Legal Fees Forces No-Kill Shelter To Close

Full story: Fox4KC 42
An animal shelter in Mission, Kansas is closing its doors after running out of funding. Full Story
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Don Law

Saint Joseph, MO

#1 Apr 16, 2010
Lawyers again, they make the big bucks at everyone elses misfortune, wouldn't it be great if they waived their fees to help out this organisation. How about naming the lawyers who are causing this organisation money problems.
ana

AOL

#2 Apr 16, 2010
these blood suckers should be ashamed, but every day thing to them.
Joann

Olathe, KS

#3 Apr 16, 2010
How horrible for this agency. My daughter adopted a cat from them and that cat is awesome. He has given us so many laughs and he is in trouble all the time for opening food cabinets and helping himself. He hides and jumps out on us. He is the most loveable huge black persion I have ever seen. He is so healthy and so happy and brings so much joy to us. He obviously knows that we love him and we are so thankful for this agency.

What a bunch of jerks to cause trouble for someone that is trying to do good. May they rot in hell.
dutch

Kansas City, MO

#4 Apr 16, 2010
i've beeh to this shelter a few times and it is awesome. i donated money last year at christmas and also some food. their environment is the best i've ever seen for an animal shelter.
the lawyers should be ashamed of themselves and somebody should take up this cause for no charge....how aobut it lawyers, want to get a great name for yourself in the community, especially with animal lovers??
mary ann - stilwell

Kansas City, MO

#5 Apr 16, 2010
I have been a volunteer and foster home for The Pet Connection for several years. It has grown from a storefront in the old Mission Mall to a facility that has both an adoption center and a low-cost clinic for spay/neuter and immunizations. It is an incredible organization that takes in many homeless pets that other shelters would have quickly euthanized due to age or medical condition, as well as providing vet services to persons with low incomes. Volunteers and staff work with the dogs to make them good citizens for adoption and try to match the adopter with the appropriate animal. They take excellent care of the animals in their care. It is impossible for me to understand why someone would make false accusations about this wonderful organization. And I agree with the above statements that surely there must be an animal loving attorney who would donate their time to defend them. It's the right thing to do.
Balance

United States

#6 Apr 16, 2010
I have been there and am not suprised that concerns have been raised. They have too many animals. They seemed overwhelmed. Those dogs are crated for way too long. It's a hard fact, but you aren't going to find a home for every homeless dog and cat. They need to realize their limits.
Alli

Manhattan, KS

#7 Apr 16, 2010
I have been volunteering at Pet Connection for years, so I know first hand the care and dedication that goes into the well being of every single animal they have. Pet Connection has made every effort to keep cats and dogs cage-free and socialized, well trained and healthy without sacrificing health, sanitation or safety. It is truly a different and better kind of place than the stereotypical "shelter." It would be a tremendous loss to our community and I pray that we as a community will be inspired to help them continue with the great work they have done for so many years now.
Joe

Mission, KS

#8 Apr 16, 2010
Don't blame the lawyers, it's who made these "anonymous complaints" ... and why?

The Pet Connection has helped a lot of animals and haws benefited from various local organizations (JackFM, Johnny Dare, FOX4)- perhaps the community will step-up again.
Amy

Oklahoma City, OK

#9 Apr 16, 2010
I am outraged at this. This is the only shelter left in town that is worth a damn. Of course there are others that have bigger names and more financial backing, and news spots every weekend to adopt animals. But Pet Connection is special. The new renovations have given them more space to do their good deeds. I am apalled that someone keeps making claims that have put them in jeporady. This is about money. The Pet Connection, helps people and animals. It does more for this community, than any other organization. What a shame. Sadness.
TPC Volunteer

United States

#10 Apr 16, 2010
I'm a long time TPC Volunteer. Trust me when I say I know the in's and out's of this organization and what has been happening to them. The "annonymous" source is a coward and has made up some heinous and false accusations that is resulting in this organizaion having to lay off employees, cut others hours, stop taking in cats & large dogs, closing during the week, and potentially causing this organization to close all together. Who are these cowards hurting? Not Melody or Jason (who I assume is their intended target) but their hurting the animals! How dare you hurt these animals!!!!

1) The State Vet Board stormed in during a clinic and started scruitinizing every little dust spec. They'd ask them to take out medication for documentation and then site them for it being out. WTH?

2) A second inspection (not sure if state or vet) walks in and starts looking for controlled substances. Of course none were on site at the center because they aren't doing anything illegal. Calls to the folks that came out to get a report have gone unfullfilled.

3) After these attempts prove unsuccessful, the cowards turn them into the fire department. The fire department came out and inspected and then left.

4) There are other instances that are more personal in nature directed specifically at Melody & Jason and not at TPC.

So TPC is having to fight the city, state, vet board, fire department, etc etc etc. All because some ex-employee's or volunteers are disgruntled from being let go. Why are they taking it out on the animals?

TPC does so much good for our community. It is the ONLY cageless facility in the metro area. The majority of animals stay in comfortable rooms as opposed to being locked up in little crates or cages. To the person who said the majority of animals are in crates... that is a flat out lie and I invite ANYONE to stop by and find out for themselves. Some animals are kept in a crate when they are not outside in the yard playing (as are they in EVERY OTHER SHELTER in the area). These are typically dogs new to the facility that are on their "medical hold" before being integrated with the other dogs. This is to keep disease within the facility at a minimum. Rarely are TPC's animals subject to Kennel Cough or Upper Respiratory Infection (as are a HIGH probability in ANY other shelter). This is because of that confinement.

This facility has been involved in reducing KCK Animal Control's euthanisia rates down to be almost non-existant where it was close to 90% just a few years back. Take TPC out and these animals are going to start dying again!

Now let's look at the vet clinic. If the clinic closes hundreds... no thousands of animals that would not be able to be seen by a vet otherwise (for vaccines, microchips, spay/neuters, & emergency sugeries) will begin losing the vet care that they so desperately need. This is the ONLY facility that does low cost specialty surgeries in the metro area.

Again, I ask WHY ARE YOU HURTING THE ANIMALS???
JST

Kansas City, MO

#11 Apr 16, 2010
We have been fostering homeless animals for a number of years and are sorry to see any group that is helping animals in trouble. That said, I am not so inclined to jump on the "whoever turned in the innocent TPC is so terrible."
My understanding is that 4 different agencies have investigated TPC at this point. That is far too many for me to believe that this has arisen out of a few disgruntled complainers making up lies. Everyone is strapped for cash these days and I do not think the city or the state would waste time and money on investigating baseless claims. Furthermore, the adage that where there is smoke there is fire, likely applies here. I do not know what TPC is accused of and I hope that they can resolve this matter, but I have to wonder if perhaps they are cutting some corners or things aren't as wonderful as several of these postings suggest.
If there is no merit to the complaints and the investigation, then hopefully TPC will be up and running again soon. However, if there is any merit to the complaints, then not doing anything has the potential to be far more hurtful to the animals. While I want to see as many animals saved as possible, not if they are being harmed in other ways. Therefore, I have to trust that the boards and other government agencies investigating will cease to pursue TPC if there is no problem and will stop TPC if there is a problem.
Also, if TPC was just being investigated and/or fined, they would not need attorneys to help them. So the charges must be serious to prompt that expense.
Furthermore, there are several other low cost vet clinics in town. Obviously we want as many low cost vet clinics as possible, but only if they are safe and well-run.
Finally, in response to all the people attacking the lawyers for getting paid and suggesting someone should do it pro bono, I have a question for you. Do you expect to get paid for your work? Would you appreciate it if you were attacked for getting paid for doing your job? They have bills to pay just like everyone else. Yes it is wonderful when lawyers, or anyone, is successful enough that they can afford to provide services for free, but to expect that of them just because you think this client deserves it is unfair and hypocritical. So unless you are prepared to volunteer your working hours and/or income to help out at TPC, you should not be suggesting that the lawyers who are doing their jobs need to volunteer theirs.
Kevin

Detroit, MI

#12 Apr 16, 2010
I agree, the only reason they would need to have lawyers involved would be if they are failing the inspections. Everybody needs to follow the laws, doing good things doesn't exempt them from that.
TPC Volunteer

United States

#13 Apr 16, 2010
JST wrote:
That said, I am not so inclined to jump on the "whoever turned in the innocent TPC is so terrible."
My understanding is that 4 different agencies have investigated TPC at this point. That is far too many for me to believe that this has arisen out of a few disgruntled complainers making up lies.
You are right. You don't know what they are being investigated for. I do. The lawyers getting involve is a direct result of the vet board investigation. A state vet board made up of vets who do not like to see low cost vetting services being administered.

Yes there are other low cost vet clinics. But none of them offer specialty surgeries. Such as eye removals, amputations, removal of cancerous tumors, etc etc etc. I dare you to find a place anywhere in the city that is able to perform such specialty surgeries for low income individuals at the prices that they do.

I may not always agree with the way that some things are handled (people related, not animal related). But if TPC, as an organization, has done anything wrong it's caring too much about helping as many animals as they possibly can. I have an idea who has been turning them in. And I know under what circumstances they left. A vendetta against individuals should not be taken out on these helpless animals.
TPC Volunteer

United States

#14 Apr 16, 2010
I've been volunteering at The Pet Connection for just over a year now, and it's an amazing place. The animals being cared for receive top notch medical care and a positive living environment. Like some of the other posters have mentioned, this facility provides the best care of animals in the area.

Regarding their legal troubles, I think several things have come together all at once. The state board that is upset at their not charging enough for procedures (which are an awesome service to the lower income community), former employees (who couldn't maintain the high standards of care demanded by the facility), and The Pet Connection's efforts to make Kansas City a no-kill city (because other organizations refuse to accept suggestions to change current practices to forward this goal).

And the lawyers that are assisting The Pet Connection are doing the best they can for the prices they can afford to charge. The real issue that has demanded legal representation is the odd and inconsistent behavior and communications coming from the regulatory bodies investigating the shelter. If the police were violating your rights, wouldn't you get a lawyer to defend yourself? Unfortunately, the state merely has to drag TPC through this process to drain it of resources instead of actually finding any genuine statutory violations.

I will be donating money to help them through this difficult time, and I encourage everyone who cares about the welfare of animals in Kansas City to visit www.thepetconnection.net/donate.html and donate what you can.
kitty lover

Columbia, MO

#15 Apr 16, 2010
Whenever someone makes a report, no matter how baseless, the agencies are required to make an inspection even if they were just there the week before. Anonymous reports to state agencies from competitiors and disgruntled employees happen all to often.
Chris S KCK

Kansas City, KS

#16 Apr 16, 2010
Pet Connection has allowed me to save literally hundreds of animals I could not have otherwise helped. They even created a low cost clinic just for my low income clients who could not afford pet care when they realized I was paying it all out of pocket.
I am just one person.. and I know there are many many more.. do the math. Literally THOUSANDS of animals will die in just a few mos time if Pet Connection can not remain open.

I hope whoever did this, in their spiteful selfish ways, can not sleep at night knowing how many innocent animals will die.

Pet Connection also provides food, supplies, and training for hundreds.. THOUSANDS of homeless and rescued pets.
Chris S KCK

Kansas City, KS

#17 Apr 16, 2010
Pet Connection sells low cost vet supplies and provides extremely low cost services as well in great volume to clients who could not otherwise afford the care. Many things like heartguard, frontline, etc. that are ridiculously expensive other places, as are vaccines and exams. Funny thing.. the HEAD of the vet board happens to OWN.. an online vet pharmaceutical company and encourages vets to find ways to charge more. hmmmm... think THAT could be a reason for him trying to shut them down?? Now there is some smoke and fire...
JST wrote:
We have been fostering homeless animals for a number of years and are sorry to see any group that is helping animals in trouble. That said, I am not so inclined to jump on the "whoever turned in the innocent TPC is so terrible."
My understanding is that 4 different agencies have investigated TPC at this point. That is far too many for me to believe that this has arisen out of a few disgruntled complainers making up lies. Everyone is strapped for cash these days and I do not think the city or the state would waste time and money on investigating baseless claims. Furthermore, the adage that where there is smoke there is fire, likely applies here. I do not know what TPC is accused of and I hope that they can resolve this matter, but I have to wonder if perhaps they are cutting some corners or things aren't as wonderful as several of these postings suggest.
If there is no merit to the complaints and the investigation, then hopefully TPC will be up and running again soon. However, if there is any merit to the complaints, then not doing anything has the potential to be far more hurtful to the animals. While I want to see as many animals saved as possible, not if they are being harmed in other ways. Therefore, I have to trust that the boards and other government agencies investigating will cease to pursue TPC if there is no problem and will stop TPC if there is a problem.
Also, if TPC was just being investigated and/or fined, they would not need attorneys to help them. So the charges must be serious to prompt that expense.
Furthermore, there are several other low cost vet clinics in town. Obviously we want as many low cost vet clinics as possible, but only if they are safe and well-run.
Finally, in response to all the people attacking the lawyers for getting paid and suggesting someone should do it pro bono, I have a question for you. Do you expect to get paid for your work? Would you appreciate it if you were attacked for getting paid for doing your job? They have bills to pay just like everyone else. Yes it is wonderful when lawyers, or anyone, is successful enough that they can afford to provide services for free, but to expect that of them just because you think this client deserves it is unfair and hypocritical. So unless you are prepared to volunteer your working hours and/or income to help out at TPC, you should not be suggesting that the lawyers who are doing their jobs need to volunteer theirs.
Rachel

Leavenworth, KS

#18 Apr 16, 2010
I am a staff member and a volunteer.

For some of the animals who come into the shelter, The Pet Connection is their last hope. TPC takes in blind animals, deaf animals, 3-legged animals and animals who are not considered "pretty" due to having been the victims of animal attacks or having been the victims of abuse. TPC also takes in animals who were on the euthanasia lists at other shelters.

Some of the cats and dogs who come in are not immediately adoptable but after rehab and socialization several of them go on to find their forever homes.

TPC has some cats and dogs who have been at the shelter for 3-4 years or more. Hopefully in the future they, too, will go on to find their forever homes; but until that time comes, The Pet Connection is their home.
Deborah Kallevig

Kansas City, KS

#19 Apr 16, 2010
I have volunteered and worked for TPC for several years now and have been privy to the details of the investigations of alleged improprieties, none of which are true. It's a witch hunt at its most basic.

The truth about complaints prompting investigations by any government entity are that they are a huge burden to the time and resources of TPC and require legal representation to advise and guide and advocate for them - it has nothing to do with the facts or truth but about the complaints.

The law requires the entities to investigate complaints and the law, common sense and self preservation requires a response from TPC. That means hundreds of combined man hours spent during the investigations, countering the complaints with dialogue and documentation during and after, and legal representation to protect TPC's rights.

TPC does so much for this community and its animals that to have them close or stop helping them to the degree that they have been able to is such a waste. The animal and vet regulatory agencies have not been able to find or prove anything that TPC is or has done illegally or wrong. There has NEVER been a finding of animal neglect or abuse or mistreatment on any of their inspections or investigations. The issues have all been rule compliance and even those have been groundless.

So, for those folks that thought complaining to every governing body known to man and animals would get TPC censured or fined - you should know it didn't work. But thanks for hurting the animals that TPC tries to help every day and potentially causing them to close their doors because of the financial and emotional burden it forced upon them.
Brandi

Lenexa, KS

#20 Apr 16, 2010
I've been with TPC for over 9 years now, both as a volunteer and as an employee.

It's easy for those who have not been to TPC to cast negative judgement. I think it's almost funny to say that if there are so many agencies investigating them that they had to have done something wrong. That's simply not the case.

Come on people! You can't be so naive to think that only guilty people are suspect. Law enforcement agencies, inspection boards, etc are required to investigate every complaint... regardless of that complaints merit. There haven't been any findings that the pet connection is doing any illegal and in no way are they mistreating the animals.

You ask why TPC has had to hire a lawyer if they did nothing wrong. Well, if you were being targeted & investigated by various enforcement agencies and you knew you did nothing wrong... and it was obvious that you were being targeted... would you not seek out legal advice? Why should they be any different?

The fact is that if TPC is forced to close because of this situation:
- THOUSANDS more animals will die every year in our local kill shelters.
- THOUSANDS more animals will be born every year because their "parents" weren't able to be spayed/neutered due to cost constraints.
- HUNDREDS of animals will die because the "specialty surgery" required to save their pets life is too expensive at the local emergency vet clinics or their own vets office.

Is it really worth it? Was "your" vengence worth the lives of innocent animals? I think that it is disgusting what these disgruntled former employees/volunteers are doing to the animals.

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