© 2023 Kansas City Public Radio
NPR in Kansas City
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Gusting Southwest Kansas Winds Knock Down Fences, Set Dogs Loose, Pack Animal Shelters

Wind scrapes across the plains of southwest Kansas like few places in the country.

It drives a booming new industry of turbines that feeds electricity across the region. But at times, the wind gets out of hand.

This week, it plowed across the landscape, causing trucks to swerve on highways, kicking up dust clouds and freeing family pets by knocking down fences.

With gusts hitting 55 mph, the National Weather Service issued several warnings for the region this week. Ray Burgert, a meteorologist for the agency, told people traveling in SUVs and campers to take special care. Such winds can take out semi-trailer trucks.

The winds also triggered an elevated wildfire risk across the high plains.

“We discourage that outdoor burning, especially with these winds,” Burgert said. “It’s easy for fires to escape control and containment can be difficult.”

High winds also strained southwest Kansas animal shelters. Dogs often escape during strong storms that topple fences. 

The Finney County Human Society took in 3,100 animals in 2018.
Credit Corinne Boyer / Kansas News Service
Kansas News Service
The Finney County Human Society took in 3,100 animals in 2018.

Finney County Humane Society Director Nikkie Spanier said the group’s shelter expects an influx of pets during storms, so it has volunteers on call.

“We have lots of foster homes and we’ll call them and say, ‘Hey, we’re full right now. Can you take an animal or two?’” she said. “They’ll come in and they’ll take animals that are already available for adoption.”

Foster homes take in pets temporarily that are up for adoption to make room for animals picked up by community members and police officers during storms. Kansas state law requires shelters to hold a lost animal for three business days before it can be released to the owner.

Laura Stein, an animal control officer with Dodge City, said windstorms create tempting roaming conditions for huskies, collies and Labrador retrievers. Stein says other dogs like to avoid the wind and usually stay in dog houses.

Especially in cold weather, Stein said, “huskies like to run in the wind.”

In Ulysses, Kansas, animal control officer Kristy Gregorey said the town’s last windstorm resulted in seven people calling “saying their gates were down or that their dogs were loose.”

With a population of nearly 6,000 people, Ulysses animal control picks up almost 500 pets per year.

In Finney County, the number of pets coming to the shelter grows every year. In 2018, the shelter took in 3,100 animals and more than half were unclaimed strays. 

Many dogs that are found and unclaimed are available for adoption at the Finney County Humane Society.
Credit Corinne Boyer / Kansas News Service
Kansas News Service
Many dogs that are found and unclaimed are available for adoption at the Finney County Humane Society.

Gregorey says pet owners should check their fences and gates when weather warnings are posted. But some inevitably break free and roaming animals get captured and taken to the county’s shelter.

“We’d rather them be brought in here” rather than abandoned in the countryside, Spanier said. “We are always accepting animals.”

Corinne Boyer is a reporter based in Garden City for High Plains Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and HPPR covering health, education and politics. Follow her @Corinne_Boyer.

 Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link to 





Copyright 2020 High Plains Public Radio. To see more, visit .

Corinne Boyer is a reporter for the at High Plains Public Radio in Garden City, Kansas. Following graduation, Corinne moved to New York City where she interned for a few record labels, worked as a restaurant hostess and for a magazine publisher. She then moved to Yongin, South Korea where she taught English and traveled to Taiwan, Thailand, Belgium and South Africa. Corinne loved meeting new people and hearing their stories. Her travels and experiences inspired her to attend graduate school. In 2015, she graduated with a Master of Science in journalism degree from the University of Oregon. She gained her first newsroom experience at KLCC—Eugene’s NPR affiliate. In 2017, she earned the Tom Parker Award for Media Excellence for a feature story she wrote about the opioid epidemic in Oregon. That year, she was also named an Emerging Journalist Fellow by the Journalism and Women Symposium.
KCUR serves the Kansas City region with breaking news and powerful storytelling.
Your donation helps make nonprofit journalism available for everyone.