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Kansas City Pet Project still searching for pack of pit bulls that mauled a child 2 weeks ago

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3
KC Pet Project says animal control officers are still interviewing witnesses after a boy was mauled by pit bulls near 15th and Hardesty.

The child was attacked two weeks ago by three to four dogs and rushed to the hospital. KC Pet Project says it is still investigating in the incident.

Kansas City animal control is still looking for a pack of pit bulls that mauled a child three weeks ago and sent him to the hospital.

Kansas City police were the first to respond to the attack near 15th Street and Hardesty Avenue just after 10 p.m. the night of August 9. The victim was in front of his house “when three or four pit bulls ran up to him,” the KCPD report said. The boy was bitten on his left hamstring and left heel but was able to fight off the dogs and run inside. “There was a large amount of blood on the floor,” the report said.

Kansas City Fire Department confirmed it transported one person to the hospital from that location.

KC Pet Project, which runs animal control in Kansas City, has released little information on the attack. A heavily redacted report provided to KCUR through the Missouri Sunshine Law only revealed the address of the attack and that the “minor was taking the trash out at home and was bitten by unknown dog(s).”

KC Pet Project said it could not provide more information because it is still investigating. “Our officers have been gathering witness testimony and have been in the area working to locate the dogs,” Pet Project spokesperson Tori Fugate said in an email.

It’s at least the second attack on a child in the last few months. In April, a child was attacked by a pair of pit bulls that were involved in two other attacks the same day.

KC Pet Project has seen a huge spike in the number of dogs at its shelter just south of Swope Park.

“July was the toughest month we’ve seen in nearly 11 years at KC Pet Project,” the organization wrote in its monthly newsletter. Over 800 dogs were brought in.

Many of the dogs filling shelters are pit bulls. “It’s a very, very popular breed,” said Michelle Dormady, CEO of Pet Resource Center of Kansas City. Stray dogs and attacks are more common in east and northeast Kansas City, which sees the largest number of citations. “Some people have to look both ways walking to their car because of aggressive dogs,” Dormady said.

Northland veterinarian Larry Kovac has been a vocal critic of KC Pet Project and was on the committee that recommended in 2019 that the city not contract with the organization.

Kovac says he’s concerned about Pet Project adoption procedures. “I’m afraid about how many pit bulls come out of KC Pet Project,” he told KCUR. “A loose pit bull is going to attack you,” he said.

A 2022 study published in the National Library of Medicine found that pit bulls are not more aggressive than other dogs, although the study found they do tend to pull on a leash. Some, however, are bred for fighting because of their strength, which can make them dangerous.

A KCUR investigation discoveredthat since KC Pet Project took over animal control from the city in December 2020 the number of tickets written for dangerous dogs dropped 33%. Officers wrote 66% fewer tickets for failing to spay or neuter pit bulls. Overall citations written by animal control dropped 46%.

But KC Pet Project says it's approaching animal control exactly the way a 2017 city audit called for: Fewer citations and more work to help and improve pet owners.

Animal control officers aren’t there to simply write tickets and seize animals, Fugate said. “Now they're forming relationships with the community and we're tracking all of the data that shows that this is actually making a huge impact.”

Some advocates, however, connect KC Pet Project’s approach directly to the increase in attacks. “There is a lack of enforcement,” Dormady from KC Pet Resource Center said. “Animal control is ignoring the strays,” she said.

In July, KC Pet Project said it impounded 200 stray animals — up from 180 the month before.

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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