Mission animal shelter facing new state order, may be forced to close

Unleashed Pet Rescue may be forced to close its doors following numerous complaints.
Unleashed Pet Rescue may be forced to close its doors following numerous complaints.(KCTV5)
Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 11:15 PM CDT
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MISSION, Kan. (KCTV) - A local animal shelter that’s been facing a flurry of complaints is now facing a state order to revoke its license.

That order, from the Kansas Department of Agriculture, was issued Tuesday to Unleashed Pet Rescue in Mission, Kansas.

Heather Lansdowne, the department’s director of communications, said the tipping point came in November when the agency embarked on a months-long investigation. Last week, the agency issued an emergency order for Unleashed to stop taking in any new animals. Then came the order seeking revocation of their license. With a contentious appeal hearing likely on the horizon, Lansdowne would not detail what specific violations prompted the move.

KCTV5 obtained inspection records from July 2017 to October 2022.

The word “satisfactory” dominates until 2020. In 2020, it has one “unsatisfactory” inspection. In 2021, there were two. In 2022, there were three.

Typically, when one inspection results in an “unsatisfactory” result, the follow-up will be marked “satisfactory.” That changed in the fall of 2022 when the shelter had back-to-back unsatisfactory inspections, including a report of roaches throughout the shelter.

The severity of violations is ranked from 0 to 5, with 5 being the most serious. The shelter had two severity level 5 violations cited on Oct. 24, 2022.

One reads as follows: “Throughout the facility, there were numerous types of what appeared to be roaches that were also observed on surfaces that come into direct contact with the animals in this facility.”

The 22 inspection records KCTV5 reviewed revealed that there have been numerous complaints over the years.

From July 2017 to October 2022, 17 of the 22 inspections were related to complaints. Fourteen of those complaints were deemed unfounded, either in those exact words or by indicating the nature of the complaint and stating the shelter was compliant in those areas.

A 2017 inspection report states, “Unfounded complaint - Felt to be the result of a group of (5) disgruntled employees who walked out.”

Most times, however, when inspectors come out because of a complaint, they found other violations, most often ranging from minor to moderate, but on two occasions, there were level 5 violations found.

Some of the earlier records don’t show a “final result” evaluation, but among those that do, 13 showed a “final result” of “satisfactory” and six were “unsatisfactory.”

The October 2022 inspection, the one describing roaches, is the most recent record provided so far through KCTV5′s public records request. When asked how many complaints were processed since then, Lansdowne indicated the agency has received at least 50 additional complaints since the start of this year.

Court Kennedy, a lawyer for Unleashed, said he intends to dispute the revocation order and request a hearing. By law, he has 15 days to do so.