Outside help: Wichita plans to outsource management of city animal shelter

Wichita is seeking a private operator to take over day-to-day management of the city’s animal shelter from the Wichita Police Department.

The vendor will be asked to “manage shelter services and improve communications with rescue partners to find homes for abandoned pets, provide veterinary care and overall improvement of services that fit standards and best practices,” according to a city news release.

The request for proposal was issued on Sept. 15 and will close on Nov. 3.

City spokesperson Megan Lovely told The Eagle that plans were already in motion to outsource management of the animal shelter before the Sept. 6 incident when 12 dogs were improperly euthanized without approval.

“It was already being worked on prior to the incident in September,” Lovely said in an email.

The release says that contracting management of the Wichita Animal Shelter “will help WPD focus on the picking up of stray, sick and injured animals, dead animal pickup, animal bite investigations, live animal traps, animal cruelty and neglect investigations.”

The city will host an informational meeting for prospective operators at 2 p.m. Monday on the 12th floor of City Hall. The city also provides a virtual link for joining the meeting online.

On Wednesday, during the first Animal Services Advisory Board since the Sept. 6 incident was made public, Lieutenant Derek Purcell, who oversees the shelter for the department’s animal services division, described the circumstances that led to the 12 dogs being euthanized as “a breakdown in communication.”

He said the civilian supervisor responsible for putting the dogs down has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a Professional Standards Bureau investigation.

Purcell said the animal shelter must maintain at least 25% of its space in order to take in new animals. He said the extra space in the animal shelter was not needed on Sept. 6 when the animals were euthanized. He defended the decision to put down five other dogs — three that had been deemed dangerous and two with kennel cough that could no longer be isolated.

Purcell said that moving forward, he will have to provide direct approval before any animal is put down at the shelter.