Private shelter near KC set to take control of Manhattan animal shelter after vote
MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - A unanimous vote has approved a contract to relinquish control of operations at the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter in Manhattan to a private shelter near Kansas City.
The City of Manhattan says that at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the governing body voted unanimously to approve an agreement to outsource the T. Russell Reitz Animal Shelter operations to Prairie Paws Inc.
The City noted that Prairie Paws Animal Shelter, Inc. is a private, non-profit, no-kill animal shelter founded in 1946. The organization is based in Franklin Co. and serves more than 3,000 pets annually across more than six counties. The organization’s leadership has highlighted growth and scale as priorities for the future of PPAS.
“Our organization is fortunate to have robust programming and stable financial support, but as our costs continue to rise, we have had to identify strategies to leverage our resources responsibly,” said Vanessa Cowie, executive director for Prairie Paws Animal Shelter. “Serving more animals and more citizens is the most effective way to achieve that.”
Staff indicated that discussions in January led to the identification of an effective way to provide high-quality services to residents and animals in Manhattan without the need for additional taxpayer dollars. It was learned that private animal shelters face less disruptive challenges and have greater access to funds with a flexible governance model.
“Animal welfare agencies can operate without some of the restrictions of municipal government. They may have better connections with donors, with fundraisers, with grants that not-for-profits can pursue that cities can’t,” explained Assistant City Manager Wyatt Thompson.
City officials said the process that led to Tuesday’s vote started with presentations to the Commission, which resulted in the release of a request for proposals. The review of these proposals was positive and led to a successful recommendation to the Commission on Aug. 1 to allow negotiations with Prairie Paws.
On Sept. 19, officials noted that the agreement was presented to Commissioners and ensures that programs at the shelter will continue without disruption or an increase to the budget.
Staff indicated that Prairie Paws will receive $350,000 each year to provide services required by the City, as well as $13,850 for the transition cost. The agreement also includes leasing the current facility for $1 per year - set to begin before the end of 2023.
With the level of services required a priority, the City said the agreement requires Prairie Paws to report on detailed performance metrics.
While those in Franklin Co. will likely not see any significant change, officials said that those in Manhattan may notice new branding and a stronger fundraising presence as the transition continues. After the transition is complete, additional programs at the shelter will be made available, including low-cost spay/neuter and trap/neuter/release for community cats.
Copyright 2023 WIBW. All rights reserved.