The City of Blue Springs is looking to partner with a local non-profit organization to provide animal control services.
City Council will likely vote Monday on a three-month contract with Pawportunities, a foster rescue organization primarily for dogs and cats that has been operating for a few years. It would be a trial service, at $22,750 per month, to see if the partnership is viable in the long term.
Police Chief Bob Muenz said he believes Pawportunities can provide better service than the city has been able to in a few years. The police department has four positions budgeted for animal control, but has struggled for about two years to have two employees on hand, and sometimes no animal control officers are available.
This can put a strain on police operations and require them to enlist the help of neighboring animal control.
“It’s not a satisfactory service for the community,” Muenz said, echoing the sentiment he expressed to the city council earlier this week.
Pawportunities, operated by Jeff and Carrie Siems and volunteers and designed by their son Bentley from his volunteer work for animals, would have access to city animal control vehicles, dispatch services, training and support. the city’s Barett Park pet store, a temporary holding facility near 12th and Knox streets. If the three-month trial is successful, it is possible to extend it for another year.
Pawportunities workers would be empowered to issue citations if needed, Muenz said. Animals that they cannot identify, microchipped or otherwise, would be encouraged and ideally adopted. Pawportunities already has adoption fees and will be able to charge for boarding and veterinary care needs.
Jeff Siems is owner of Blue Springs Marine and serves on the Blue Springs Board of Education.
Muenz said the city initially approached the KC Pet Project, the nonprofit that runs Kansas City’s animal control services, about the contracting out, but that partnership wasn’t feasible. . At a public health committee forum last year, Animal Control invited Pawportunities and an area wildlife rescue service to speak.
From there, the idea of a partnership germinated. Carrie Siems said it wasn’t something they were necessarily looking for, but they clearly needed it.
“Blue Springs is underserved, the community as well as the animals,” she said. “There are many parallels between animal rescue and animal control; it’s a lot of awareness and education.
“We’re kind of the only town our size near Kansas City that doesn’t have a legit animal sanctuary. There have been many rescues in recent years; it is needed.
Siems said that along with foster caretakers, Pawportunities has dozens of volunteers, but there is a dedicated group of about 10 people who help with administrative duties, transporting animals for veterinary care and other tasks. . Pawportunities has also helped people with microchipping, vaccinations, spaying and nail trimming, and even building kennels for dogs that are kept outdoors.
If the contract is approved, Siems said, “We’ll have to go out there and learn the ropes of what they’re doing and see what we have to do.”
City funds will go toward supplies and operating costs for Pawportunities, the nonprofit organization will provide labor and services, Muenz said. While he’s sure problems will arise, Muenz told the board: “We hope it goes without too many problems.”