Special to the Citizen
About 6 to 8 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters each year — and 3 to 4 million of them never make it out.
But Don Brown believes this senseless killing of loving, adoptable animals can be stopped.
In 2018, Brown began to notice a lot of Facebook post and emails suggesting the local communities in the vicinity needed a no-kill animal shelter. He decided to do something about it. He and his wife Sherry decided to provide the area with an alternative for strays and unwanted animals.
After a daunting amount of modernization and remodeling, their vision has now become reality. Hope Pet Rescue recently opened at Shawnee Street and Broadway in Leavenworth, Kan., and the shelter accepts animals from the Platte City area.
The building, originally built for a railroad freight depot, is about 150 years old. Plumbing was installed, concrete floors leveled, exercise runs added, plus lots of carpentry work. The new shelter is behind the Brown’s thrift store, Every Era Uptown Showroom in Leavenworth, Kan., which they opened to raise money to provide affordable spay/neuter services.
The idea for a no-kill shelter began when the Browns opened HOPE for Cats in 2014 in their business, Kansas County Store in Leavenworth.
“Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society encouraged me to open it and with their financial help, the room was built,” Brown said. “Adoptions began almost immediately. With the success of HOPE for Cats, it only proved to me that there is a need for more pet rescue in our community. The cats are provided with enough areas to ‘get away from it all’ so that there is seldom any fussing or fighting. HOPE for Cats has re-homed about 200 cats since the beginning.”
The Browns are members of Leavenworth Animal Welfare Society and when fellow member Andrea Mamaux suggested starting a low-cost spay/neuter program in 2014, they decided to work together to launch it. In five years more than 15,000 dogs and cats have been spayed and neutered.
Although the number of unplanned litters has been greatly reduced, it’s obvious to Brown that the battle has not been won.
“As long as there are full shelters in the area, the HOPE Spay & Neuter Clinic still has work to do,” Brown said. “There has been a decline in the pet numbers and we hope to see even more of a decline as we continue to educate the public, and spay and neuter.”
The Browns believe that making the shelter successful will happen and the more that people in the area contribute by volunteering and helping with funding, the better it will be. They donated the use of the building, plus $35,000 of their own money for the project.
“It should be clear to all that we are serious and willing to do what it takes to get this job done,” Brown said.
The shelter will have furniture, a television and a refrigerator to create a home-like atmosphere where people and animals can meet and get acquainted without hurry or stress. The outside runs will give dogs and future human companions the opportunity to play and romp together and learn how to interact.
“Having this no-kill pet rescue open and operating has been a nagging desire of mine for a long time,” Brown said. “Seeing pets come in and out will give me a great deal of personal satisfaction. They will be coming in from a hopeless, homeless environment and going out to good homes that will give these pets the security and safety that they deserve. From the beginning of our plan, HOPE Pet Rescue has intended to help as many pets as possible to get out of bad situations.
“There are a great number of dogs and cats ‘found’ in the country. There are people that need to re-home pets because of a change in their personal situations like divorce, illness, or death in the family. We will probably not be able to take in every one of the animals that comes to us, but we will help as many as we can. There could be intake restrictions because of space, available volunteers, or finances. But be assured that we will make every effort to help improve the lives of as many pets as possible.”