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Kansas revokes the license of a Mission animal shelter and orders it to stop taking in new pets

The Kansas Department of Agriculture issued an order to revoke Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption's license on Tuesday, state officials say.
Juliana Garcia
Shawnee Mission Post
The Kansas Department of Agriculture issued an order to revoke Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption's license on Tuesday, state officials say.

The Kansas Department of Agriculture has officially revoked the license of embattle Mission animal shelter Unleashed Pet Rescue and Adoption.

In an emailed statement Wednesday, Heather Lansdowne, director of communications for the department, told the Post that an order to revoke the shelter’s license was issued Tuesday, expanding on an emergency order issued last week for the shelter to immediately stop taking in new animals.

The shelter failed a state inspection in October, launching the license revocation process, and it has faced growing scrutiny following media reports that animals were housed in unsanitary conditions.

The state’s latest action comes as Unleashed continues to ask for donations online and, according to its social media posts, has started laying off workers.

State found ‘new citations’ in recent weeks

Lansdowne said the Tuesday evening order to revoke Unleashed’s license came with “new citations” from findings made during investigations over the last few weeks.

The exact nature of those citations is unclear, and Landsowne said the state is unable to share additional details about the investigations and the findings due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Lansdowne said these more recent investigations were conducted to follow up on and determine the validity of complaints against Unleashed.

Unleashed is able to request a hearing with the state Office of Administrative Hearings to appeal the order to revoke its license, Lansdowne confirmed.

The animal shelter must make that request within 15 days of the order being issued, Lansdowne said.

Unleashed can also accept the order and surrender its license within the 15-day window, Lansdowne said.

A lawyer representing the shelter could not be reached for comment for this story.

An October investigation, conducted by KDA’s Animal Facilities Inspection program, found insufficient floor space in some kennels, Unleashed’s attorney Court T. Kennedy previously told the Post.

The shelter came under more scrutiny following a Fox 4 report in January quote customer and employee complaints regarding the shelter’s conditions.

Those complaints included things like “dog bowls full of cockroaches,” injured and sick animals and one dog who had a bad rash caused by wearing an anxiety vest.

The order isn’t in effect yet

Lansdowne previously told the Post that when a licensee requests a hearing on a revocation order, that order doesn’t go into effect until the end of the appeal process.

Still, the March 10 emergency order is effective immediately and prevents Unleashed from taking in any more animals — even through the appeal process.

“The emergency order was important to ensure that no more animals enter the facility while the appeal is pending, primarily because if the revocation is affirmed on appeal this will limit the number of animals that will need to be relocated to licensed shelters at that time,” Lansdowne previously told the Post.

The animal shelter on Facebook Wednesday evening called on the public for donations to keep Unleashed’s doors open.

The post, which did not directly address the state’s move to revoke the shelter’s license, says it costs roughly $192,000 a month to keep Unleashed operational and estimates “nearly 5,000 will die just this year alone” if Unleashed doesn’t stay open.

The post also claimed Unleashed had begun laying off staff.

At a Mission City Council meeting on Wednesday, Councilmember Debbie Kring said she had received an email request to donate to Unleashed that same day.

“The reason I’m bringing this up, I don’t know how many other people in this city got that, but there’s a potential turmoil there,” Kring said. “We kind of need to be careful about people responding to financial support for this entity that seems to be having some problems right now.”

This story was originally published on the Shawnee Mission Post.

Copyright 2023 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Juliana Garcia