Privatized Animal Shelter in Kansas City Having Issues
Kansas City is searching for a new operator of its animal shelter after canceling the contract with the vet who took it private about two years ago. The Star has the details, and Toellner Tells it and Tony’s Kansas City have the analysis.
I have cited this animal shelter as an example of successful privatization, so I’ve read these reports carefully. Toellner has a rundown of the great success the shelter has had, both in terms of saving animals’ lives and cutting costs (emphasis added):
Two years ago, the City Council decided to privatize the animal shelter and put the duties of running the shelter into the hands of a private group. Not only did the move save the city an estimated $175,000 a year in expenses and the hope was that it would help create more positive outcomes for the animals. And the results have proven that hope to be true.
In 2007 the city shelter, under the city’s management, killed 6,769 dogs and cats. In 2008 the city killed 4,912.
In 2009, with nearly a year of managing the shelter under their belts, the folks with VMC killed 3,101 dogs and cats — a 37% decrease in killing. The number dropped again in 2010, to 2,722 dogs and cats.
Despite these demonstrable successes, there are concerns with the leadership of the shelter. The city is now looking for another operator, although it seems from all of these articles that whoever is selected will still run it as a private entity. There have been many back-and-forth accusations and denials, and you can get those details from the above links. I have no idea whether the current manager of the private shelter has made the mistakes in care that the linked articles suggested, such as faulty recordkeeping and some (unproven) examples of animal mistreatment.
I have suspicions from reading these articles that there is a core group of animal rights activists involved who will never be satisfied until they get a no-kill shelter, either publicly or privately operated — no matter how well it is run.
If the shelter truly needs better leadership, so be it. I certainly hope that the current vet is not being forced out because of political pressures, but I have no idea what is happening behind the scenes. I’ll leave it to Toellner again to sum up how the past two years have worked out:
The great news is that so far, I’ve not heard any talk from city hall about the city taking over the contract. Privatization has clearly shown itself to be a superior option to city control — both in terms of total budget, and in animal lives saved.
I will continue to use this example as one of privatization’s success stories. Can it be made even better with a different manager? Perhaps, and I plan to continue to follow this issue.