KC animal shelters need help finding homes for overflowing number of large dogs

Animal shelters are seeing adoption numbers decrease, but intake rates continue to increase for large dogs.
Sugar Cookie, a 2-year-old pit bull smiles with her tongue out in front of a lit Christmas tree. She is wearing a bandana with the KC Chiefs logo

Sugar Cookie is a dog who loves KC football and taking photos. // Courtesy KCPP

Shelters in Kansas City and surrounding areas have run out of room to keep large dogs. Four shelters came together to ask the community for help.

Great Plains SPCA, KCK Animal Services, Melissa’s Second Chances, and Humane Society of Greater Kansas City report that they are having to convert staff offices, training rooms, medical exam rooms, and conference rooms to spaces to hold large dogs because their kennels are overflowing. 

Melissa’s Second Chances says they currently have 31 large dogs in their care, and only 16 kennels to house them. Overall, the shelters reported that they have 170 dogs larger than 30 pounds and have received 430 requests from the public in the last two-week period to surrender large dogs.

These shelters have municipal contracts requiring them to take in animals even when facilities are full, but intakes are increasing quickly, and adoption rates are falling. The shelters reported an average 35% increase in dog admissions from 2021 to 2022.

This trend is not unique to Kansas City. Shelter Animals Count, a national database of animal shelter statistics, found that there were 7.3% more animals entering shelters than leaving in 2022, and 2021 saw a 7.1% increase in stray dog intakes.

Attempting to help the crisis in Kansas City, the shelters have run more adoption specials, increased the number of dogs in foster care, and stopped “voluntary” admissions of large dogs. A “voluntary” admission occurs when a surrendered animal is transferred to a different shelter.

Over the past nine months, KCK Animal Services has also developed its own foster care system to try and alleviate some of the stress on the shelters.

“This is an issue that is playing out across the country, and animal shelters alone cannot solve it,” Tam Singer, Great Plains SPCA CEO, says. “We need the support of the citizens in our communities and community leaders as well.”

The best way to help these animals is to adopt or foster a large dog from a shelter. However, part of the problem the shelters are seeing is that people are not always prepared to have a pet and are forced to surrender them again, creating an endless cycle. Make sure that you check your lease to make sure animals over 30 pounds are permitted before adopting. 

In addition, if you find a stray dog, consider welcoming them to your family or reaching out to friends before surrendering. If owning a large dog is out of reach for you, donating to local animal shelters is a great way to provide comfort for the animals. Check out the shelter websites for photos of dogs up for adoption or to find where to donate.

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