fugate said. “And there has been legislation that's been moving through the state level to potentially limit all breed restrictions in the state of Missouri which would be super, super helpful.”

KC Pet Project also works with local organizations and agencies to offer food and housing relief for pet owners — the shelter gave out over $96,000 last year to help owners with medical bills.

Fugate says the lack of affordable housing is a serious issue with an even tougher solution, which is why foster families and volunteers are invaluable to the organization.

This story was first reported by JuYeon Kim at KSHB in Kansas City, Mo.