Strong storms cut power to thousands in the Kansas City area Saturday night, including the Kansas City Pet Project's animal shelter. That left volunteers having to care for dozens of frightened animals in the dark. The electricity was restored shortly before 9 a.m. Allison Long The Kansas City Star
Strong storms cut power to thousands in the Kansas City area Saturday night, including the Kansas City Pet Project's animal shelter. That left volunteers having to care for dozens of frightened animals in the dark. The electricity was restored shortly before 9 a.m. Allison Long The Kansas City Star

Weather

When power goes out, headlamps go on at KC Pet Project’s animal shelter

By Robert A. Cronkleton

bcronkleton@kcstar.com

July 23, 2017 11:55 AM

UPDATED July 23, 2017 11:56 AM

KC Pet Project staff members donned headlamps to take care of animals Sunday morning after overnight storms left the Kansas City animal shelter without power.

“No power in the shelter this morning,” KC Pet Project tweeted shortly after 8 a.m. “Our staff caring for animals in the dark.”

“Whenever there is some sort of storm that blows through the area, usually the shelter loses power,” said Tori Fugate, KC Pet Project’s director of marketing and communications.

Staff members noticed power was out about 6 a.m. Sunday when they arrived, Fugate said. Electricity was restored around 9 a.m.

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“We do lose power quite a bit,” she said. “Unfortunately with the facility we are in now, there’s no alternative power source. We can’t get a generator to power that building.”

Close to 200 animals were being cared for at the shelter on Sunday.

The shelter’s building at 4400 Raytown Road is not equipped to use a generator. KC Pet Project has small generators that can be set up in the vet clinic as backup.

So when power goes out, shelter staff members try to notify Kansas City Power & Light as quickly as possible, and they use headlamps and flashlights to care for the animals.

“It gets so dark in the kennel area and the hallways that you can’t see anything,” Fugate said. “All of our staff wear headlamps while they are caring for the dogs.”

The staff proceeds with everything as if there were power — dogs are gotten out, fed and watered.

“Our clinic goes into backup mode,” Fugate said. “Any surgeries we have planned, we still try to do, but they have headlamps as well in there.”

Those areas also have more natural light. The staff also tries to get air circulating through the building by opening windows.

Most of the outages last only a few hours. One time in June 2014, however, power was out for more than 24 hours. That outage came the day after the shelter received about 100 cats from a hoarding case.

The KC Pet Project hopes that the new animal shelter that is to be built in Swope Park will be designed with a backup generator so it doesn’t lose power as often.

The new shelter will be part of the $800 million infrastructure program that voters authorized in April. It is expected to handle power outages better.

“We are still working on designs,” Fugate said. “We’re hoping that within the next few months we will be able to start showing what it looks like to the public.”

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb