How One City has Stopped the Killing of Homeless Pets


Charles Vreeland, President of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City said, “It’s a grand experiment and an idea we’ve had for several years, but until Captain Rodney Smith came on board as the new police captain we couldn’t get it off the ground.”

Vreeland is talking about an incredible program called Ray of Hope that has taken the euthanasia rate of unwanted cats and dogs in Kansas City shelters from 54% to 4% during the first six months of 2009. It’s a program that links together the services of the Kansas City police, the Humane Society, volunteers, local no-kill shelters and rescue groups both in the city and across the country.

Ray of Hope is all about cooperation, coordination and communication between these agencies and it could be replicated in just about every city across the country. It’s actually a pretty simple concept of government entities and non-profit groups working together as a team to save the lives of innocent cats and dogs.

This is how the program works. HSGKC acts as the coordinating agency that pulls together all of the resources in the community. Every Monday afternoon Captain Smith, Humane Society shelter director Karen Sands and veterinarian Michelle Taylor, DVM walk the isles of the city “pound” taking notes on every animal.

Their findings determine which pets will remain with the city shelter for adoption and which cats and dogs will be moved to HSGKC’s facility for adoption.

Then Sands returns to her office for the most important part of the project, finding placement for the rest of the pets. Breed specific rescue groups are notified about purebreds, and local rescue groups are called to see how many cats and dogs they can take.

The pressure is always mounting because every day more stray pets are being picked up by animal control and placed into the city shelter.

Once Sands has depleted her resources in the Kansas City area she reaches out farther to neighboring towns and even across the country to a sanctuary in Colorado where they have developed a partnership.

To date, Ray of Hope has saved 800 animals. The agencies were able to place all but a few of the very sick or very aggressive pets.

“These are highly adoptable animals. They just need a chance. They need more than three or four days,” Robin Rowland of HSGKC said in an interview with the News Tribune.

The Humane Society has taken on the important task of covering the cost of vaccinating and spay/neutering the cats and dogs that are removed from the city shelter. Then the local rescue groups reimburse a portion of that cost for those procedures back to them.

Ray of Hope has even taken into consideration the issue of feral cats that cannot be adopted into private homes. They have coordinated with local farmers who are willing to let the cats roam in their barns. Ray of Hope makes sure the cats are provided with food.

Even though Ray of Hope is a demanding program, the agencies involved don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “It’s so satisfying when you see these dogs and cats get a home. That’s why I keep doing it. I’m so driven by that,” Sands said.

“We have to make this happen. The alternative is, it’s literally life and death.”


W. C
W. C9 months ago


William C
William C9 months ago

Thank you for caring.

Myriam Derome
Myriam Derome5 years ago

I like this one a lot. The feral cat trick is clever. Thanks

Lili M.
Lili M5 years ago

I love this! I hope more cities start doing this.

Colin Wright
Past Member 5 years ago

Thanks Ray Of Hope. I would love to see this spread to every corner of the world.

Duane B.
.5 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Pinke A.
Pinke A5 years ago

Love you Kansas City! You are a shining star among other cities! Thank you so much! I hope we will see lots of Ray of Hopes in the next months and years!
I have seen in TV the Dog City,don't know where it is,but maybe the idea is the same. They were also rehabilitating the poor dogs from Michael Vicks torture-dogfight-farm! Sad,sad poor babes!

Gabriela Baldaia
Gabriela Baldaia5 years ago

May many more Rays of Hope appear !!
Shared :)

Sherri G.
Sherri G5 years ago

Kudos to Kansas City finally a city government thinking outside the box. Please spread the word. Please contact Silicon Valley Humane Societies and give them your recipe to save animals instead of killing them.

Barbara D.
Past Member 5 years ago

A program like this is a wonderful idea and I hope it spreads. But funding is going to be scarce in some areas. Please be willing to have a little bit come out of your pocket.