Have you visited the Raymore Animal Shelter lately? Few people have. It appears to be in disarray and at least one animal control officer has begged the city to fix it.
Currently located next to the skate park at Recreation Park, the local animal shelter is beyond full capacity. Funding for the shelter falls way below what is needed to keep animals safe and healthy.
Jamie Hasenyager began her career as a Raymore Animal Control Officer in 2015. At the time, she was replacing a longtime employee.
“The shelter was a mess,” Hasenyager told The Raymore Journal. “The first day I went in, there was dried blood and urine on the floor. I mean, we had to start off from scratch on paperwork. I really don’t know how they even passed inspections back then.”
When Hasenyager came in, she had to digitize everything. With no software or funding for software, she put everything on a spreadsheet. Last year, animal shelter software was acquired through donations.
The situation has not improved much since, if at all.
At one point, the annual budget was around $2,500 to $3,500, according to Hasenyager. She had requested $10,000 but received $5,000 for the year. That is still not enough.
Fortunately, the community has come together in a big way. The shelter receives a ton of in-kind donations each year, ranging from cleaning supplies to toys and food. A local Eagle Scout troop built the donation box currently residing at the animal shelter. Without those donations, the Raymore Animal Shelter would be in a worse place.
Those donations come in largely thanks to online efforts. In addition to implementing donation drives, she has grown the presence of the Raymore Animal Shelter’s Facebook page, which tells the story of each animal ready for adoption. Those posts have been popular locally.
“However, there’s not a more loved department in the city than the animal shelter,” Hasenyager said. “No other department is going to be getting those donations the same or having that amount of community involvement.”
The Raymore Animal Shelter has a donation wish list that can be found at Raymore.com/government/city-departments/police/animal-shelter-wish-list.
Still, the situation at the animal shelter appears dire.
If an animal is hit by a car after hours, it must be taken to a vet emergency center. The walk-in cost alone can be a few hundred dollars. Fees and charges by vets are not waived for animal shelters. Taking care of injured animals can potentially cost thousands of dollars each year.
Not everything has been going poorly, Hasenyager admits.
“There have been quite a few improvements while I was there for six and a half years, but the building is still in dire need,” Hasenyager said.
Hasenyager said they have had major ventilation issues in the shelter. For many years, according to Hasenyager, there was mold inside the building from water leaks. She said that building is not set up to be an animal shelter.
With close quarters and poor ventilation, Hasenyager said the animal shelter can be a petri dish for zoonotic diseases. Furthermore, the shelter must house dead animals. Those animals are kept in a deep freezer next to the cat condo and dog pens.
When Hasenyager started in 2015, the Raymore Animal Shelter was averaging about 250 animals a year. Now, that number is closer to 800.
The city is growing. Funding is needed across the board.
During the May 16 city council work session, city leaders discussed the future of the Raymore Animal Shelter. There are no definite plans so far, but city leaders are discussing allocating space at the upcoming criminal justice center coming to Raymore. Essentially, the city wants more space for the shelter. What that will include is still being worked on.
However, Hasenyager remains skeptical.
“I’ve talked to (city leaders) until I was blue in the face that there needs to be something done,” Hasenyager said. “The shelter is in terrible shape. I was tired of working with so little. Having so little to work with and trying to make miracles happen every day for years.”
In 2020, the City of Peculiar entered into a contract with the City of Raymore to use the animal shelter. Per the contract, Peculiar was paying Raymore $1,500 month to shelter animals it caught. However, the contract does not specify where that money goes.
Raymore Communications Manager Melissa Harmer said that money went to hire part-time help at the shelter. Furthermore, Harmer said the city spent more than $10,000 on the shelter last year alone. According to Hasenyager, those fixes came after citizens complained about the conditions, not as part of the regular budget.
During the latest council meeting on Aug. 8, council members agreed to amend city code chapter 205, which deals with animal control. proposed amendments include removing licensing requirements for pets, expanding the animal neglect or abandonment section, and adding sections on fencing and tethering.
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