New kennels will improve health and safety for dogs.

The Pratt Area Humane Society never intended that chain link fencing would be a permanent fixture at the shelter. Inundated with pets displaced by the Greensburg tornado in 2007, the older shelter on West Fourth Street was eventually deemed unfit for animals and closed by the State of Kansas.

A new shelter in the Prairie Parkway Business Park is a vast improvement over the previous shelter, and it is functioning, but unfinished, according to Pam Howell, a veterinarian and PAHS member.

The fencing, however, has become damaged and is a health and safety risk to the dogs. Once again, the shelter is in violation of state codes, but the Kansas Department of Agriculture inspector has allowed them time to make corrections, Howell said.

They plan to replace the chain link panels with a modular system that can be sealed and sanitized. The bottom five feet of the enclosures are solid, so the dogs can't see each other. That will cut down on aggression, decrease animal stress and slow the spread of disease. Currently waste material from one pen can flow into another.

The project will be done in three stages: sealing the floors and installing the modular panels make up the first two stages and are estimated to cost $50,000.

A third phase deals with lowering the ceiling, building a wall to separate dogs held for municipalities from those available for adoption, and improving air quality and ventilation — finishing steps for the building that weren't done earlier because of lack of funds. That part is estimated at $35,000.

On Jan. 7, the Pratt City Commission agreed to submit an application for a $25,000 grant from the Elinor Baker Foundation. To qualify, the shelter would have to have an operating budget of $500,00 — they're far below that, Howell noted. Instead, because they provide services for the city and the county, the Society can be considered as part of a coalition. County commissioners will be asked to sign the application at their next meeting.

The Society has applied for another grant for $10,000, and they rely heavily on memorials and donations. They have embarked upon a capital campaign, encouraging donors to consider a full kennel sponsorship at $1,800 per kennel, to be recognized by an 18 by 18 inch plaque, a partial kennel sponsorship at $500, recognized with a smaller plaque, or to contribute any amount that feels comfortable.

Fund-raisers, such as a softball tournament and 5-K run, are planned for later in the year, Howell said. PAHS also has an endowment fund through South Central Community Foundation.

An annual membership in the Society can be purchased for $20.

She stressed that the shelter is not in "imminent danger" of being shut down, but progress toward meeting codes must be evident.

They hope to complete the first phase by spring of 2013, and all three within two to three years, dependent upon funding.

Contact PAHS

P: 620-672-777



M: 10233 Bluestem Blvd, Pratt, KS 67124