MISSION, Kan. — Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Mike Beam withdrew an emergency order on Tuesday preventing Unleashed Pet Rescue from taking in animals.
The action comes days after FOX4 Problem Solvers captured video of shelter employees bringing crates full of dogs into the shelter, despite an administrative order by the state to stop taking animals in.
On Friday, a hearing was held in which the shelter’s attorney appealed the order for Unleashed Pet Rescue to stop its intake of animals.
FOX4 obtained video of the shelter taking in even more animals on Saturday, just two days before the order was officially withdrawn. The order was not withdrawn until Monday night.
The department said it received over 20 new complaints nearly a week after FOX4’s initial investigation.
Heather Lansdowne, director of communications for the Kansas Department of Agriculture, said the shelter provided new information in support of its position that there was not sufficient justification for the emergency order in the first place.
“There aren’t any animals in imminent danger,” Lansdowne told FOX4 in March. “That’s what we’re looking for. The facility itself is still not in compliance with the Kansas Pet Animal Act.”
The order to withdraw does not impact the state’s decision to seek revocation of the shelter’s license, Lansdowne said in an email.
A pre-hearing to revoke Unleashed Pet Rescue’s license is set for May 4.
Court Kennedy, attorney for Unleashed Pet Rescue, issued a statement on Tuesday pointing at “unfounded allegations about Unleashed’s facility and Unleashed’s practices in addressing heartworm positive animals” as a primary consideration for the withdrawal.
He said in the statement the shelter has evidence supporting its claim that the state’s attempt to revoke the shelter’s license is “based on the undue influence of many former disgruntled employees and volunteers that have personal vendettas with Unleashed having nothing to do with animal health, safety, or welfare.”
FOX4 requested an interview with the Kansas Department of Agriculture, but it declined.
Those who have spoken out against the shelter say the state’s decision to withdraw the emergency order is unsettling.
“I would say that I’m disappointed that the order did get withdrawn, because if the revocation does go through, us, as rescuers, are going to have a lot more dogs to place in other places,” Suzanne Higdon, a former volunteer at Unleashed Pet Rescue, said.
Higdon, who adopted three dogs from Unleashed Pet Rescue, said she believes the animals in the shelter are living uncomfortable lives.
“I don’t think the dogs are in danger where they’re all like, going to die by May 4, when the pre-hearing is, but I don’t think they’re in a comfortable living environment,” she said.
In February, Kennedy issued a statement in response to the revocation hearing, claiming the alleged violations noted from an October 24, 2022 inspection have all been corrected.
Higdon said she doubts that.
“They don’t have a new roof yet, they haven’t addressed ventilation,” she said. “They’ve done little things, like Band-Aids, which is what they have been doing and it’s not working.”