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Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas City, Missouri — Time was, a fledgling tech company called CivicPlus had to explain to prospective customers why it was based in Kansas — and not some tech-heavy coastal city.

“We said, ‘Hey, you get Midwest values, but with Silicon Valley quality,’” recalled Ward Morgan, owner of the government software maker based in the college town of Manhattan. “It did throw people off to think that there was a tech company in Kansas.”

Today CivicPlus, founded in the 1990s, serves 3,500 cities and counties on two continents.

GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Federal rules signed into law in November promised strict bans on animal cruelty. They made it illegal to burn, crush, impale, drown or otherwise inflict “serious bodily harm” on an animal.

The new law didn’t deal with neglect or cover every act of abuse, but it drew accolades from a range of animal welfare groups.

But the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, applies only on federal land or to animals transported from abroad or across state lines. 

KC Pet Project

Eight years ago, 70% of the animals that came into Kansas City, Missouri’s animal shelter were euthanized. 

“It was dreadful,” Kansas City Councilwoman Teresa Loar said. “It was a death camp.”

But after the nonprofit KC Pet Project took over shelter operations in 2012 and converted it to no-kill, attitudes began to change, she said. 

Segment 1: A new KC Pet Project facility is set to open next month in Swope Park.

Kansas City's current animal control shelter was never intended to house and care for animals — and it shows. But a new building specifically designed for the purpose will open its doors to humans and animals starting Jan. 1. Learn what the new digs will enable the KC Pet Project to do, that they weren't able to do before.

Segment 1: Environmentalism and the outdoors have long been seen as safe spaces for white people.

The concerns of climate change action organizations are wide-ranging and well-founded, but membership is largely white and adult. Learn the benefits and challenges of adding young people of color to these groups, apart from just making them more reflective of the communities they serve. The founder of an Atlanta group and the head of a Kansas City organization explained how they are bringing diversity and youth to the environmental ranks.

Segment 1: 3rd District councilman lays out his plans if he wins the June 18 election.

A native son of Kansas City's urban core, Quinton Lucas responded to disparaging remarks made by his opponent Jolie Justus and then explained his approach to campaign issues including homelessness, affordable housing and policing in Kansas City.

Drive on any major highway in Kansas and you’ll likely see some roadkill.

For decades, biologists at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism have found a treasure trove in their counts of flattened animals. It’s a way to create a population index of raccoons and beavers.

In 1986, the scientists also started counting armadillos.

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.

Cities in Kansas have been adopting a new approach for dealing with feral cats: neutering and vaccinating them, and then allowing the felines to roam free.

That has birdwatchers worried.

Laura Ziegler

In the wake of Sept. 11, federal officials said the United States needed a new, state-of-the-art facility to defend against bioterrorism and stop diseases that could devastate the country’s farm economy and threaten human lives. They chose Manhattan, Kansas, as the site of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

The plan was to have it up and running last year. But that date has fallen ever deeper into the future. At best, it’ll open in 2022, at a price that surpasses the original budget by $800 million.

Best Friends Animal Society

As Kansas Citians narrow eleven mayoral candidates down to two in next week’s election, voters in Liberty, Missouri, will be casting an equally contentious vote — whether to repeal the city’s three-decade-old pitbull ban.

“The science and all the studies show that pitbulls are not the monstrous breed that has been portrayed by some of the media,” said Jessica McKinney, a member of Liberty Pitbull Alliance, which began lobbying the city council to repeal the ban three years ago.

Segment 1: Why a Midwesterner is leading the charge to save manatees.

To a native Kansas Citian, a sea animal like the manatee might as well be something mythical like a unicorn or a chupacabra. In this conversation, we learn how a nature lover from Independence wound up leading an organization that helped take the beloved sea cow off the endangered list.

Segment 1: Fight the winter blues with adorable baby animals.

The Kansas City Zoo welcomed a baby king penguin named Blizzard. We hear about how Blizzard and other new babies are doing, along with the ways animals are "encouraged" to mate.

  • Sean Putney, Senior Director of Zoological Operations, Kansas City Zoo

Segment 2, beginning at 16:30: Kansas City filmmaker's latest work selected for Sundance Film Festival.

Crysta Henthorne / Kansas News Service

Farm filming

Nearly two decades ago, Kansas became the first state to outlaw the unauthorized filming of farms, animal research labs or meatpacking plants.

The law came from a push by ag groups trying to fend off guerilla documentaries by groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals collecting gritty footage of all it takes to make a steer into hamburger.

Unleashed Pet Rescue

Unleashed Pet Rescue in Mission, Kansas, took in 71 dogs from animal shelters affected by Hurricane Florence last week, and the vast majority are still up for adoption.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Is housing really as affordable for Kansas Citians as we say it is?

A new study finds housing in Kansas City isn't as affordable for low-income residents as we would like. We discuss the study, the recommendations for improvement presented to the city council and what is to come.

Segment 2, beginning at 11:55: Goat Yoga. Need we say more?

A man wearing glasses and a plaid shirt smiles while seated behind a microphone for a radio interview.
Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1:  Why public money is needed to get a proposed underwater attraction off the ground.

If the experience of getting a bat stuck in your house or office isn’t unpleasant enough, Kansas health officials say it also means you should go get checked for rabies.

Segment 1: What does motherhood mean in the animal world?

Humans really rely on moms to survive. But in the animal world, this experience may vary — especially since some species eat their young. We learn about different examples of motherhood across various species.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

Two men were arrested Wednesday  for allegedly running a cockfighting ring near 24th and Cypress in east Kansas City.

The city's Animal Health and Public Safety Division, backed up by Kansas City police, executed a search warrant on two adjoining houses on Cypress.

"We found a large number of fowl. And when I say foul we had roosters, we had hens, and we had baby chicks," according to Special Investigator James Donovan.

The actual cockfighting, city officials say, was done at a different location.

KC Pet Project

Kansas City’s over-crowded animal shelter is a step closer to becoming a state-of-the-art animal “campus.”

Kansas City's Finance and Governance committee advanced an ordinance Wednesday to begin design and construction for the new animal facility.

The $26 million dollar project is partially funded with $18 million in GO KC bonds from the city. Voters approved the $800 million infrastructure bond package last year.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3 file photo

Despite the raucous Republican reception Pres. Trump's State of the Union received, Kansas City's Rep. Emanuel Cleaver thinks the commander-in-chief missed an opportunity with his speech. Today, he shares his theory on why GOP members in Congress are eager to be seen supporting the president. Then, we get the latest word on the rainbow trout, zebra mussels, and Eastern spotted skunks that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is keeping an eye on.

Andrey Shkvarchuk / Flickr - CC

"There are a lot of dangers during the winter, especially when we're hitting temperatures around zero," says veterinarian Wayne Hunthausen. Today, the pet behavior expert answers our burning questions about cold weather pet safety and how to avoid dangers like antifreeze, frostbite and melting salt. Then, we learn about "gaslighting," particularly as it relates to politics and the current #MeToo movement.

Pixabay - CC

If you're native to, say, the deserts of  North Africa, a winter in Kansas City can be a shock to your system. You can combat the cold with layers of warm clothing, by turning up the thermostat or having a hot drink, but what if you're not human and your home is the Kansas City Zoo? We learn what it takes to keep the nesh occupants happy and healthy in the coldest weather.  Then, in the wake of Gov.

When it comes to fighting for a cause, some may picture protestors chaining themselves to machinery or going on hunger strikes. But a former journalist in Kansas fought a proposal for saltwater injection wells in a different way: she read a lot of documents and examined the tiny administrative details.

Then: two area researchers on how dogs and humans became friends, then an encore presentation of how a local musician found one family's long-lost Christmas tape at a thrift store.

Guests:

Russell Watkins / Flickr - CC

Even though the winds and rain have subsided, the carnage wrought by Hurricanes Maria and Irma have left parts of the Caribbean without power and everyday necessities. Today, we find out how recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are progressing from two Kansas City relief workers who saw the devastation firsthand. Then, learn interesting facts, folk-wisdom, and oddities of the Show-Me State, via a brand new Missouri Almanac.

Josh Henderson / Flickr-CC

Kansas City’s Animal Health and Public Safety Division needs better training and more oversight, according to an audit of the department. 

The audit was conducted at the direction of the city council. 

The report concluded that the focus on enforcement of code violations, rather than education or problem-resolution in the field, doesn’t result in improved animal welfare or public safety.

Takeshi Kuboki / Flickr - CC

Birds, bees, fish, and all sorts of other animals exponentially expand their intelligence and abilities when they cluster together in swarms. Can humans do the same? Today, we find out how researchers are harnessing the benefits of the hive mind to create smarter, safer artificial intelligence.

Kansas City Zoo / Facebook

A chimpanzee at the Kansas City Zoo died Wednesday from internal injuries after a fight with other chimps. 

According to Sean Putney, the zoo's senior director of zoological operations, Bahati, a 31-year-old male chimp was taken to the animal health staff after falling from a tree during a "skirmish" with the other chimps.

Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Why did the turtle cross the road? Because it’s turtle mating season in Missouri.

Department of Conservation spokesman Joe Jerek says young male turtles are usually in search of territory while females are trying to nest.

“And if you think about it, comfort’s also a factor for turtles. They’re reptiles. As reptiles, they’re cold-blooded, so basking on a warm asphalt road feels good on a cool spring day,” Jerek says.

Unfortunately every year some of these turtles end up getting hit by cars.

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